POLK COUNTY, Ga. — Polk County authorities are investigating after finding “one of the worst cruelty to animal cases we have ever seen” on Monday.
Police found more than 70 dogs about 200 yards behind a house on Cash Town Road in Aragon, which is just north of Rockmart and about 50 miles west of Atlanta. Tuesday afternoon police said they found 35 more dogs in another location.
An anonymous tip led police to the woods.
The dogs were found malnourished, living in cages or chained up to trees or stakes in the ground.
"It's devastating, especially if you're an animal lover," Polk County Police Chief Kenneth Dodd said. "You know, I have three dogs at home and I just love them and it makes you want to cry, really."
Police arrested Devechio Rowland, the man claiming to be the dogs' owner. He has been charged with 70 counts of animal cruelty.
“He says he was feeding and watering them. It appears like he was trying, but it took us an hour with 10 of us to feed and water them,” Dodd said.
Dodd said Rowland has a history with animals. He was charged in 2010 with dogfighting, but the case didn’t go anywhere because the main witness couldn’t testify.
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Police said their focus now is getting the dogs the care they need, then eventually into good homes.
Shelters from multiple counties, including Polk, Pickens, Cherokee and Douglas are stepping in to help.
Dodd said despite what they’ve been through, the dogs are remarkably friendly.
“Every one of them I walked up to jumped on me. I’ve pet every one of them three times. Some of them have licked me in the face, so they mean nobody any harm,” he said.
Investigators are trying to figure out if any of the dogs were stolen. People with lost pets have been reaching out to the police department on Facebook.
“The people that are coming to help us have a scanner to scan for chips because a lot of these pet owners are saying, ‘My dog has a chip.’ So hopefully we’ll be able to recover some people’s lost dogs,” Dodd said.
The dogs not matched with their owners will go up for adoption.
“Those babies just want to be loved, so hopefully we can get that out there and find somebody who wants these dogs,” Dodd said.
Cox Media Group