The hours-old puppies that softly whined from inside a towel-lined crate were only two of the 78 dogs found in a feces-filled house in El Cajon Thursday morning.
San Diego Humane Society officials called the small home on El Monte Road near Petree Street “the worst hoarding situation” they’ve ever encountered.
Officers went to check on the property after neighbors called, concerned about the home and its resident.
What they found was unbelievable.
Seventy-eight dogs of all ages were living inside. Inches of feces coated the floors in every room. The smell of urine was so strong, officers who first arrived could only stay inside for seconds at a time.
A special animal control team was sent to remove the animals, with the resident’s permission. A veterinarian quickly assessed each animal before they were taken to the San Diego Humane Society campus on Gaines Street for a more comprehensive check up.
Once empty, officers assessed the house and ultimately condemned it.
At the Gaines Street campus, the dogs were to be treated for any health issues, spayed or neutered and evaluated for any behavioral issues.
While some of the animals suffered from skin or respiratory conditions, none of the dogs appeared to have life-threatening injuries or showed signs of abuse, said Chief Stephen MacKinnon of the Humane Society.
Most of the animals were small breeds including Chihuahua and dachshund mixes, officials said. One in the bunch was larger than the rest.
The smallest included a litter of gray and white puppies that had been born in the past 24 hours, officials said.
MacKinnon said the animals seemed friendly but fearful. Some had never been outside. Only about a third of the animals had access to the backyard.
If all goes well, the dogs should be available for adoption in the coming weeks.