Couple could face charges in dog hoarding case


by Michelle Arnold/Associated Press

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 20 at 7:53 PM

NORTH VERNON, Ind.—  A pizza delivery man gave a tip to animal control officers that led to one of the worst animal hoarding cases in the history of Jennigs County.

The officers described the scene as unhealthy, disgusting and horrific.

The delivery man reported the owner came to the door with her hands and feet covered in dog feces.

Heather Kessler, Jennings County Animal Control officer, said the delivery man reported nearly 40 dogs in the residence.

“Actually, there were more,” Kessler said.

The owner, Dawn Bowman, initially claimed she had only 4 or 5 dogs.  She agreed to let the officers inside, and that is when they were able to see the horrifying truth.

Kessler said the lingering ammonia in the trailer burned their eyes and the floor was littered with feces.

“We couldn’t tell you how many puppies and dogs were in there when we walked in,” she said.

The officers eventually counted 81 Chihuahua Spitz Beagle mixed breed dogs in the trailer home.

Animal Control officers seized 77 dogs.  Bowman insisted on keeping four of the dogs.

The dogs taken from the home will be divided among three nearby animal shelters.  Twenty of the dogs were euthanized, due to health concerns.

Kessler said some of the dogs had never been outside.

“I believe that she knew what she was doing,” Kessler said.  “I believe she knew that she was in the wrong for harboring all the animals.”

Bowman was issued a citation for improper care and fined $2,500.  The fine also covers rabies shots for the recovered animals.  As of today, Bowman had failed to pay the ticket.

Animal control officers will wait to see if the county prosecutor decides to file charges.

The four dogs still with Bowman have been spayed and neutered.