MICHIGAN CITY — A 67-year-old man was charged Tuesday with 35 counts of animal neglect after 34 dogs dogs were removed from his home and one was found dead.
Terry Marthinsen faces the misdemeanor charges after authorities rescued the dogs Monday from his home in the 200 block of South Woodland Avenue. Most of the dogs could not stand or walk, Sgt. Chris Yagelski said in a news release.*
The investigation, led by animal control Officers Jason Speakman and Julie Holbrook, began after a woman in the home was transported Friday to a hospital after being found covered with feces, urine, lice and maggots.
LaPorte County Adult Protective Services contacted police after finding a female resident on the back porch of the home, Yagelski said. She was taken to a hospital in serious condition.
Michigan City police later received a report of eight or more dogs barking inside the home and a stench perforating the neighborhood, police said. City ordinance allows only three dogs per home.
Animal control officers went to the home Monday, and a woman refused to allow them inside or says how many dogs were inside the home, police said.
The woman, speaking through a window, admitted the family did not have any city licenses or rabies tags for any of the animals.
A judge approved a search warrant, and officials rescued 34 dogs of various sizes. Many of the dogs could not walk or stand, police said. One dead dog was found.
Eight city ordinance violations were written for neglect of an animal, eight for no city tags and eight for no rabies certifications, for a total of 24 violations. The homeowner refused to then sign for the tickets.
Dr. Rex Bailey, a veterinarian at Michigan City Animal Hospital, temporarily closed down his facility to treat the dogs.
Staff from the LaPorte County HIDTA Drug Enforcement unit, lead by Lt. Tim Richardson, donned hazmat suits and breathing apparatuses to enter the home, Yagelski said.
The Michigan City Fire Department also was notified. The department brought breathing apparatus gear for all officers entering the home to wear because of the stench, risk of fleas and other potential diseases.
Because of the large number of animals, which were all infested with fleas and feces infections, the LaPorte County Animal Shelter and Michiana Humane Society arrived to help remove, isolate and assess each animal as it was taken from the scene.
Yagelski said, “We would also like to publicly thank the numerous citizens who have come forward with donations, and expressions of compassion for all of the dogs involved.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated from a previous version to correctly identify Terry Marthinsen.