SIDNEY – A Sidney woman was found guilty of an act of cruelty against companion animals and deprivation of necessary veterinary medical sustenance, both second degree misdemeanors, on Friday in Sidney Municipal Court.
Grazyna Latocha, 68, 223 N. Walnut Ave., faces up to 90 days in jail on both charges, which stem from an accidental fire in her home on March 26. Sidney firefighters rescued 18 French bulldogs from the basement of the home despite Latocha’s assertion that there were no pets in the residence.
Also residing at the residence was Andrew Latocha IV, 28.
“We were very, very happy with the effort that Prosecutor (Jeff) Amick put in and also Deputy Kelli Ward,” Shelby County Chief Deputy Jim Frye said. “We also would like to thank Sidney Fire Department officers that provided testimony at the trial and heartfelt thanks to the vets, Tri-County Veterinary Services. They provided their expertise throughout the whole case and have provided veterinary care for the Frenchies.”
Seventeen of the dogs remain in care of Shelby County authorities – one of the dogs died after being removed from the residence – and authorities will file a motion with the court for forfeiture of the animals, Frye said.
Firefighters found the dogs kept in cages stacked on top of one another in about 4 feet of water in the basement after being called to a fire at the home, Frye said.
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 said 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 needed to have an eye removed, Frye said a veterinarian told him. Two other dogs were found to have vaginal prolapse.
Ward, a deputy and and Shelby County’s dog warden, 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, Frye said.
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 in April.
It took less than 40 minutes of deliberation for the jury to find Latocha guilty on both charges, Frye said.
“There was just so much information in that case and evidence,” he said, praising the work of Amick and Ward. “They just did an amazing job. We really appreciate it. They did exceptional work.”
Sentencing for Latocha is scheduled for Oct. 22.