Nearly 100 dogs rescued in Lauderdale County and Tuscumbia

More than 90 dogs seized in Colbert, Lauderdale Counties
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WAFF) - Over the past two days, authorities in Lauderdale County and Colbert County have seized around 90 dogs from the same owner, in two different locations.

On Friday morning the Tuscumbia Police Department and Colbert County Animal Control rescued 22 dogs from a home on Decatur Street. The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and Florence Lauderdale Animal Services have been working since Thursday to rescue almost 70 from a property in the Center Star area.

Tuscumbia Police said Friday’s rescue came after a week-long investigation into abused and neglected dogs at the home. A search warrant was served and the dogs were taken to the Colbert County Animal Shelter.

Corey Speegle, the shelter’s director, said several of the dogs were injured or malnourished.

Florence Lauderdale Animal Services sent out a cry for help from the public on Thursday as the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office began preparations to rescue the 45 adult dogs and 24 puppies in Center Star.

Investigator Matt Burbank with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said a search warrant was served at the property after receiving several tips about neglected dogs.

One of the dogs was removed on Thursday for medical treatment. Rescue efforts for the rest began Friday morning. As of Friday afternoon, around 40 dogs remain. All of the puppies have been rescued. In the meantime, the roughly 40 adult dogs that remain on the property are being cared for by Florence Lauderdale Animal Services and deputies.

Florence/Lauderdale Animal Services Director Cheryl Jones believes that all of these dogs were a part of a dogfighting operation.

Police have not confirmed this allegation. No arrests have been made in the case but both the Tuscumbia Police and Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office said charges could be forthcoming at the end of the investigation.

Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan said the dogs in Tuscumbia and the dogs in Lauderdale County are owned by the same person.

Tuscumbia police said the municipal ordinances of the City of Tuscumbia related to animals in city limits restrict the number of three dogs unless they are licensed kennels. According to Tuscumbia Police, the home does not qualify for a business license and is located in the city limits.

Overpopulation at the shelters was already an issue for the Colbert County Animal Shelter before the investigation on the properties started. To prepare for the incoming dogs, Colbert County Animal Services had to purchase 20 new cages to house them. In a recent report, Colbert County Animal Shelter Director Corey Speegle said the shelter is built to house 20 dogs, as of Jul. 7 the shelter had 80.

Speegle told WAFF 48 on Friday that the shelter is “making room,” and the staff is doing everything they can to help the animals. He said the public can help by bringing food and cleaning supplies to the shelter.

Jones says the number of dogs being brought into the Florence shelter surpasses the number of animals already at the shelter, meaning the population will more than double. The shelter is trying to make room for more than 60 dogs that all require cages, food, and shots. Although there may not be enough room, Jones said euthanizing the dogs is not on the table.

“They’ll have to be held, pending the investigation and then ultimately court proceedings,” Jones said. “Depending on if a hearing is petitioned to ask the judge to award custody to the animals to the seizing authority. That wouldn’t come until a much later time, which is part of the issue because they have to be housed and cared for while the court process plays out.”

This is a developing story. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.