Search On For Couple Accused Of Abandoning More Than 40 Dogs

MARIANNA, Fla. UPDATE 8-19-13 6:30 p.m.

More than 40 dogs were abandoned at a mobile home in Marianna, Florida. Many of the dogs were malnourished and some were dead inside the house and in the backyard.

Oscar is one of 38 dogs and puppies rescued from a home in Marianna where deputies say animal hoarders left them with nothing but a little water.

"It is probably one of the most filthy places I've ever seen," said Jackson County Sheriff Louis Roberts. "It was as if we were going into a meth lab basically. There were feces on the floor. It was in bad, bad shape."

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says Heidi Westman and Leland Kluth who owned the home left the area. They face 42 felony counts of animal abuse.

Deputies say the two lived at a home off of Frances Drive in Marianna where they found more than 40 dogs either malnourished or even dead. Deputies went to rescue the animals on August 7. They found some of the dogs eating the ones that died. Conditions forced officials to wear Hazmat suits.

Many dogs like Oscar are at the Chipley Animal Control Center in Washington County and are making great strides in recovering.

"Our friend Oscar here who was just skin and bones when he came in as you can see is very happy to be held," said Belva Vaughn. "He's putting on weight."

Officials say they hope to have some questions answered by both Westman and Kluth.

"Oh they're going to come back to face these charges some way, shape, fashion or form," said Roberts.

All the dogs are up for adoption at the Chipley Animal Control Center located at 686 Highway 90 Chipley, FL 32428, Phone: 850-638-2082. The hours of operation are from 9:00am - 12:00pm CST or you can go to the Friends of Chipley Animals Facebook page for more information.


Associated Press Release

MARIANNA, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities are looking for a couple they say abandoned more than 40 dogs, leaving the animals in filthy conditions at a home in Marianna.

Jackson County Sheriff's officials said the dogs had been living in putrid for quite some time without food. Some of the dogs had died and were being eaten by the other dogs because there was no other food.

Medical officials said the surviving dogs had numerous injuries. Some were life-threatening. The dogs were transported to Animal Control of West Florida, Inc.

Officials issued warrants for the owners, Heidi Amanda Westman and Lelend Emery Kluth, for 42 counts of animal cruelty on Friday.

Authorities believe the couple has fled the immediate area.


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