Rescue owner arrested after 30 dogs found dead in freezers: Sheriff

Ronda Murphy, 60, is being charged with three counts of animal cruelty, the sheriff said.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 9:45 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2023 at 11:33 AM EDT
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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX) - A dog rescue owner was arrested Wednesday after nearly 100 dogs were seized and 30 were found dead in freezers at her animal rescue, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

Ronda Murphy, 60, is being charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a companion animal and one felony county of cruelty to a companion animal, but could face more as the investigation unfolds, Sheriff Jones said.

“I’ve never seen something like this in 46 years. Animals should never be treated like this. She will get her day in court. And we will be there. Her turn for being locked up now,” Jones told FOX19 NOW.

Murphy was picked up at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown Wednesday and is now being held in the Middletown Jail awaiting her arraignment.

Murphy’s bond for both misdemeanors and the felony charge was set at 10% of $2,500.

Ronda Murphy, 60, was arrested Wednesday after deputies found 100 dogs in cruel conditions and...
Ronda Murphy, 60, was arrested Wednesday after deputies found 100 dogs in cruel conditions and 30 dogs dead in her freezer.(Middletown City Jail)

Dog wardens with the sheriff’s office seized made the discovery last week at Helping Hands for Furry Paws in Madison Township.

An investigation revealed that adult canines and puppies in varying stages of decomposition were found inside five refrigerators/freezers on two separate properties, deputies said. They also said that some of the refrigeration units were not in working condition.

After searching both properties, dog wardens described the main house as unlivable and said the animals were found in “the most horrible conditions they have ever seen.”

Deputies say the area housed adult dogs, some caged together, and that the odor inside was “strong enough to burn their eyes and take away their breath.”

The garage was not much better.

Sheriff Jones says dogs were living without ventilation or air conditioning with indoor temperatures nearly reaching 90 degrees. Urine and fecal matter “filled” the cages and there was no food or water available. Other cages contained mothers and newborn puppies.

“Neglect that rises to this horrific level of cruelty will never be tolerated in this county,” Sheriff Jones said last week. “If you can’t properly care for your animals, there are many agencies that will help. Otherwise, you will go to jail.”

All of the dogs are being evaluated and treated at Animal Friends Humane Society.

They will remain there until they are relinquished by the owner or removed by the court.

The shelter is accepting donations to help cover the dogs’ medical bills, daily care and food. They are also accepting items such as puppy pads, bleach, laundry detergent, wet pate food and Science Diet brand dry food for adults and puppies.

Potential adopters can view the current adoptable animals and fill out an application on the Animal Friends Humane Society’s website.

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