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Around 80 animals rescued from deplorable conditions at local’s house

WTAP News @ 11
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 9:55 PM EST
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AUBURN, W.Va. (WTAP) - Law enforcement is charging a local woman with animal cruelty after finding dozens of animals in deplorable conditions at her house.

Ritchie County Sheriff Terry Snodgrass said of the incident, “I’ve been in law enforcement almost 35 years and I’ve never seen anything this extreme as it pertains to animal cruelty.”

The story starts with community complaints.

“In January of 2022, we received some information…basically received complaints from residents out of Auburn of pigs - hogs running at large within the community,” Snodgrass said.

When law enforcement located where the hogs were coming from, they found multiple malnourished dogs outside as well. This led to a citation…then a follow-up and another citation. Then police got word of animals living inside the house, which lead to a search warrant.

Snodgrass remembered, “Inside the house…it was deplorable. It was…uninhabitable. There were seven decaying animals in the house.”

Ritchie County Humane Society’s Michele Stutler said her first reaction was anger.

“All of the dogs…it was just anger and heartbreak because you could count every bone in their body and…to see that was just ridiculous,” she said.

Pigs, chickens, dogs, ducks, and a raccoon were waiting - hungry for food.

Snodgrass said, “I personally observed a sliding glass door. These little pigs come from the inside to the door basically to get our attention. They were that desperate for food and water.”

Law enforcement and animal welfare organizations like the Ritchie County Humane Society and Pigsburgh Sqealers Rescue got all living animals off of the property.

Hanna DeMoss of the humane society said the influx of animals was a challenge.

“We had to use some of our extra kennels that were set up for dogs way back when, when we had very many of them so we closed them with tarps to keep the birds warm outside, we put up heat lamps since it’s been way below freezing temperatures…,” she said.

Now the mission is to find those left a home.

Stutler said, “We actually put a Facebook post on with their pictures on last night that you can look in their eyes and you can see the sadness and the worry and the wounded souls and we want that gone. We want them to forget this and never ever have to worry where their next meal is coming from again.”

The raccoon was transported to a wildlife rescue organization in Charleston and Pigsburgh Squealers Rescue has taken over 30 of the pigs. Still, a majority of animals rescued are still in the process of being rehomed.

Nikki Herner, the owner of the animals, is currently being held in North Central Regional Jail. She is being charged with 12 counts of felony animal cruelty.

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