HARTFORD, Kansas (KSNT) – A Kansas couple faces multiple counts of animal abuse after 14 wolf-dogs were rescued from a home. Wolf-dogs are a unique breed that are part-domestic dog and part-wolf.
Thomas and Rhonda Staggs were arrested on outstanding warrants when the animals were rescued, and the animal abuse charges were later added.
On May 26, Lyon County deputies and animal control contacted conservation group Guardians of the Wolves as they served orders from Hartford Municipal Court at the . The house had had complaints of noise and excessive animals at the home. The city only allows up to five pets over the age of six.
Guardians of the Wolves CEO Lori Wynn said the scene she walked into was one of the most horrific she had ever seen in her years of wolf rescues.
When authorities and the rescue team arrived, the plan was to take all but five animals, but it was determined that the conditions were not safe for any living being. The animals were up to their elbows in sewage in the backyard. Inside, the scene appeared even worse.
“There were animal feces all over the house, the smell was horrendous but there was a specific room where there were two adult animals kept in cages that is just horrific,” Wynn said. “And then from that room, it leads to a bedroom that there were feces all over and blood all over – that room is where we found two puppies. We were told there were two other puppies that died, so we assume that’s where the blood came from.”
According to Wynn, at least one puppy was found to be inbred from brother and sister wolf-dogs. The puppies are currently in foster care and are slowly recovering.
The adults were extremely malnourished. Many of them were suffering from parvo and heartworm among other diseases. Wynn also believes one was just lost to rabies.
“Two days before we got there two different SUVs pull up, one loaded. They removed a whole lot of puppies from the property,” Wynn said. “Another SUV came and removed a bunch of the adult dogs. We’re very concerned about it because anybody that would help (the couple) is part of the problem here.”
The wolf-dogs were taken to a specialized sanctuary meant for these types of canines, but the location of their new home is being kept private for their safety.
“She (Rhonda Staggs) had threatened that if anyone was coming for her animals, she would kill them,” Wynn said.