Photo Shows Horrifying Conditions Puppies Kept in by 'Rescuer' Charged With Animal Cruelty

A photo shows the horrifying conditions that several puppies were being kept in by a Florida animal "rescuer" who has now been taken into custody. Authorities arrested Ruth Rupprecht, 59, on Wednesday on drug and animal cruelty charges, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Rupprecht is the owner of non-profit organization SAFFARI (Save A Furry Friend Animal Rescue, Inc.)—an animal rescue operation that she established in 2012. But the sheriff's office said the woman had been using the non-profit as a front for selling drugs.

Rupprecht had been under investigation since May 2021 after a puppy that was adopted from her organization died a few days later.

Last month, deputies were granted a search warrant for Rupprecht's home in Palm Coast on Florida's east coast. Investigators said they had previously purchased prescription drugs from the woman at the property.

When officials from the sheriff's office Major Case Unit searched the property, they found more than $20,000 in cash, over 100 prescription medications, and several animals—both dead and alive—in filthy conditions, surrounded by garbage, feces other excrement, and rotting food. The smell was reportedly so bad that deputies were retching at the door of the house.

"There were several puddles of urine and what appeared to be vomit everywhere," one detective wrote in a report, according to FlaglerLive. "The conditions of the home [were] so deplorable that detectives could not remain inside for long periods of time without needing fresh air."

In total, 46 animals were seized from the property, according to the sheriff's office. The conditions that the animals were found in led detectives to open up another investigation for animal cruelty, resulting in the arrest warrant for Rupprecht.

The 59-year-old was arrested on Wednesday for possession of morphine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a legend drug with intent to sell, dispense or deliver, and 10 counts of cruelty to animals.

She is currently being held at the at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility on a $50,000 bond.

Sheriff Rick Staly from Flagler County Sheriff's Office told Newsweek: "This woman used innocent animals as a front for her drug-dealing business and didn't even properly care for them. She also preyed on the generosity of our community and the hearts of persons unknowingly adopting very sick animals."

He said: "Our Major Case Unit worked diligently to gather the evidence of her illegal activity. Hopefully she never gets to own another animal again."

In the statement posted by the sheriff's office, Staly said: "I'm proud of the Major Case Unit, our Agriculture Crimes Unit, and detective team for continuing to build a case against this woman. We will not tolerate poison peddlers, especially those that use innocent animals as a front to hide their illegal activity in Flagler County."

In August, animal shelter officials rescued 23 dogs from what they described as "deplorable conditions" at an address in Princeton, Kentucky.

The Hopkins County Humane Society (HCHS)—a local non-profit dedicated to ensuring the human and compassionate treatment of animals—said in a Facebook post: "Nothing prepared us for what we saw once on scene."

Dustin Potenza, executive director of HCHS, told Newsweek that the dogs were in "terrible shape," suffering from a "host of infections and major dental issues."

Update 10/18/21, 9:51 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments from Rick Staly with the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Dogs being kept in horrific conditions
This photo published by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office shows the horrific conditions animals were being kept in at Ruth Rupprecht's property in Palm Coast, Florida. Flagler County Sheriff's Office