BLUFFTON — The 70 animals at TLU Rescue needed to be saved twice, once by the Bluffton-based animal rescue shelter and once by humane officers Friday night.
Now the owner of the rescue could face criminal punishment after cleanup crews found “more of a hoarding situation than an animal rescue,” said Teresa Landon, executive director of the Ohio SPCA & Humane Society.
“The animals didn’t have clean food at all,” she said. “Inside the cages we found maggots that were in the food. These animals were living in their own waste.”
The Bluffton Police Department originally responded to a complaint Friday night about TLU Rescue, 142 Vance St., Chief Rick Skilliter said. Officers found “conditions from the exterior to be concerning,” Skilliter said, so they visited owner Wendy Dunlap’s residence on Greding Street. They found bad conditions for animals there, too, before deciding to call in the Ohio SPCA & Humane Society in Lima.
Dunlap, the director of TLU Rescue, declined to comment Monday morning.
“I’m not talking about anything until I speak to my lawyer,” she said.
TLU Rescue formed in May 2009 as a 501(c)(3) charity, according to its profile on AdoptaPet.com: “We are a small rescue, helping mostly small breed dogs find their forever homes. Occasionally we will help a large breed dog, however at this time we are not setup for large breeds. When we rescue a dog, it is brought into our home where it becomes a part of our family and is loved unconditionally.”
Landon was careful in discussing the case, saying she’d hand it to the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office to pursue as a criminal case.
“The amount of feces and urine was overwhelming,” Landon said. “The ammonia levels were extremely high in both properties. It required wearing masks in the facility on Vance Street.”
One dog died since Friday, but the other cats and dogs should be eligible for adoption at Ohio SPCA & Humane Society once they pass veterinary tests. The shelter, at 3606 Elida Road, Lima, is open 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays.
The rescue put a strain on the Ohio SPCA, Landon said, the facility now had 370 animals in it. The group took over the struggling former Humane Society of Allen County in November, and now it’s struggling itself.
Landon said, “We did not arrive in Lima with hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we are volunteers dedicated to our mission.”
People can donate online at www.ohiospca.org, via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or via mailed checks to Ohio SPCA & Humane Society; 3606 Elida Road; Lima, OH 45807.
“We need people to come in and adopt, and we need the community to come back with their donations,” Landon said.
Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.