SHERRARD, Ill. (KLJB/WGN) — In what officials called ‘one of the biggest animal hoarding cases ever discovered in Illinois,’ authorities rescued nearly 200 dogs from a western Illinois home over the weekend.
Nexstar-affiliate KLJB-TV reports that Mercer County Sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers went to a property in Sherrard and discovered dogs living in unsanitary, crowded conditions.
“A lot of matted coats, a lot of fecal matter, a lot of very, very skinny dogs,” Amber Stephenson, a volunteer from New Beginnings Pet Rescue of the Quad Cities, told KLJB-TV. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget the smell. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible.”
Officials said the dogs’ owner left them fecal matter. Officials add that most of the canines were also malnourished.
Officers arrested Karen Plambeck, a 59-year-old woman with a history of animal cruelty. She faces three counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
Court documents show prosecutors charged Plambeck in 2019 for a similar offense.
Neighbors say the dog situation has been a problem for several years, saying they didn’t know how worse the issue had gotten.
“When I heard there was 200, I mean, I fell out of my Ranger,” said Steven Foster. “I’m like, ‘I knew there was a lot of dogs, but I didn’t know there was that many.'”
Rehoming efforts are underway for the rescued dogs.