CHESHIRE TWP. (WWJ/AP) – A southwestern Michigan couple have been charged with animal cruelty after authorities seized about 380 dogs from the home where they ran a breeding business.
The Allegan County Sheriff’s Department said 64-year-olds Cheri and George Burke were arraigned Wednesday at the county jail on the felony charge, which carries a possible four years in prison and $95,000 in fines.
The department said its animal control officers took in the dogs Monday afternoon from the home in Cheshire Township, about 40 miles south-southwest of Grand Rapids. Authorities say many of the animals were filthy and covered with feces, and more than a dozen were pregnant and others were sick.
An animal control officer who visited the home said a building that housed the animals had more than a foot of feces on the floor. Court documents show that an investigator who went to the house on April 9 said the smell of ammonia made his eyes water.
Cheri Burke told WOOD-TV that she and the dogs have been misrepresented.
The sheriff’s department said the owners were breeding small dogs such as Pomeranians but had too many to adequately care for. Officials on Wednesday said the estimate of the number of dogs seized rose to at least about 380 from about 350 when new puppies are counted.
In a statement, the department says Wishbone Pet Rescue “continues to work toward the goal of finding homes for these animals.”
An official with the Humane Society said the animals are in “pretty rough shape, but not horrible.” Mostly, they’ve been neglected, she said.
The pair is due back in court on April 25 for a preliminary exam.
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