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Dozens of abandoned animals found dead in Barton

BARTON — The Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office is considering criminal charges after more than two dozen animals apparently were abandoned to die a slow death in a deserted house years ago.

The scene was discovered last week.

“The Belmont County Sheriff’s Office called us,” Julie Larish, humane officer of the Belmont County Hoof & Paw Humane Society, said. “There was a cleaning crew that was supposed to assess the house to see if they could clean it out, or if they needed to demolish it, and the cleaning crew went in and found the scene.”

The animals apparently had long-since succumbed to dehydration. Larish said some of their pens had food, but there was no water provided.

“We got called out Tuesday night. We went in Wednesday morning,” Larish said. “We found debris everywhere. The house had been repossessed in 2020, but the previous owner had left everything there and we found 15 dead rabbits in cages and we found another seven dead rabbits in bags, and we found five kittens dead … and three adult cats throughout the house.

“The nearest we can estimate is they had been dead approximately five years or more,” Larish said. “It’s one of the worst houses I’ve been in. … We know the owner, and we’re not releasing her name until charges have been filed. … We will be attempting charges through the prosecutor’s office, then we will notify the person and get them up on arraignment.”

Larish said the owner could face misdemeanor or felony charges.

“We’re still talking to the prosecutor’s office on the degree of charges. Those are companion animals,” she said. “She just picked up and left. … There’s furniture in there, there’s a couch, a bed … everything’s still in the house. It looks like she just walked away from it.”

Larish said the house is located on Main Street in Barton.

Belmont County Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan is expecting information on the case.

“A report is going to be forwarded to our office. …

“We will make any charging decision at that time,” he said. “Once we receive the report, we will review it, and we are being told by the humane society that report should be forthcoming (this week).”

Larish said the issue of abandoned animals is one her organization continues to deal with.

“This is becoming a frequent habit. We have another live dog that was left at a home, and we’re trying to locate the owner. So this is something happening fairly often lately,” she said, adding that the dog was found off of Pipe Creek Road in the Jacobsburg area. “The dog is in excellent shape. The dog is doing real good, but it’s deaf. It’s a deaf white boxer.”

Larish said there are options other than abandoning animals, such as calling the animal shelter.

“Every rescue, every shelter is overwhelmed with animals, but if they call the shelter, the shelter might be able to give them other avenues they could get their dog safely taken care of,” Larish said.

The Belmont County Animal Shelter can be reached at 740-695-4708.

Belmont County Hoof & Paw can be reached at 610-314-5203 or on Facebook.

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