OHIO — February 18, 2011  The largest case of animal neglect in the country, with nearly 400 animals abused, is currently being investigated at an animal shelter run by Jeff Burgess. He stands to face 10 criminal charges. The animals are being rehabilitated, but their condition calls into question current animal care law.  — Global Animal

Photo Credi:t Jerry Wolford

Springfield News-Sun, Steve Bennish

BETHEL TWP., Clark County — Authorities will likely spend the weekend investigating an animal neglect case here because of the large number of animals — 361 dogs and 15 cats at last count — kept in two old hog barns.

It’s the largest case of its kind that the county has seen, said Clark County Humane Society Director Jim Straley Friday.

The Thursday raid on the property at 8393 Lower Valley Pike is the second shelter raided by authorities in two weeks operated under the One More Chance Adoption name and owned and managed by New Carlisle resident Jeff Burgess. Burgess has denied wrongdoing.

Last week, Piqua authorities confiscated 100 dogs at a shelter he ran in that city. Eleven criminal charges — including nine related to cruelty to animals — were filed by the Piqua Health Department against Burgess, 56. One charge accuses him of failing to immunize dogs against rabies, nine of the charges allege animal cruelty, and one charge alleges unsanitary conditions.

Shortly after the Thursday raid, the Clark County Board of Health declared the Lower Valley Pike shelter a public health nuisance.

Straley said his entire staff was at the property Friday to handle the situation. The animals are being cared for and fed, he added. A Clark County Sheriff’s deputy is on scene for security. Sixteen deceased animals were found at the site.

Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, said his staff assisted Clark County in removing 15 animals from the property Thursday that were in urgent need of medical care. He said a number of other animals needed to be assessed. He said it appears the case is one of the largest ever handled by Ohio animal welfare workers.

Kumpf is critical of state animal care law, which he said is inadequate because shelters aren’t required to undergo annual inspections. Private rescue operations, often in residential areas, typically fall only under local zoning codes.

“When you are talking about 500 animals collectively, that is big,” Kumpf said. “There will be serious challenges for folks working through this case.”

Dogs removed from the Piqua operation will be available for adoption at the Animal Resource Center. Call (937) 898-4457 for more information.

A Clark County Humane Society Rescue Fund has been set up. Cash or check donations can be made at Security National Bank.