Humane Society officers this week seized 99 vicious and anemic dogs at a Piru house, in what is being called the largest raid in the local organization's history.
All but 16 of the dogs, which were terrier and Chihuahua mixes, were destroyed at the Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo after the Monday seizure, Senior Humane Officer Jeff Hoffman said.
"It's heartbreaking to have to go out there and make a decision to put them to sleep," Hoffman said. "But it was way out of control. The liabilities when you adopt an animal like that are too tremendous for us. You'd be leaving yourself open for a lawsuit."
Some Foaming at Mouth
Animal-control officers responded to a complaint of up to 120 dogs, some foaming at the mouth, being housed and possibly abused at the residence of Frank M. Enriquez in Piru, a small town east of Fillmore.
In the raid, which involved six Humane Society officers, a sheriff's deputy and a county animal control officer, at least 10 dogs escaped and the county's animal control officer was bitten, Hoffman said. The brain of that dog is being tested for signs of rabies, he said.
Animal-control officers, who plan to seek animal-neglect charges against Enriquez, said the dogs were so infested with worms and fleas that many had become anemic.
However, the officers were optimistic that none were rabid, since records show that most of the dogs had received vaccinations. Only three female dogs had been spayed, said Kathy Jenkins, director of the Ventura County Animal Regulations Department.
'A Very Lonely Man'
"All the males were intact, and three or four females were intact, so you can see what happened," said Jenkins. "If all the females had been spayed or all the males neutered, we could have stopped this."
The house and its half-acre lot were strewn with animal feces and litter, Hoffman said. He portrayed Enriquez as "a very lonely man" about 60 years old, whose life fell apart after his wife, who apparently had cared for the dogs, recently left him.
"Once she left, the place went to hell in a hand basket," Jenkins said.