GREENFIELD — Three people have been charged with neglect in an animal cruelty case that resulted in 28 dogs being removed from a Hancock County home.
Officers came to the home in the 2800 block of West U.S. 40 last week to serve an arrest warrant on a man who was believed to be living there. He was not at home, but officers who responded said they couldn’t help but notice the living conditions inside and the number of animals.
The family’s 28 dogs, which were kept in the house, as well as in two outbuildings and a camper outside, were filthy, and several of the dogs appeared underfed, said Jeff Leffel, director of Greenfield-Hancock County Animal Management.
County ordinance prohibits a family from having more than five dogs on the property without a kennel permit.
The family said money was tight, and the situation had just gotten out of hand, Leffel said.
Husband and wife James and Sherry Emerick, as well as their son, Jammie Emerick, were charged with a misdemeanor count of neglect of a vertebrate animal Thursday in Hancock County Superior Court 2, according to court documents.
Sherry Emerick, 62; and Jammie Emerick, 36, were arrested Friday. James Emerick was expected to turn himself in but had not done so as of press time.
There were six family members in the house when animal management came to remove the animals, but only three claimed to own the dogs.
The family has surrendered ownership of the dogs to animal management, whose facilities were pushed to capacity Friday.
The facility can comfortably hold 36 dogs. It was already housing 10 when the additional 28 arrived, Leffel said.
But there is good news, Leffel added; the dogs are happy, healthy and ready to be adopted.
Some of the dogs have restrictions, such as needing to go to homes with no other dogs or to families with children 14 and older, but all the dogs can be adopted out, Leffel said.
The dogs range in size, age and breed. None of them should have to be euthanized, Leffel said.
Leffel said law enforcement contacted animal management immediately after visiting the house last week.
“When I got there, what I saw, I knew something had to be done,” Leffel said. “There’s not any working with that. I had on a respirator, and my eyes were watering the entire time that I was in that home.”
Leffel credits Hancock County sheriff’s deputies with quickly alerting his staff to the situation.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier said that had deputies not stopped at the home, there’s a chance the animals would not have been found.
“I think that as prosecutors, our duty is to protect victims of all kinds of crimes, and sometimes, the victims are dogs,” Napier said.