CONYNGHAM TOWNSHIP -- Nineteen dogs were taken away from a breeder and put into the care of the Luzerne County SPCA.
Humane officers said the stench inside the home was so powerful it actually stung their eyes. They even found some dogs outside the house when it was just five degrees outside.
State police said the dogs did not have any food and their water was frozen.
This photo shows just one of 19 dogs taken away from a breeder near Wapwallopen on New Year’s Eve.
Humane officers with the Luzerne County SPCA said it was hard to even be inside the home on Cemetery Road because the smell was so bad.
“The dogs were in cages for the most part living in feces and urine. Water bowls turned upside down and urine in the water bowls that were turned right side up,” Luzerne County SPCA Humane Officer Wayne Harvey said.
According to a search warrant, the house in Conyngham Township belongs to John Dancho. His daughters, Ashley and Amanda Dancho owned the dogs but did not live in the house.
Humane officers said they were selling Shih Tzus and German Shorthairs in these conditions for $850 each.
“This is a good example of a backyard breeder making lots of money off the animals. They are their welfare,” Harvey said.
Dottie Briggs could hear the dogs barking in the freezing temperatures all morning and night.
She actually led state police to the house on one of the coldest days of the winter, New Year’s Eve.
“The day (state police) finally came, no one even was there that whole day to feed them,” Briggs said.
There were 17 other dogs that were outside the home that day. Humane officers say that if they had been outside for much longer, the dogs could have been seriously hurt.
“We got a hold of the owners of the animals at that time made them remove the dogs that were outside and put them in their vans, take them to their house and get them in warm surroundings,” Harvey said.
State police have since checked in with the owners and those 17 dogs are in fact inside for shelter.
The 19 dogs that were inside the home are now in the care of the Luzerne County SPCA.
Officials there said they are not available for adoption right now.
“In our care, they are surprisingly doing well. They are warm, fed, being cleaned up as we speak,” Luzerne County SPCA Executive Director Todd Hevner said.
Humane officers said no charges have been filed yet, but they are pending.
Dottie Briggs said the timing of it all really made her think.
“It was about three minutes before midnight and I turned around and said to my husband, 'Happy New Year's for the dogs. They are starting a new life,’” Briggs said.
Humane officers said this is still an open investigation.