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ASHLAND, Ohio – Nearly 50 malnourished dogs were rescued from unlivable conditions in an Ashland home Wednesday evening.

City police assisted the Ashland County dog warden and the Ashland County Humane Society with collecting the dogs from a home at 242 W. Main St. The owners — who have not been identified by authorities — voluntarily surrendered 46 of their 54 dogs to the Humane Society, said its director, Tiffany Meyer.

Dog Warden Joe Eggerton said it’s the worst case he’s seen in his time working for the county shelter.

″(The house) was pretty disgusting,” he said.

The dogs are all mixed breeds — a combination of terrier, beagle and chihuahua— and range in age from puppies to about 5 years old. Meyer said the majority of the dogs are underweight and some have other health issues.

The three dogs Meyer and Eggerton brought out for a news conference Thursday appeared unhealthy and terrified. The dogs were docile, except for near-constant nervous shaking. They were missing large patches of fur and their rib cages were visible.

“I feel that things got out of control for (the owners),” Meyer said. “They just started breeding and couldn’t afford to feed and maintain them … then embarrassment comes into play and you don’t want to ask for help. So we went in and said, ‘You really need our help.’”

Eggerton said the complaints from neighbors started about a year ago and the owner had been cited for having 15 dogs without any dog licenses.

Meyer said it will be up to the county prosecutor’s office to decide whether to press criminal charges. County Prosecutor Chris Tunnell said his office is reviewing the case and it’s too early to say whether any charges will be filed.

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Meyer said one of the issues that arose when dealing with the case was that the city does not have an ordinance limiting the number of dogs on a property.

“That is something that hopefully Mayor Matt Miller and the council will consider in the future that we put some sort of ordinance in place about the number of dogs,” Meyer said.

The animals are being cared for at Claremont Veterinary Clinic in Ashland. Dr. Kristine LaFever assessed the dogs on site Wednesday.

Meyer said it is difficult to estimate how much caring for the dogs will cost and it depends on how many other local shelters take on some of the dogs.

The dogs will be adopted out only after they have received medical attention, received all their shots, been spayed and neutered and microchipped.

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