Man charged with 13 animal cruelty counts

By Dean Wright -

VINTON — A Vinton man was charged with 13 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty after Gallia law enforcement collected 12 animals from his residence on Amby Lane, Saturday, found in reportedly neglectful and unsanitary conditions.

“You would have to see this dog (one of the recovered Cocker Spaniels) prior to the grooming to believe it was the same dog,” said Gallia Dog Warden Laurie Cardillo. “When I was putting (a recovered dog) in the kennel Saturday night, he was tripping over (matted fur on his paws) and it took him a lot to get back up. It was bad.”

According to a Gallia Sheriff’s Office report, law enforcement was met by Thomas Saunders, 55, after receiving an animal complaint in regard to 13 dogs in unsanitary conditions at the Amby Lane residence. Reports say Saunders said he was going through challenges in life and that family members had not cleaned the home while he was away working and that he had returned to the residence in a “deplorable condition.” Animals in the home were allegedly in poor health with some having “severely matted” fur and difficulty walking.

Cardillo said the dogs were all of the Cocker Spaniel breed.

The report states Saunders’ residence had a strong smell of ammonia and “inches of urine and fecal matter” covered the floor in “sheets.” Law enforcement felt the residence was not safely habitable for animal nor human. Reportedly, clothing was stuck to the floor and some animals had open sores.

One animal escaped from the property as law enforcement was collecting the others. Cardillo said she would attempt to further locate the missing animal.

According to Gallipolis Municipal Court complaints, “Saunders neglected his 13 dogs, which he left inside of his residence for lengthy periods of time without human encounter, due to no one living inside the residence. The dogs were forced to defecate inside the residence…(A Gallia Sheriff’s Deputy) did not see any water inside the residence for the dogs and there was food that had just been dumped on the floor for the dogs and the food was lying in the feces covered floor.”

The collected animals have since been examined and are undergoing medical care. Two animals, reports say, may have to be euthanized due to their condition.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright