Couple Arrested in Alleged Wicomico County Puppy Mill Case - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Couple Arrested in Alleged Wicomico County Puppy Mill Case

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Robert Murphy is shown following his arrest Monday. (Photo: WBOC) Robert Murphy is shown following his arrest Monday. (Photo: WBOC)
Susan Murphy following her arrest Monday. (Photo: WBOC) Susan Murphy following her arrest Monday. (Photo: WBOC)
Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC) Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC)
Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC) Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC)
Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC) Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC)

EDEN, Md.- Two arrests were made Monday morning in connection with an alleged puppy mill in Wicomico County.

Robert Murphy, 60,and Susan Murphy, 67, were taken into custody at their home on Cooper Road in Eden. It was on April 6 when police removed 310 dogs, a majority of them Pomeranians, from the Murphy's property.  According to police, the dogs were removed from four different structures on the Cooper Road property, including the couple's home.

According to police, the dogs were found to be living in deplorable conditions.  Many of them living in cages surrounded by their own fecal matter with severely matted fur. Ten dogs were found in one building, 24 in another, 110 dogs found in a third building, and 166 were removed from the Murphys' residence.  According to police, the dogs in the third building were not provided with adequate water, shelter, or space and inside the Murphys' home, the air quality was so poor it burned the eyes and noses of the responding officers.  Police said there was a strong smell of urine and feces in the home and the dogs inside were also not provided with adequate water, shelter, or space.

"Just the straight smell of ammonia," said Aaron Balsamo, the executive director of the Wicomico County Humane Society.  "My eyes burned, it was that bad.  You had to go in and out of the house taking shifts, taking breaks, because our eyes were burning so bad."

"There were also the remains, the skeletal remains, of many dogs located in these outbuildings as well as many puppies who had actually gnawed off their own limbs," said Wicomico County Sheriff, Mike Lewis.  "There were many dogs found in deplorable and egregious health conditions."

Both Robert and Susan Murphy are facing 84 charges each, including several counts of animal cruelty and animal cruelty with failure to provide veterinary care and nutritious food.  The first court date for the Murphy's has not yet been set.  This is also not the first time the Murphy's have been charged with animal cruelty on the Eastern Shore.  The couple was charged with animal cruelty to dogs in Cambridge back in 2009 but were ultimately acquitted in the case.  

However, during the investigation in 2009, the animal control officer documented the Murphy's had left the Dorchester County residence and moved to Eden.  In the 2009 statement of charges, the officer documented that she had reached out to the Wicomico County Humane Society and said Robert and Susan Murphy had moved to Wicomico County and had plans to continue breeding and selling dogs.  The Dorchester County Animal Control officer also noted a Wicomico County animal control officer did check on the Eden property and found no violations but would continue to monitor the situation.

Many of the rescued dogs from the Cooper Road property required veterinary and cosmetic care before the would be available for adoption.  After their rescue, the community rallied behind the pups and flooded the Wicomico County Humane Society with donations for the dogs.

Over time, the rescued dogs were able to get back to normal the community once again came out in support and to adopt the pups.  Rescued dogs were sent to humane society's across Delmarva, from Cambridge to Dover, with people across the peninsula adopting the dogs to give them their new forever homes.

The Murphy's have been interviewed by police prior to their arrest.  According to court documents, Susan Murphy told police she did not know how many dogs the couple had on their property. Court documents also show that when Susan Murphy was asked about cleaning up after the dogs, she responded, "I tried, I really tried but it was just too much."

Susan Murphy, according to the documents, also told police she sold puppies but that she did not keep a record of to whom she sold the dogs.  Murphy also told police she acquired the Pomeranians from Ohio and said, "I spent a fortune on my dogs getting the breeding stock that I had with those colors; they don't come cheap."  

"This was a case that honestly, quite frankly, shocked our conscious," Lewis said.  "We have never seen anything like it.  To see these precious dogs at the Humane Society in the condition they were found in, I certainly haven't seen anything like it."

According to the court documents, Susan Murphy told police she would sell a Pomeranian to a buyer from anywhere from $350 to $500.

Also on the Web:

Robert Murphy charging documents

Susan Murphy charging documents

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