Animal shelter workers removed at least 70 dogs and puppies from an eastern Greene County mobile home where the residents had outfitted the interior with chain-link pens.
The exact location or the identity of the alleged dog "hoarders" was not released, by Greene County Health Department Environmental Health Specialist Andrea Alltop.
Alltop received an initial complaint about the excessive number of dogs and puppies at the location and made an on-site visit July 19 along with a representative from the Monroe County Humane Society and a Indiana State Police trooper.
On Tuesday, at least 70 dogs were removed from the rural home and are now temporarily housed in the Bloomington police and fire training center on South Walnut Street.
The homeowners were allowed to keep nine dogs, Alltop noted.
Alltop said health conditions inside the mobile home were less than desirable.
Some of the animals were infested with fleas and intestinal parasites.
"The floor had been stripped down to the plywood flooring. They did have newspapers down, which the animals were using," Alltop said. "Some of them did look like there were some health concerns. I think the intentions of the homeowners were good. But it was just a situation that got out of control. It was impossible to keep it sanitary with the amount of space and the number of animals."
Alltop said after talking with the residents she learned that the animals had been accumulated over the course of a couple of months. Some of the animals had been dropped off at the mobile home and they were taking in strays.
"Their intentions were good. They care about them (the animals), but it was just something they could not control and it was not a sanitary situation," Alltop said.
The dogs were of various breeds and ages, were reasonable well-fed but many had not received vaccinations and were kept in very close quarters, according to Alltop.
Alltop said after receiving the complaint she initially contacted the Greene County Animal Shelter, near Linton, but was told "they have limited resources and they do not deal with animal control issues."
Hearing that, she contacted the Monroe County Humane Society to help.
The dogs were signed over to the Monroe County Humane Association, which has volunteered to assist the Greene County Health Department if similar situations arise.
Alltop said no criminal charges have been filed against the mobile home residents, but the site will be closely monitored to make sure the conditions improve.
The residents have been given formal written notice and 21 days to clean up the conditions.
The Monroe County Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States purchased medical supplies and volunteers are taking shifts to help care for the animals, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.
Alltop said the animals will go to the Bloomington city shelter, others will go to other shelters throughout the U.S. and shelters in the state.
The Greene County Health Department official said she is pleased the animals will be adopted out and cared for, but she thinks the residents have to be monitored.
"I do think it will be an ongoing situation there. There is still work to be done on the property to make the conditions more sanitary so they can continue to live in the (mobile) home. They have been sent an order that describes what they need to clean up and do ... to avoid declaring it unfit for human habitation. I will definitely be back for a re-visit."
A news release from the Monroe County Humane Society says, "Animal hoarding is a complex public health and community issue with far-reaching effects that encompass mental health, animal welfare and public health. Most individuals return to hoarding behavior and will often begin collecting animals again very quickly."
A state official is pleased with the way the rescue operation turned out.
"These dogs have had a rough life: Living in squalor and without basic care. We are happy to provide support to the Monroe County Humane Association in hopes that these animals can find loving homes, and get the care and attention they so desperately need and deserve," said Anne Sterling, The Humane Society of the United States' Indiana state director.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.