SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Boxes, storage bins, clothing and broken furniture were piled in front of a small, one-story East 33rd Street home Sunday afternoon as Savannah-Chatham police took 69 dogs from the residence to Animal Control vehicles parked outside.
Officers responding to a complaint of dogs barking just before 12:30 p.m. entered the residence after no one answered the door, discovering the animals living in what police spokesman Julian Miller called “filth” in a statement Sunday evening. Officers had to remove the furniture and other items from the house at 318 E. 33rd St. — listed at 2,640 square feet on the Chatham County Board of Assessors website — in order to secure the dogs, many of which were hiding amid the clutter, including inside a stove-bottom drawer and within the walls, police said at the scene. In one room of the home, animal waste was piled more than a foot thick, police said.
Some of the dogs removed from the scene were puppies no bigger than the palm of a hand, but most were fully grown. Police at the scene estimated the largest dog was about 20 pounds.
Animal control officers will conduct an investigation to determine the identity of the dogs’ owner and to decide if charges will be filed, and the city of Savannah Property Maintenance Division has been informed of the home’s condition, Miller said. Police at the scene did say the dogs appeared to have enough food, and looked relatively healthy considering their living conditions.
Relando Cooper, who has lived nearby for more than five years, said he knew dogs lived in the home, but he never saw them outside.
“It was pretty quiet unless something stirred up the dogs,” he said. “... It never smelled.”
That wasn’t the case Sunday afternoon, after police wearing surgical masks had opened the home’s front door and began removing the dogs.
“It was horrendous,” Cooper said. “I’ve never smelled anything like that — never.”
Because of the strain of adding so many animals at once to the county shelter, Animal Control is looking for volunteers to help with the dogs. Anyone wanting to help can call the Savannah-Chatham Animal Control Shelter at 912-351-6750.