BELLAIRE — Members of the humane organization Belmont County Hoof and Paw said they found a horrific scene when they served a search warrant at an Indian Run Road residence outside of the village.
Humane Officer Julie Larish said multiple animals had been kept in deplorable conditions, in some cases for more than 10 years.
“We took in 11 dogs, it’ll be a total of about 25 cats — we’re still trapping the cats, so there’s still some more to get — a donkey and some chickens,” she said.
Larish said the situation was brought to their attention by a bystander’s phone call this past Tuesday.
“We went out and assessed the situation and realized that we really needed a search warrant to go in, because we could hear the animals in the back but we couldn’t see them. But what we did see in the camper was atrocious,” Larish said. “We served the search warrant on Thursday evening.”
Larish said she is filing charges of fifth-degree felony abuse and neglect of companion animals and abuse and neglect of a non-companion animal against Raymond Moncer, 63, through the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office.
“I will be filing charges this weekend,” she said, adding she expects the case to go to Belmont County Eastern Division Court soon.
About eight people assisted in rounding up the animals and searching for more.
“A lot of the dogs were living in filth and mud and very unlivable conditions. The donkey’s feet have not been trimmed in years and he walked really bad,” Larish said.
“We’ve not found any dead animals. We did have two cats that did not make it. We have one cat with one eye. We have one cat that has a foot chewed off,” she said. “There was piles and piles of feces mixed in with hay.
“The donkey had not even been out of his pen in 12 years, and literally did not have a gate. He was living on top of 12 years of manure,” she said.
“The donkey was his mother’s,” Larish said of Moncer. “When his mother passed away 12 years ago, he assumed the responsibility of the donkey. He fed the donkey, but that’s as far as it went. He did not take care of the health of the donkey, and he did not take care of the foot care.
“I’m not saying he did not feed his dogs, but there was no health care. I’m currently holding a dog that has a broken leg that has never healed,” she said. “I think Mr. Moncer had good intentions, but good intentions – if you don’t limit what you do – you can end up with a hoarding situation, and that’s exactly what happened here. He ended up taking in animals, strays, taking in other animals and just not realizing how far he had gotten into it. Then his circumstances changed and he was barely able to function to take them on.”
Larish said she hopes to find homes for some of the animals.
“Some of the cats are a little more wild, some of the cats are very, very tame cats. The dogs are all small breed dogs with the exception of two, but they were kept outside so we’re going to have to do some (house) training on them,” she said. “The gentleman did surrender (the animals), so at least since he surrendered we can get them in homes sooner rather than later.
“It was horrific,” she said, adding the only worse cases she had seen involved dead animals.
Larish thanked the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office for providing assistance. She also thanked the Dog Wash and Grooming Inc. in St. Clairsville for helping to clean up some of the dogs.
The group can be reached at 610-314-5203, through the Hoof and Paw Facebook page, or through BCHP Inc on Facebook.