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Monday, May 7, 2012County: Burke
Alleged: Larry Buff
More than 100 dogs and puppies were seized Monday afternoon from a home on Bill Epley Avenue when Burke County Sheriff's deputies found them in "inhumane" living conditions.
Officers initially went to the home of Larry Buff, 58, to post a notice because his animals were not in compliance with their rabies tags, said Burke Sheriff Steve Whisenant. While there, they discovered Buff had a warrant out for his arrest.
When officers served the warrant, for assault by pointing a gun, they saw the dogs' living conditions, Whisenant said. Officers obtained a search warrant and returned to Buff's home to seize the dogs.
Animal cruelty charges are pending.
Officers took a total of 105 dogs - 25 were puppies younger than 6 weeks.
The dogs range in age up to four or five years old, said Teddi Stamey, assistant director of Burke County Friends for Animals. A variety of breeds were taken including terrier mixes, Chihuahua mixes, pit bull mixes and some purebred poodles.
"It's really bad. It makes you mad. It makes you sick in your stomach," BCFFA Director Toni Davis said of the dogs' living conditions. "It makes you really angry because these are animals. They didn't ask to be like this."
At the Burke County Animal Control shelter, the dogs huddled together in the corner of pens.
"You can see they're terrified. They don't know anything," said Stamey. "Some of these dogs have never seen sunshine or grass."
Davis said, "They were rolling around in the grass while we were waiting for trucks to come and load them like they'd never seen it before."
BCFFA, and Caldwell County, Morganton and Valdese animal control helped at the scene.
The area Buff kept the dogs in was "like a compound," said Stamey.
Officers found dogs everywhere on the property, Stamey said.
"They were all confined somewhere," Stamey said. "Either with a chain or in a pen or in a makeshift wooden crate."
Stamey said the man likely had a hoarding problem, and that he was not intentionally harming the dogs.
Davis said the man had sold a few dogs through IWANNA postings.
"You hate to see animals being treated this way," Whisenant said. "And so it's nice to be able to get them out of that environment. The difficult part is they have not been socialized, so many of them probably will not be adoptable."
Whisenant said a few dogs tried to bite officers as they were collected and taken to the animal shelter.
BCFFA will continue to work with the dogs in the next days to see if they could be socialized, Davis said.
Some of the dogs have medical conditions and will have to be euthanized, Davis said.
"We're going to try to save as many as we can," Davis said.
Animal control officers stated in 2003 80 dogs were seized from Buff and he was charged with animal cruelty.
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