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Owen County Couple Facing Criminal Charges For Hoarding Dogs
Updated July 26, 2016 7:26 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(SPENCER) - It wasn't the dozens of malnourished dogs running loose that brought county health department officials and sheriff's deputies to the property at 3470 Shepard Road near Freedom on May 18.

It was the rats, thousands and thousands of rats.

Volunteers and police officers gathered more than 80 dogs from the home.

The home was then leveled along with outbuildings and abandoned vehicles cluttering the property.

This month officials filed criminal charges against brother and sister, 48-year-old Vikki Purcell and 46-year-old Paul Purcell Jr., who police say neglected dozens of dogs and lived in conditions that attracted thousands of rats that were causing a health hazard at surrounding homes.

Each is charged with cruelty to an animal, a misdemeanor, and with harboring a non-immunized dog, an infraction. They have agreed not to own any more dogs and will be held accountable for the cost of cleaning up their Shepard Road property.

Many of the dogs are being cared for in area animal shelters or animal rescue facilities, recovering and becoming socialized. Some have been adopted into new homes.

Paul Purcell Sr. told police that after his father died in 2006 his mother wanted to start a dog rescue on the property. Word spread. People began dropping off unwanted dogs in the night. He says the dog rescue his mother started had a name, Sakora Sanctuary, and that they quit taking in dogs in 2014. In February, he counted 40 dogs plus six new strays. Three months later, there were 80. He told police the dogs just showed up and he was often unaware just how many dogs were on the property.

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