A Winston-Salem man was charged with several offenses Friday after approximately 70 small-breed dogs were seized in an animal hoarding case in the northern part of Forsyth County, authorities said.
Fredrick Marcus Chriscoe, 74, of 1438 Old Hollow Road was charged with 79 counts of violating a county ordinance regarding the registration of dogs, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said. Chriscoe is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 20.
The sheriff’s office received an anonymous tip about the situation at Chriscoe’s home earlier this week.
The dogs were kept inside the small house, as well as in a pickup truck, a trailer and behind the Old Hollow Road house, said Sheriff Bill Schatzman. It’s the largest animal seizure case for the county that either Schatzman or the Forsyth County Humane Society can recall.
Of the 70 dogs on the property, only three were registered with the county, Schatzman said.
A dog or cat owner must pay a fee to register their pets annually with the county and provide proof that it’s been vaccinated for rabies.
The person who called about the dogs was concerned about the number on the property, Schatzman said.
The sheriff’s office spoke Wednesday with the resident at the house, who refused to surrender the dogs.
The sheriff’s office and animal control returned Friday to get the animals.
Chriscoe occasionally helped put the dogs in animal control’s transport trucks, cradling a Chihuahua against his chest as he carried it from the back of the property before placing it into the truck.
“This gentleman genuinely cares for these animals, but he’s on a fixed income, he’s elderly, and the cost for food is more than he has for money coming in,” Schatzman said.
“He’s not intentionally hurting these animals. It’s gotten beyond him, and we needed to intervene.”
Chief Deputy Brad Stanley said Forsyth County Animal Control was already investigating the property, but details about when it began investigating and for what, specifically, were unclear.
No one from animal control was available for comment Friday.
Schatzman said he expects the resident to be cited for violations of animal care, vaccines and county policy by animal control.
He said Chriscoe acquired many of the dogs through people dropping them off or by picking up strays. Schatzman stressed this was not a puppy mill.
Several volunteer organizations also helped with Friday’s undertaking at the house, including FurEver Friends, Piedmont Animal Rescue, UNchain Forsyth and UNchain Winston-Salem.
The approximately 50 volunteers were helping at the house on Old Hollow Road, as well as getting the animals settled at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter on Sturmer Park Circle.
The dogs were taken to the shelter initially, where they were processed Friday afternoon. The owner can still reclaim the dogs within 72 hours, if he pays the county licensing fees. If not, they will be assessed for adoptability.
Sarah Williamson, executive director of Forsyth Humane Society, said the agency began preparing for the dogs to come in at 9 a.m. Friday, although they were notified earlier in the week by animal control that they would be coming.
Many of the smallest dogs were put in permanent cages in a room typically reserved for cats. Other temporary crates were set up in a separate room, with blankets, toys and food and water dishes placed inside.
“The dogs are generally in good condition,” she said.
“Some are senior dogs, and may have senior issues. Some are afraid.”
She said people who have large numbers of pets sometimes let things get out of hand without knowing it.
“People really love the animals. They may not be people-persons, and all of their love goes into the animals,” Williamson said. “They don’t think anyone else can love the animals like they can.”
When she got word she’d be getting a large number of dogs, Williamson said she asked the volunteer organizations to help. She said she’s grateful for the 50 volunteers who turned out.
“We’ve never had this many come in before. Thirty intakes (a day) is a lot for us,” she said. “The dogs are being picked up, put on animal control trucks and transferred to the humane society. We’ve done a lot of planning.”
Once at the facility, they’ll get a rabies vaccine and be microchipped, Williamson said.
She stressed that the animals are not ready for adoption, and even if they aren’t reclaimed by their owner, they still won’t be available until next Wednesday at the earliest.
Even then, they may not be available for the public to adopt. The dogs will be assessed to see if they’ve been spayed or neutered. If they haven’t been, that will need to be done, something that could take weeks, Williamson said.
Since there are several specific breeds, some of those rescue groups have reached out to the humane society and offered to take some of those dogs, she said. It’s a move that’s a relief for the organization.
“Our first priority would be to place with another rescue, because they’ll take them unaltered and do that for us, and can place them in homes quickly,” Williamson said. “Of course, that may not be in Forsyth County.
She offers a word of advice for people wanting to adopt the dogs.
“Check our Facebook page, to not flood our switchboard,” she said. “We don’t know their condition. We just don’t know how many will be healthy, and we don’t want to place any sick or aggressive dogs.”