Laurelville dog

One of the dogs seized from a state Route 180 residence in January.

LOGAN – A special prosecutor has been appointed to handle the cases of a Laurelville area couple who were charged with cruelty to animals, after authorities allegedly seized 42 dogs, and three guns, from their home.

In a hearing this week, meanwhile, the county will be trying to get a defendant in the case to put up a bond to help pay for the cost of feeding and housing all those dogs, which have been in the care of the county’s animal shelter since they were seized. (Some of the dogs, which are all German Shepherds, are being housed at the Hocking County Humane Society’s facility.)

Hocking County Sheriff’s Detective David Wright, who serves as the county’s chief dog warden, estimated that this expense is conservatively around $15,000 per month.

“We’ve had these dogs since Jan. 22 of this year, and it has just overtaken the shelter,” Wright reported Monday. “It’s required a lot of work, and obviously expense, to take care of them.”

On Jan. 21 the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office received a report of animal cruelty taking place at the state Route 180 residence of Bobby and Tracey Fox, aged 51 and 52 respectively. The next day sheriff’s officers, accompanied by personnel from the Hocking County Health Department and the county humane society, executed a search warrant at the residence, seizing 42 dogs.

The searchers allegedly found a number of dogs without food or water both inside and outside the home, as well as around 100 pigeons, two cows and a number of chickens, including one chicken that was reportedly alive but frozen to the ground.

An incident report stated that five dogs inside the residence were being kept in wire cages too small for them to turn around in.

In late March the Foxes were indicted in Hocking County Common Pleas Court on two counts each of cruelty to companion animals, a fifth-degree felony.

On July 8 Hocking County Prosecutor Ryan A. Black filed applications with the court, asking for a special prosecutor to take over the cases, and citing as his reason the “complexity, time restraints and backlog of cases the current administration is handling.”

Judge John T. Wallace granted the request the same day, appointing attorney Jeffrey Holland, of the Sharon Center, Ohio-based law firm of Holland and Muiden, to prosecute the cases.

Wright said that Holland specializes in humane cases. “This is his expertise,” the officer said. “He said 90% of his practice is humane cases. And he is renowned throughout the state for this kind of stuff and has been doing it for years.”

A probable cause hearing is scheduled to take place July 22 in Tracey Fox’s case. At that hearing, Wright explained, Judge Wallace will determine whether or not authorities had probable cause to seize the dogs. If he finds probable cause, he can then set a bond that Fox can pay to cover the cost of caring for the animals; in the alternative, the dogs can be surrendered to the shelter.

Wright noted that while some of the canines were puppies at the time of the seizure, they have grown a lot bigger since January.

“Five of them were actually adult females, all of which have litters of puppies,” he said. “And then there were a couple of sets that were not with the mother, for a total of 42.”

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