State police used a blow torch Thursday to cut the lock on a storage container at the Hillside Commons Mobile Home Park to rescue 13 Chihuahuas that were whimpering inside.
Now, a mother and son are each facing more than a dozen animal cruelty charges for allegedly not properly caring for the dogs and others that were found in their squalid home.
The Schenectady County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized 20 animals from the property off Western Turnpike, including 16 Chihuahuas, a Labrador, a collie, a Shetland sheepdog and a black cat.
Catherine Wallace is facing 20 misdemeanor counts of failure to provide proper sustenance, while her son, Michael, was charged with 13 misdemeanor counts of impounding animals without food or water. The two were released on appearance tickets.
SPCA investigators were contacted by a tipster Wednesday and alerted to a possible puppy mill at Lot 117. When officer arrived, they cited Catherine Wallace with six no-dog license violations and noticed an overwhelming odor of excrement coming from the mobile home.
“We could smell the feces in the house and knew the conditions were not suitable for any living creature,” said SPCA Chief David Dean.
The Wallaces refused to allow SPCA officers into the home, Dean said. When they left to seek a search warrant, Michael Wallace allegedly placed the 13 Chihuahuas in four small crates that he then locked in a self-storage container located on the next lot.
State police were alerted to the whimpering dogs Thursday and then cracked open the storage unit. Dean said the dogs were covered in their own feces and urine and left without food or water.
“Upon learning that we were coming back with a search warrant we learned it was Michael who physically took the dogs off the property, locked them in the storage unit and left them in their own filth,” Dean said.
The condition of the animals was not immediately clear. They were being evaluated by a veterinarian late Friday afternoon.
The Wallaces agreed to sign over the remaining animals inside their mobile home. SPCA Lt. Matthew Johnson said Catherine Wallace was cited for animal violations in the past and is asking anyone who may have information about experiences with her to contact his organization’s hotline at 755-9517.
Johnson lauded the state police for their help and the Animal Protective Foundation for taking in all 19 dogs. He said all of the animals will be put up for adoption.
“We’re hoping to find them new homes,” he said.