SACRAMENTO -- A Sacramento animal control team removed dozens of dogs living in poor conditions inside an Elk Grove home.
Officials say the animals will be OK but the owner could face criminal charges for what's described as a case of animal hoarding.
“We were able to step in and make a difference for these animals,” said Chief Animal Control Officer Jace Huggins.
It was nearly two weeks ago when Sacramento County deputies served an eviction notice to a tenant on Damascas Drive, never expecting what they would find inside.
"Considering the number of animals, could it have been a lot worse? Yes. Should any animal have to live like that? No," Huggins told FOX40.
Thirty-three dogs were piled in cages living in unsanitary conditions. Animals as large as German shepherds and as small as Yorkshire terriers were crowded inside the residence.
Officer Huggins said the dogs appeared to be fed and there were no signs of physical injuries.
"It is very rare that we run into somebody who has too many animals because they didn't care about them,” Huggins explained. “More often than not, it is the best of intentions that kind of go awry from there and then it becomes out of control."
By Sunday night, there was a criminal investigation underway for abandonment and failure to provide adequate care
"I am a big proponent of pursuing criminal charges whenever I feel that it is prudent, both for animals but also for people," Huggins said.
A misdemeanor charge for cruelty to animals would prohibit the owner from obtaining another animal for at least five years. A felony conviction would carry a 10-year ban.
The animals were transported to the Front Street Animal Shelter where they received much needed-care and medical treatment.
Many have already gone on to loving homes. Of the 33 dogs, 26 have already been adopted.
Officials expect the seven remaining dogs to be rehomed soon and are hoping their story serves as a lesson to other animal owners to not be afraid to ask for help and always put safety first.
"Reach out and ask for help before it gets completely overwhelming," Huggins said.
If you're interested in adopting one of the remaining animals, you can do so when the shelter reopens on Wednesday at noon.