Hoarder couple kept more than 170 dogs living with mice, feces, urine — and not all the rescued terriers survived

A retired police officer and his wife have pleaded guilty to felony animal abuse charges after hoarding more than 170 dogs. 

Retired San Diego police officer Mark Vattimo, 72, and Christine Calvert, 62, of Poway, California, will likely be facing three years probation at their sentencing hearing on July 11, according to ABC affiliate KGTV San Diego.

The investigation into the couple’s animal abuse began in January, when a veterinarian reported to the Humane Society that multiple Yorkshire Terrier and Yorkshire-mix dogs were living in filthy conditions in a dark room in the couple’s home.  The Humane Society was initially denied entrance to the residence, but when they returned a few days later, officials removed 94 dogs. 

Later, 29 dogs were removed from a restaurant the couple owns.  And almost 50 additional dogs were rescued from the couple’s motorhome when Calvert was arrested in February in Primm, Nevada.

Investigators found the dogs living with feces and urine covering the floors and walls of the home.  Live mice were also found, and the dogs reportedly suffered from numerous ailments, including skin conditions, ear infections, fleas and hair loss.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that three of the dogs had to be euthanized because of their poor health, and five puppies born later to some of the pregnant dogs died of natural causes. 

The majority of the surviving dogs were adopted; in fact, interest was so high that the Humane Society decided to use a lottery system to select “forever homes” for the animals. 

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the San Diego Humane Society’s chief law enforcement officer Stephen MacKinnon issued a statement that the organization is “grateful for the support of the District Attorney’s Office and to be in a community that doesn’t tolerate animal cruelty or neglect.”   

Vattimo and Calvert’s plea agreement includes counseling for the couple as well as the title transfer of their 31-foot motorhome to the Humane Society as restitution.  Vattimo and Calvert will not face additional time behind bars, but will be banned from owning any pets for 10 years.

Feature Photo: Courtesy of San Diego Humane Society