A quiet lakeside home in Murrayville became the scene of a nightmare animal cruelty case this week when law enforcement discovered the rotting carcasses of more than a dozen dogs left inside the home.
Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard said the home was rented by two adults and two children who moved suddenly when faced with eviction.
"We are going to be pursuing 15 counts of animal cruelty," Woodard said. "We’re going to be pursuing some reckless conduct because their were children in the home with the animals and with the horrible state. I think the sum total is 17 or 18 warrants that we’re pursuing and charges we’re going to be prosecuting."
Hall County Animal Control received a call on Sept. 8 about a dead dog in the yard of the home at 7733 Elm Circle.
"We responded and issued a citation for failure to dispose of an animal carcass," said Animal Control Director Mike Ledford.
There was also another dog running loose at the time that the officer told the tenant to contain.
"The officer reacted to what was visible," Ledford said. "That animal did not appear to be in any distress."
Two days later, the landlord and a cleaning service went to the house to clean after the tenants left. When they entered the home, they discovered 16 dog carcasses "in varying stages of decomposition," according to Col. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities were greeted by a gruesome sight.
"When we returned the folks had moved and gone," Woodard said. "All of these animal carcasses were found. Some wrapped in plastic. Some I believe in Tupperware bowls, under blankets, burned in a fire pit."
Sam Bagwell, the attorney representing landlord Ed Krol, said the rental home was managed by a property management company and he had no idea the former tenants had any pets, let alone 16 on the property.
"(The tenants) had only been there about three and a half to four months," Bagwell said. "They lived there only a very short time."
Bagwell said the tenants were already being evicted before the animals were found because they failed to pay rent and left garbage out in front of the property.
Dogwood Trail resident Amy Lyons said in an e-mail to The Times that her former neighbors were very reclusive.
"I live in a nice neighborhood with wonderful neighbors, we all look out for each other and each other’s children," Lyons said. "New neighbors were not very social. We rarely saw them except when they were coming or going. We never even saw the kids outside playing."
Lyons said she became suspicious that animals might be stuck in the house and looked through a window. She was extremely disturbed by what she saw.
"The house was full of trash!!! Disgusting, can not even put into words," Lyons said in the e-mail.
Deputies have secured arrest warrants for the former tenants of the residence for multiple counts of cruelty to animals and Ledford said Animal Control has further charges pending.
Because the dead animals were in an advanced stage of decay, it is not clear what breed the dogs were. Strickland said he does not suspect at this time that the dogs were used for fighting.