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Wilson County authorities seek hundreds of dogs

Authorities are searching for hundreds of dogs they say a Wilson County woman hid after authorities began investigating allegations of deplorable living conditions for the animals.

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KENLY, N.C. — Authorities are searching for hundreds of dogs they say a woman hid amid an investigation into allegations that the animals lived in deplorable conditions, said Major Mickey Wilson, head of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office's animal enforcement division.

The woman, whose name has not been released, had about 237 dogs at her residence, Wilson said. After the investigation began last weekend, Wilson said, the woman dispersed the dogs across the state.

"She told the people, 'Just keep them for 30 days for me until I can relocate them, so animal control can't get them,'" Wilson said. "She thought she got rid of the evidence, (and) we wouldn't be able to charge her."

Authorities had found 140 of the dogs as of Saturday afternoon. Some of those animals were found to be in good health, while others needed immediate medical attention, Wilson said. Five dogs died.

"We've seen a wide variety of issues: some with open wounds on their legs, some with fleas and ticks. So, so far it's pretty horrific," said Amanda Arrington with the Humane Society of the United States.

Crews set up a staging area at the Wilson County Fairgrounds, 2332 U.S. Highway 301 South, on Friday. The location has kennels and veterinarians to treat the animals as they are found.

The National Humane Society and the North Carolina State University Veterinary Hospital are among the groups assisting.

"One of the first things they're going to need is just some TLC (tender loving care)," said Elizabeth Bartlow with the Wake County SPCA.