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HILLSVILLE — An informant who apprised Virginia State Police investigators about the kennels on a Coulson Church Road property described as "deplorable" the living conditions under which dogs were being kept.
Virginia State Police served a search warrant Thursday at 4207 Coulson Church Road at property owned by David Winesett, who once served as Carroll County's animal control officer.
The warrant was part of an investigation into a report from a citizen about how the kennels had been kept. Investigators seized 63 dogs from the property.
Winesett told The Roanoke Times there's no truth to suggestions that his dogs were mistreated.
"That is absolutely a mistruth, perpetrated by the radical animal rights groups," Winesett said Monday.
Winesett was the animal control officer in Carroll County for a 10-year term that ended in the late 1980s. He said he recently got back into the dog business by building a kennel next to his home and selling dogs through newspaper ads.
"I've been raising dogs for many, many years and I feel like I'm fairly well-versed in it, and I know my business fairly well," he said.
A Carroll magistrate signed off on the search warrant so that authorities could look for "animals that appear to be abused, neglected, malnourished or mistreated," as well as any documents or digital files about operations of the kennel, according to court papers released Monday.
The search was requested in relation to the possibility of alleged cruelty to animals.
In stating probable cause for the search, the document described a situation in which an informant was allowed to go inside the kennel and view the animals.
This person took photos of conditions at the kennel and of the dogs.
"The photographs show a large amount of animal feces and urine on the floor and surrounding area of the kennel," the search warrant said.
Several photos show animals with neglected medical conditions and inadequate spaces.
"The sanitation inside the kennel is described by the informant as 'deplorable,'" the search warrant said. "The condition described by the informant appears to be a direct and immediate threat to the animals' health, safety or life."
Investigators seized 63 dogs from the property.
The Angels of Assisi organization assisted with collecting the dogs.
Many of the dogs were Yorkies, but there was also a list including Boston terriers, poodle mixes, dachshund, Pomeranian, French bulldog and more.
The Angels of Assisi posted an update about the dogs on its Web site under the heading "puppy mill rescue." It asked for donations to help care for the animals. The organization said the seized dogs had treatment needs for "severe infections, extensive dental work and feet problems."
The animals needed baths and grooming when they arrived at the organization's Roanoke facility. All of them got medical exams.
"They are all feeling better — yesterday they were able to get short walks outside and seemed to love the fresh air and sunshine," the online posting said. "They have been groomed and, thanks to a special volunteer, all of them are sporting new red sweaters."