Over 100 Dead Dogs Found in 'Various Stages of Decay' in Missouri, Animal Rescue Organization Operator Charged

More than 100 dog carcasses were found in "various stages of decay" on the property of a Missouri nonprofit animal rescue organization. "Some were just bones," the community's sheriff said in a statement.

It all started when Steven Woodington, 55, and another unidentified man were arrested in Cameron County, Texas, earlier this month for animal cruelty. Sheriff Omar Lucio said he discovered the abuse after neighbors called in complaints about dogs barking. The sheriff discovered an estimated 270 animals, many covered in feces and urine, often with multiple animals packed into a single small cage. Two dozen of the animals were found dead.

"This is the worst case of animal abuse I've ever seen," Lucio told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "The multitude? It's staggering. It's staggering to the imagination."

Lucio learned that Woodington was part of a Missouri nonprofit animal rescue organization called All Accounted For ran by his wife, Tiffany Woodington, 49. The sheriff contacted the Missouri Humane Society Animal Cruelty Task Force, who then contacted the Benton County, Missouri, sheriff's office.

Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox visited Tiffany Woodington's residence, and what he reported was horrific.

"Tiffany was cooperative and led authorities to an old school bus, a barn and a house where 38 dogs and one cat were discovered alive but in unimaginable condition," Knox said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday. "It was discovered that approximately 120 dogs and one cat had perished."

On 09/12/19, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the Missouri Humane Society Animal Cruelty Task Force...

Posted by Benton County MO Sheriff's Office on Monday, September 23, 2019

Knox said Steven Woodington had transported the animals from Texas to Missouri.

Tiffany Woodington was charged with felony animal abuse in Missouri on September 12. Steven Woodington and the unidentified male were charged with animal cruelty in Texas earlier this month. All three were released after paying their bond.

In Tiffany Woodington's case, it's unclear how harsh of a sentence she'll receive if convicted, considering Missouri's lack of strict enforcement when it comes to animal abuse. Knox said in his statement that he fully intends "to reach out to lawmakers and pursue better law to give our furry friends better justice in Missouri."

How nobody reported the abuse earlier is a surprise to Knox, who said Woodington's nearest neighbor was a mere 500 feet away.

"It really surprises me that no one in the community said, 'You better check that lady out,'" Knox told the Associated Press. "And the smell, as soon as I drove up, I could smell it."

Authorities in both Texas and Missouri estimate that nearly half of the animals found alive would have to be euthanized due to poor health. The animals healthy enough to survive were seen by veterinarians and will be rehabilitated for adoption, but it's not going to be easy.

"It is going to take a long time to rehabilitate these animals," Humane Society of Missouri spokesperson Jeane Jae told the Associated Press.

The Humane Society of the United States reports that dogs, cats, horses and livestock are animals most at risk for abuse. The Humane Society also says that the majority of anti-cruelty laws in the United States aren't severe enough, with most laws limited to cruelty cases that involve aggravated cruelty, torture or cruelty to companion pets like dogs and cats.

Hundreds of Dogs Found Dead in Missouri, Animal Rescue Organization Operator Charged
"The animals were in various stages of decay, some were just bones," Benton County, Missouri, Sheriff Eric Knox said in a statement Monday. Getty Images / iStock / Tick-Tock