SIDNEY — The owner of the 18 french bulldogs rescued from the Walnut Avenue fire on March 26 appeared in Sidney Municipal Court Monday on charges for the animals’ lack of care.
Grazyna Latocha, 68, 223 N. Walnut Ave., appeared in court Monday, April 1, 2019, on one count of prohibitions concerning companion animals, a second degree misdemeanor. The case was continued to April 29 until she can obtain an attorney.
When Sidney Police officers arrived on the scene of the March 26 fire, one officer asked and occupant of the residence about pets in the residence, and was told there weren’t any, said Sgt. Josh Divens. The dogs were later discovered in the basement and were rescued by Sidney Firefighters.
Also residing at the residence was Andrew Latocha IV, 28.
According to Shelby County Chief Deputy Jim Frye, firefighters found the dogs kept in cages stacked on top of one another in about 4 feet of water in the basement.
The dogs were kept in cages without plastic trays on the bottom. Some of the dogs had callouses on their paws pads from the cages wires, Frye said. He noted urine and feces were running down the cages. No feces were found outside in the yard, he said.
Two dogs were found to have eye issues. One of the dogs will need to have an eye removed, Frye said a veterinarian told him. Two other dogs were found to have vaginal prolapse.
None of the dogs were injured as a result of the fire. One of the dogs died after being removed from the residence while in the care of the Shelby County Animal Shelter.
Frye said Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy and Dog Warden Kelli Ward found an advertisement on a website, allegedly posted by one of the Latochas, selling a litter of newly born (less than five days old) puppies on March 22. Firefighters told deputies they saw a plastic baby pool floating in the 4 feet of water in the basement, which was a suspected spot for the newborn puppies. The puppies would not have been able to swim yet, he said.
“Based on the post and what the firefighters’s saw with the baby pool, we believe there were other puppies that perished as a result of the fire,” Frye said.
The dogs will continue to be kept at the animal shelter while the case is under investigation, Frye said. The dogs cannot be returned to the home, he said, because there is a city ordinance that allows only up to three dogs to be kept in a home.
Sidney’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services ruled the cause of the fire to be accidental.
The case remains under investigation.