Cruelty charges filed against 2 brothers in Sterling Heights dog hoarding

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
This is one of the 53 dogs Macomb County Animal Control removed from a home in Sterling Heights.

Sterling Heights – The Macomb County Prosecutor has filed animal cruelty charges against two brothers accused of hoarding 53 dogs in a Sterling Heights home. 

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said he has charged each of the men with the maximum charge of animal cruelty, a four-year felony. 

The brothers had been evicted from their home, where they were living with the dogs "in appalling conditions," Smith said.

While moving out on Feb. 13, the brothers rented a U-Haul truck, took a 10-foot table and flipped it up to keep the dogs from escaping, and loaded them into the truck "in a disturbing and very unsanitary manner," he said. 

A neighbor called Sterling Heights police after watching many dogs being loaded into the truck. Officers responded in time to rescue the dogs and notified Macomb County Animal Control, where they were housed and treated for malnourishment. 

Mark Hackel, Macomb County executive, said the feral dogs were so desperate to escape the truck, one had to be euthanized due to injuries it sustained in the struggle. 

Smith said neighbors had previously voiced concerns regarding the odor coming from the home and Animal Control had to respond to determine if an animal carcass was in the garbage.

“This is a horrific case of animal cruelty,” Smith said. “These dogs were emaciated, extremely dehydrated, covered in filth and scars. A female German Shephard mix had to be euthanized due to the injuries she sustained. As a dog lover, it is utterly devastating.”

The men told authorities they rescued the mixed-breed dogs, who ranged from puppies to 8-years-old, from the streets of Detroit. The dogs were covered in feces, with long yellow nails, and most were so skinny their rib cages were visible. 

Smith said the men, who are not being named before arraignment, are not currently in custody but are expected to be arraigned in 41-A District Court of Sterling Heights sometime next week.

"Animal cruelty will never be tolerated," Smith said. "The fact is, we need stronger penalties for hoarding and abusing these innocent animals."
Twitter: @SarahRahal_