Friday, March 25, 2011

Cottonwood man arrested after sick, injured dogs found

By Dylan Darling, Sean Longoria, Scott Mobley and Dylan Darling, The Record Searchlight

Bedrooms converted to kennels, officers say

Redding police arrested a Cottonwood man after finding 13 emaciated pit bulls and a dead puppy at his home.
Acting on a tip about an unlicensed dog-breeding business on the 17400 block of Marianas Way in Cottonwood, California Highway Patrol officers and Redding investigators Wednesday conducted a probation search at the home Larry Leon Fultz III, 26, said investigator Will Williams of the Redding Police Department.
The home was in deplorable condition, and the stench was overwhelming, Williams said. Bedrooms had been converted into makeshift dog kennels, and the floors were covered in dog urine and feces, he said.
They also found the pit bulls, many of them dying from disease and injury, police said. A 14th dog was found dead inside the garage.
The dog's owner said the puppy had died of parvo, said Mayra Morris, who manages the Animal Care and Enforcement Unit. Like Williams, Morris said the house was rank with urine and feces.
"It smelled. It reeked. It was hard to breathe," Morris said. "You had to keep going inside and out so you won't get overwhelmed," she said.
Despite the conditions inside, she said the home was in a nice Cottonwood subdivision off Happy Valley Road.
Animal control officers took the pit bulls, and county building code enforcement representatives found several violations at the home, Williams said.
Fultz was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and parole violation. He's being held in Shasta County jail without bail.
Shasta County Animal Control has dealt with Fultz a number of times since 2005, Morris said.
Fultz's earlier offenses were nothing like the inhumane suspected dog-breeding operation authorities discovered Wednesday, she said.
"The house was essentially being used as a kennel," Morris said.
Fultz originally had two pit bulls when he lived at a different address. They would occasionally run loose and cause a nuisance, Morris said.
One of the pit bulls was vicious, and animal control launched dangerous dog proceedings against Fultz in 2006, she said. Fultz gave up the dog, and it was euthanized.
Animal control got four more complaints about the other dog and its puppy running loose in 2008 through January 2009, after Fultz had moved to the Marianas Way address, Morris said. Authorities haven't had any more contact with Fultz since then. Animal control officers saw no evidence of multiple dogs when they last visited Fultz's home in early 2009, Morris said, though they did not go inside.
Five of the 14 dogs discovered Wednesday were puppies as young as 6 weeks. The nine adult dogs included the pit bull from the original pair and its one offspring, Morris said.
She said that Fultz turned the dogs over to the county and that they would likely be put up for adoption. Most of the dogs appear to be friendly to people, but their temperament may be different toward other dogs, she said.
"We were told they didn't get along with each other so they had to be kept separate," Morris said.
A detective unit in the Redding Police Department that investigates gangs and conducts probation and parole checks got involved in the Fultz case after visiting the home several weeks ago.
Redding police and the CHP were there on an unrelated probation check and suspected Fultz was harboring pit bulls in inhumane conditions then, said Sgt. Walt Bullington, Jr.
Redding police and CHP officers returned Wednesday to check out the situation with the dogs, Bullington said.

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