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IRONTON — Sixty-seven counts of animal cruelty were filed Thursday against an Ironton area man in Ironton Municipal Court, according to Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson.

The dogs were being held in horrible and inhumane conditions at 5258 Ohio 650 west of Ironton, according to Jason Newman, a detective with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office who also serves as county humane agent.

Newman secured a search warrant for the property of Ruben Ted Sprouse. The dogs were confiscated from the property last week. Some are being held by the Friends of Lawrence County Rescue, some at Pitiful Paws in Chesapeake, Ohio, and some were taken by BREW, a beagle rescue group, Newman said Thursday.

“I have been doing this for two years and have never seen anything this bad,” Newman said.

The dogs were kept in wire cages that didn’t contain food or water, according to Newman.

Most of the dogs were beagles, but there were mixed breeds among the animals confiscated, he said. The dogs were emaciated and had mange, Newman said.

Desiree Flannery, executive director of Pitiful Paws Rescue, told authorities she was notified by a neighbor about the condition in which the animals were being kept. One animal was found lying beside the road at the property and was taken to the animal shelter where it died, she said.

Sprouse sold a rat terrier puppy to rescue officials and gave another older dog to them, she told authorities. The group also bought another small dog that could barely stand up, she said.

Some kennels contained more than one dog, Newman said.

Authorities obtained a search warrant and served it June 17. The animals were confiscated that day, he said. Dog feces were piled high in some of the cages, he said.

The rescued animals are doing better and being nursed back to health, Newman said.

None of the animals had county dog licenses, and he wasn’t sure if Sprouse had a kennel license.

The animal cruelty charges are second-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. The case has yet to be docked in Ironton Municipal Court.

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