DURHAM, N.Y. – The Greene County Sheriff’s Office took a woman into custody Sunday after authorities removed dozens of dogs and a cat from two properties in the Town of Durham.
Authorities called the conditions inside the properties deplorable.
Deputies said an anonymous call stating concern for the animals sparked the investigation at 221 Hervey Sunside Rd. as well as a second location on Morrison Road.
Members of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society also responded. They removed 39 dogs and one cat from both properties. Seven of the dogs were puppies.
One humane society member said a dog found inside one of the homes did not have water and quickly ate snow when it was brought outside.
Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said 43-year-old Dawn Verdeschi was charged with one count of Failure to Provide Food and Water. More charges may be filed.
The animals are being examined by a veterinarian at the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. There were no animal deaths as far as the humane society knows.
Deborah Albanese walked into a shocking scene when she checked on her rental property over the weekend. She said she was disgusted to discover dozens of dogs underneath garbage.
"You didn't even know where a dog was until it started to bark,” she said. “My eyes started to water. That's how bad the smell is.”
The Greene County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant Sunday at the house at 596 Morrison Rd. and began a rescue and investigation into the actions of Verdeschi.
"I can't close my eyes to that,” Albanese continued. “I had to call the police. I called 911."
Seeley said Verdeschi was breeding and selling the dogs.
Officials said 29 dogs were seized from the property after Verdeschi refused to surrender the dogs.
"Some of them were so skinny and scared," Albanese said.
"Really, in my 30-year career in law enforcement, this is the worst animal abuse case I've seen,” Seeley said. “There was cages on top of cages with dogs in each of the cages. There was feces on top of the dogs that was running down.”
Eleven German Shepherds were seized from the property on Hervey Sunside Road.
"That is the best feeling out of this whole thing is that those dogs are saved,” Albanese said. “I can replace everything that's in that place, but you cannot replace a life."
The sheriff’s office said Verdeschi made bail Sunday night. The dogs remain at the Columbia Greene Humane Society.