Tehama County Sheriff's officers came across a disturbing find during a home eviction this morning... dozens of dogs found in a Red Bluff home, filthy and scared and in deplorable conditions..
The stench is palpable as you approach this home in Red Bluff.
Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston says, "the conditions were so horrendous, the dogs were living in squalor, there was disease, there was feces stacked..."
The resident, 52 year old Tracy Votaw, left home this morning before Sheriff's deputies arrived to evict her. She left behind 27 dogs.
Johnston says, "according to the animal control officer on scene he believes the dogs were bred and born in the residence, that they have never been allowed outside."
The dogs, mostly "Cavalier King Charles Spaniels", were taken to the Tehama County Animal Care Center where they are currently undergoing exams, getting vaccinated, as well as bathed and groomed.
Animal Care Center Manager Christine McClintock says, "they're just terrified, they've never left the house and they've never been anywhere and this is pretty scary for them."
Neighbors and others who knew her say Votaw, who faces charges of animal cruelty, may have fled the state... and she was seen leaving with a car full of dogs.
McClintock says, "it's hard to let go and sometimes you want to be helpful and you love your dogs, it just goes too far to where it's about that person rather than caring for the animals."
Officers had to wade through piles of animal waste to rescue the canines, who were covered in feces... and some of them appear to have medical problems like cataracts.
Johnston says, "police officers see a lot of conditions we wouldn't live in... Any time that I meet with one of those officers... And the officer is upset about it, I know that it's bad."
McClintock says, "it makes you angry, also sad because these dogs did not deserve to go through this."
But officials are happy that the dogs have been rescued, and now have a chance for a normal life.
McClintock says, "they deserve to be in a home where they can be on someone's lap and have someone pet them all the time because that's the kind of dogs they are."
One side note: twice in the past three years Votaw has been cited on other animal related charges.
The Animal Control Center says most of the dogs should be available for adoption after they are given a clean bill of health.