A man is facing three years in jail for animal neglect charges after five dogs were found living in unsanitary conditions in his Los Angeles home, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Wednesday.
Oscar Alonso Melgar has been charged with five counts of animal neglect and one charge of maintaining a dog kennel without a permit.
The dogs, all boxers that are eight months to five years old, were found “severely malnourished and infested with ticks” on Aug. 14, officials said in a news release.
Animal control officers from the Department of Animal Services discovered the dogs while responding to a complaint about the home.
Neighbors reported unsanitary, unhealthy living conditions, as well as the prevalence of ticks, which began infesting neighboring properties, officials said. Neighbors apparently were so concerned about the dogs that one started to give them water.
Puppy, Bruno, Brando, Blanca and Spot were kept in an “unkempt, enclosed dirt yard,” and even from the sidewalk, the officers could see that the dogs were “covered with ticks on their noses, mouths, ears and cheeks,” officials said.
The dogs appeared to be so malnourished that their bones were visible.
“In addition to their very poor physical state, they allegedly exhibited non-socialized behavior,” officials said. “They were unfriendly, would run away when approached, hide under parked cars on the property and growl.”
The officers contacted the owner, who surrendered ownership of the dogs at the scene.
The dogs were treated for flea and tick infestation and have been adopted.
One of the dogs, Blanca, was pregnant and gave birth to three healthy puppies that were also adopted.
Officials believe Melgar may have been in possession of up to six dogs on his property at any one time over the last four years, during which he allegedly bred puppies for profit.
“I take protecting the welfare and safety of pets and all animals very seriously. They should be cherished,” Feuer said. “When they’re mistreated, as we allege in this case, we will vigorously prosecute.”
The city attorney added that the animal officers’ work likely saved the dogs’ lives.
Aside from jail time, Melgar also faces a $6,000 fine.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 20.