“2016 started off with a bang because on Jan. 1, we seized 66 dogs from a home located in Rockville,” said Jack Breckenridge, animal cruelty investigator with Montgomery County Animal Services Division.
The home teemed with piles of clutter towering towards the ceiling and cages covered in years old filth.
“We learned a lot of lessons from that case, in terms of how to manage large-scale impounds, and it turns out that came in handy because it tended to be the theme of the year,” said Breckenridge.
Officers saw it time and time again: hoarding, animals stuffed in homes, not properly cared for.
Another couple treated kittens for fleas, but instead of killing the fleas, the Derwood home practically bred the parasites.
“We discovered two dogs, nine chickens, and 33 cats, and just an unbelievable amount of solid waste hoarded inside of the house,” said Breckenridge.
2016 brought an influx of animal cruelty cases, but Detective Breckenridge says that’s not necessarily a bad sign, as the animal services force continues to grow, including the establishment of his position as full-time.
“We’ve been able to put a lot better cases together this year and put more time into the investigations of them,” said Breckenridge.
Opened in 2014, the young facility has a list of questions left to be answered, in order to improve preventative measures.
“We need to find out where some of the issues are within the community; we need to find out where animals are coming from,” said Katherine Zenzano, Community Outreach Coordinator. “If there’s an area where we’re seeing a number of cases, we need to find out where it is.”
Animal services said some of the best ways people can help animals are cost-free.
You can call when concerned by something you see, volunteering your time at the adoption center, or something as simple as sharing posts on social media to help get animals adopted.