Utica's animal control officer made a startling and grisly discovery on Tuesday afternoon: An apartment full of dogs, some of them dead from starvation, others severely emancipated and barely alive. Our Andrew Sorensen spoke with police about the investigation.
UTICA, N.Y. -- What Utica's animal control officer found at an apartment on Whitesboro Street Tuesday afternoon was tragic.
"What they found was three dead animals and five additional dogs that were alive, extremely emaciated, showing signs of hypothermia. One of those dogs died shortly thereafter at the animal hospital," Sgt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department said.
About a week before the discovery, the same animal control officer had issued a ticket to Umar Aziz, 22, for having unlicensed dogs, but the officer wasn't allowed inside the house.
Police say the first time the officer went by the house, he found two healthy pit bulls. The next time, those animals were gone.
Neighbors say Aziz had a roommate, who owned the healthy dogs.
"He didn't like the way that the friend was treating his dogs and was sick and tired of trying to help him take care of his dogs and left with his own dogs and said no you can't, I don't want to be a part, I don't want to be a part of any of this."
The neighbor says when the roommate left, Aziz's dogs were sick, but not as sick as when police found them.
"Obviously these dogs were left to die," Sgt. Hauck said. "Some of [them] had undigested leather in their stomachs, from apparently trying to eat shoes to stay alive. Just a really horrific scene altogether."
Aziz was already in custody for unrelated charges when police found the dogs. He is expected to appear in court within days for charges of animal cruelty, having unlicensed and unvaccinated dogs and keeping dogs in unsanitary conditions.
The two adult dogs are currently being treated at the Stevens-Swan Humane Society in Utica. The two remaining puppies are still being treated at Burrstone Animal Hospital.