Clarksville Police report they found 37 bags filled with dead dogs in a Tennessee home and confiscated 39 live dogs from a woman who claimed to be a "rescuer."
Nicole Hulbig, 29, of Tennessee, was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty after discovery of the innumerable dead dogs and the 39 live ones found living in inhumane conditions, according to the Leaf Chronicle on June 10.
The dogs were found at Hulbig's mother's house in Cottontown, Tennessee, the Leaf Chronicle reports. The 64-year-old woman was not charged nor identified.
Hulbig claims she is the founder of RRR Service Dogs and she rescues dogs from kill shelters, She said she matches them with disabled soldiers or children with disabilities as service animals.
Sgt. Sean Ryan of Sumner County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Division said there was no way to determine how many dead dogs were in the bags because the canines' remains were so badly decomposed that deputies could not tell how they died or get them tested, according to the NY Daily News.
Ryan said the 37 living dogs were all found inside a barn, and many of them obviously had not have food or water for a long period of time. Two others, he said, were in a utility room inside the house.
Each dog's body mass score was rated on a scale of 1 to 9. An optimal score would be 5 or 6 but one of the dogs was so bony, with his ribs, spine and hipbones visible, that his score was a 1, Ryan told the Leaf Chronicle.
"We found at least one dog ... with open wounds and skin issues," Ryan said.
Several dogs had ratings of 2 or 3, which led to the eight counts of animal cruelty.
There was also a large buildup of feces inside the barn, Ryan said.
Officer Ryan said that when asked about the 37 bags containing dog remains, Hulbig claimed the dogs died after a distemper outbreak about nine months ago, but there is no way verify that claim.
Montgomery County Animal Control charged Hulbig with four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, and Sumner County charged her with eight counts of animal cruelty.
The Leaf-Chronicle and the Sumner County Sheriff's Office Animal Control report that they have been contacted by numerous organizations and individuals who say they turned dogs over to Hulbig for training as service animals and are worried about their fates.
Ryan said a few dogs have been reunited with owners or rescues who could produce proof of ownership, but the shelter has also received many e-mails with photos of animals who do not match any of the live dogs seized from the home.