ORANGE (CBSLA) — Authorities say nearly 140 dogs were found inside a mansion in Orange Thursday afternoon.
The home is located in the 3800 block of East Woodbine Avenue in a gated community.
Rescuers with Animal Care said the stench was so bad it was unbearable.
SKY2’s Stu Mundel was overhead when various workers — clad in HazMat suits — could be seen taking dogs from the location.
The home was reportedly red-tagged due to conditions inside the dwelling.
About 136 dogs — covered in feces, urine and fleas — were pulled out of the home one-by-one and medically assessed.
Butler spoke to neighbors who had no idea that the couple who lived in the home even had a dog, let alone 130 or more inside the multi-million dollar home.
“I just can’t even imagine that anyone would do something like this,” said a woman named Maryann.
Most of the dogs — Shih Tzus and Maltese, officials said.
“The conditions, just going up to that car, and smelling right now?, the stench coming out of the vents,” said one neighbor. “They’re adorable. had no idea anything like this was going on.”
A tip at 2:30 Thursday afternoon led police to the home.
They found dogs in all parts of the residence.
Police said the owners — Edward and Jo Reitkopp — lived in the house with the dogs.
“There was very little furniture inside that residence,” says Sgt. Phil McMillan with the Orange Police Department. “And there was dog excrement, urine all over, inside on the floor. It appeared to be unlivable. The smell was unbearable for me. I’m surprised how people could live in that situation.”
The couple was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty but more severe charges could be added as Orange County Animal Care removes the dogs and gives them a once-over.
Butler spoke to a neighbor who said she bought a Shih Tzu from Reitkopp ten years ago. She says she spent $8,000 on Annie — the dog she said had a myriad of health problems and died just four-and-a-half years later.
“When I walked up here, I saw it was the house, I nearly broke down in tears because it was a long haul for four-and-a-half years,” said Lisa Paul.
She also told Butler she was told Reitkopp was a breeder but she had no idea what she was getting into. Paul said she is still grieving the loss of her dog and hope there weren’t other families out there also mourning a similar loss.