Laurel woman charged with 77 counts of animal cruelty

LAUREL — A 75-year-old Laurel woman was arrested Wednesday on animal cruelty charges, after officers discovered 35 dogs living in inhumane conditions on her property.

Last week, the Office of Animal Welfare’s Delaware Animal Services enforcement unit responded to a complaint concerning the welfare of animals on a Laurel property. DAS executed a search warrant to enter the property, where officers discovered 35 hound dogs living in harsh, filthy conditions in kennels covered in feces and on tethers throughout the owner’s property, according to authorities.

Officers arrested Leona Long on 77 charges, including 35 counts of cruel neglect, 35 counts of failure to obtain dog licenses and seven counts for failure to vaccinate for rabies, police said.

Ms. Long was arraigned in Justice of the Peace Court 3 in Georgetown and released on $37,000 unsecured bail. She is prohibited from possession of domestic animals, excluding fowl and rabbits, pending a court hearing.

“It was obvious the animals had been neglected for some time, and suffered tremendously as a result,” said Mark Tobin, chief of DAS, in a statement. “To see their tails wag despite such a miserable environment is incredible. These dogs now have a fighting chance for a better future.”

The animals were transferred to the custody of the Brandywine Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the state’s contracted shelter provider. The dogs range in age from 6 months to 9 years and will be put up for adoption.

The BVSPCA’s medical team found the dogs to be in fair to poor condition. The team said that the medical needs — such as swollen feet (presumably from the living conditions), thin body weights, eye infections and ear issues — are treatable.

The dogs are available for adoption at the BVSPCA’s campuses in New Castle, Georgetown and West Chester, Pennsylvania. Individuals can also make donations to help support the significant cost of the intake.