GLENN BURNIE, Md. - Anne Arundel County Police say they charged a man and a woman with 40 counts of animal cruelty each after a dog in their care had to be euthanized.
Police say they were called back on March 20th by a person who represented several dog owners who lived out of the area, but had dogs working with a Glenn Burnie-baesd "Olympian Kennels" to receive dog training services.
Some of the dog owners became concerned about the welfare of their animals when they could not reach the kennel’s owners, Rebecca Wolfe or Cameron Whitaker-Nelson, by phone.
Additionally, police say they had information that Wolfe had posted a message on social media that Animal Control had taken all the animals in her care and custody, which Animal Control had not.
Lisa Simmons tells DCW50 she was the person who contacted police.
She lives in Utah, but she was in Baltimore for work, and told the owners she go come by the home with their permission to take custody of their dogs.
"It tore my heart out of my chest to see these dogs like that, because they trust us to care for them, and these dogs were very loving," she says.
Police say when they responded to the home, they found a total of six dogs at the location, not including the two that Simmons took into her custody.
They say the basement area where these dogs were kept in kennels smelled of ammonia and fecal matter.
"There were several dogs that appeared to be in bad shape, emaciated, appearance of having been abused," says Marc Limansky, spokesman for Anne Arundel County Police. "Unsafe sanitary conditions for the dog, lack of water, lack of food."
Police say one dog that was severely emaciated was having trouble breathing and was rushed to a local emergency animal hospital where it had to be humanely euthanized to alleviate suffering.
"It was bones with skin on it," says Simmons. "I pet it and its tail was wagging and it just wanted to be loved."
Police charged both Wolfe and Whitaker-Nelson with 40 counts each of animal cruelty, which includes five counts relating to each of the eight dogs they found to be in their care:
- * Failure to provide nutritious food in sufficient quantity
- * Failure to provide proper air
- * Failure to provide proper space
- * Failure to provide necessary veterinary care
- * Failure to provide necessary sustenance
Police also found that Wolfe had been promoting herself as "Olympian Kennels" online and through social media, but neither Wolfe nor Whitaker-Nelson has an Anne Arundel County license to operate as a dog fancier, commercial kennel or pet care business.
Anne Arundel County Animal Control is working with other county agencies regarding any zoning or business permit violations.
"She’s really connected within the dog community and has built some trust with some really amazing trainers, and she misled an entire community of people," says Simmons. "She pulled a wool over many people's eyes."
Animal Control say they did have two prior complaints to check the welfare of the dogs at the home. In May of 2017, dogs at the residence were found to be healthy and in good condition. In January of 2018, several dogs were returned to their owners when Animal Control found unsatisfactory and dirty conditions where the dogs were kept in the home.
An unannounced "surprise" follow-up inspection related to the January 2018 complaint was conducted by Animal Control in February 2018. Police say at that time, there were four dogs on location, all found to be in healthy condition and the dirty conditions had been cleaned up.
The dogs rescued from the home are now at a training, boarding, and daycare facility in Elkridge. One of the dogs was returned to its original owner.
The facility's owner says when the dogs meet a healthy weight to travel, they will go home to their owners.
"It’s taken five feedings a day to get them to this point," says Tecla Walton. "It’s been heartbreaking to watch but in the same breath, I have to say, to see the improvement in the dog and know we were able to help with that, has been a beautiful thing."
Police say their investigation is on-going and there could be additional charges.