A Rhode Island man allegedly kept 24 dogs outside in the frigid cold and other animals in reportedly “deplorable and inadequate” conditions, the Providence Journal reports.
Authorities on Thursday charged 59-year-old Carlos Alves of Exeter, Rhode Island, with unnecessary cruelty to animals and mistreatment of animals.
Last week, officials seized 24 dogs from Alves’ home, where many of the canines were held in cages or tethered down outside amid freezing cold temperatures. The dogs also had frozen or empty water bowls, the Associated Press reports.
The arrest, by the Rhode Island State Police, was prompted by a complaint from the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Exeter Animal Control, which had received reports from a contractor that there were numerous malnourished animals at the residence, according to the newspaper.
Aside from the 24 dogs, police and animal caregivers found several newborn puppies; 40 rabbits; 40 ducks, chickens and roosters; and 10 goats in what authorities described as “deplorable and inadequate living conditions.”
At least some of the animals were reportedly surrounded by fecal matter.
Of the dogs seized, 14 were beagles, six were Brittany spaniels and four were Chihuahuas.
Police had obtained an arrest warrant for Alves and he surrendered to law enforcement on Thursday, according to state police.
The animal seizure was the largest in the state’s history, the newspaper reports.
Since his arrest, Alves has relinquished ownership of the dogs and many of the goats, and they are now up for adoption.
Authorities do not believe Alves intended to harm the animals, but rather that he simply didn’t have enough time or sufficient understanding of how to care for them.
“I do know there was no malice or intent,” said Joseph Warzycha, director of operations for the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“He has way too many animals. I just think he had too much on his plate.”
Warzycha said Alves was remorseful and cooperative during the investigation, and that he cried while speaking with animal welfare officials.
“I feed them,” Alves told authorities. “I feed them.”
[Feature image: Rhode Island State Police/Carlos Alves; Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals]