WILTON — State officials seized 75 dogs and puppies, 21 birds and three chickens at a mobile home on Route 2 after finding some of them sick, emaciated and in unsanitary conditions.
The home of Nancy Champagne was searched by state animal welfare agents and Wilton police March 14 after a complaint was filed and officials got a search warrant.
"This is still an open investigation that started with a complaint to the Animal Welfare Program," director Liam Hughes said Thursday. "We are still processing information gathered and getting all of the animals healthy.
Champagne is expected to appear in Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington on May 10 for a hearing on whether the state will take permanent possession of the animals.
The animals were taken to Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington while the state pursues permanent possession of them. "All the animals are safe and are receiving the care they need to deal with the many medical issues the animals have," Hughes said.
The court record indicated a majority of the dogs were deemed very thin or emaciated. Some had dental disease, hair loss and scabbing from chronic flea allergies, overgrown toenails, ear and eye infections and long hair matted with feces. Tests revealed many had parasites.
When state animal welfare agents, a state veterinarian and police entered the home, “the ammonia smell was overpowering," Angela Caldwell, district humane agent for the Animal Welfare Program, wrote in her report. She indicated the home was cluttered and appeared to have areas of dog feces.
The kitchen and living room had stacked dog pens and crates with bird cages on the counter in the kitchen. Twelve double-stacked crates in the living room held 28 dogs and puppies and another four in the room were stacked and soiled, she reported.
Wooden and wire pens on the kitchen floor contained four dogs in one, five in the other and a tier of three stacked dog crates, separating the two pens, with one dog in each.
“A wave of small dogs came running to the door, barking,” Caldwell wrote in describing her inspection.
Among the dog breeds were dachshunds, pugs, Pomeranians, French bulldogs and Shih Tzus. There were seven parakeet-type birds, six lovebirds and four canaries.
Agents found a can on the kitchen table containing a 46-pound bag of dog food about one-third full, a 32-pound bag of puppy chow about three-quarters full and a 13-pound bag of dog food almost full.
Agents also found apparent sales logs, records of litters, calendars with litter information and a purse containing business cards, sales-related papers and some vet bills, and hundreds of dollars in cash.
The state agents were looking for evidence of cruelty to animals and operation of an unlicensed breeding kennel, Hughes said.
"Animal Welfare is still working with the Franklin County District Attorney's office to decide what the next steps are in this case," she said.