Santa Barbara authorities decided not to press charges against the Lompoc man who was found with 104 dogs in his two-bedroom apartment last October.
The dogs, most of which were Chihuahua and Chihuahua mixes, were impounded by Santa Barbara County Animal Services staff after a concerned resident reached out.
After Animal Services concluded its investigation into the situation, it recommended to the District Attorney not to press any charges.
Animal Services Director Angela Yates told the News-Press that the situation began as a Good Samaritan trying to help animals, but spiraled out of control.
Due to the fact that the man, whose name has not yet been released, cooperated fully with Animal Services staff and surrendered the dogs, along with the fact that the dogs were all in good physical condition and didn’t show signs of neglect or abuse, staff felt it was unnecessary to pursue criminal charges.
The resident was in violation of the number of animals allowed without a kennel permit, but Animal Services recommended counseling and support, and Ms. Yates said Animal Control Officers are continuing to follow up with the individual to ensure the situation does not occur in the future.
“This is one of those situations that, just a few years ago, could have resulted in tragedy for these dogs,” Ms. Yates told the News-Press. “But, because of a strong Animal Services team and amazing collaboration with rescue partners, every single one of these dogs has found a new loving home.”
Within 12 hours of the initial report, all 104 dogs were safely housed for the night and rescue transports were scheduled for the morning, a feat Ms. Yates said she’s never seen before in her two decades of work in animal care. The dogs were placed at the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, Santa Barbara Humane Society, Ventura County Animal Services, Ventura Humane Society, Woods Humane Society and Burbank Humane Society.
Even at the time of the report, Ms. Yates said the situation didn’t lend itself to looking like a breeding operation.
“This case is a perfect example of how Santa Barbara County Animal Services can provide more community-based support,” she said. “We recognized that there was no intentional harm and took the opportunity to provide education and counseling rather than pursue legal action.”