The owner and operator of an Ohio-based animal rescue organization, Helping Hands for Furry Paws, is facing multiple felony charges after authorities discovered 30 deceased dogs at two of its facilities. The Butler County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted searches at the two locations, also found 90 dogs living in deplorable conditions. Rhonda Murphy, the suspect in question, is facing numerous charges of neglect and cruelty to companion animals, including both felony and misdemeanor offenses.
The authorities have yet to confirm whether Murphy has been arrested, booked, or formally charged. No information regarding the case was found in court records, and Murphy was not listed as an inmate. It is also unclear whether Murphy has legal representation, as the public defender for the area did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office stated that its dog wardens and humane officers discovered the deceased dogs at one of the rescue locations in Madison Township. The Helping Hands for Furry Paws organization is listed in Middleton, a city adjacent to Madison Township and part of Butler County.
The deceased animals were found in refrigerators and freezers, some of which were not functioning, and were in various stages of decomposition. The reasons for the search, and whether it was conducted with a judge’s permission, were not disclosed in the sheriff’s statement.
In addition to the deceased animals, the authorities also found dogs that were alive but in dire need of fresh air, food, and water. One garage was found to house over 25 dogs in cages without ventilation or air conditioning, with indoor temperatures recorded at 89 degrees. The cages were filled with fecal matter and urine, and lacked food and water. One cage was found to contain a mother dog and her eight newborn puppies.
Another location, referred to as “the main house,” housed 11 dogs in conditions resembling those of a hoarder. The odor in the house was described as “horrendous” by sheriff’s officials, who had to take breaks to step outside for fresh air. The Animal Friends Humane Society took in the rescued dogs, nearly doubling its animal population.