Dozens of Animals Rescued from Deplorable L.I. “Shelter”

The stench forced some investigators to don breathing masks or hazardous materials suits.

A team from the Suffolk SPCA raided a home in Yaphank Wednesday and found some forty dogs, twenty cats, three horses, a goat and other animals living in what Chief Roy Gross called "deplorable conditions."

"The smell was overwhelming; the floor was covered with feces and urine," Gross said. "It's severe negligence, which is animal abuse."

Neighbors identified the home's owner as Deb Miller, who they say ran a shelter for abandoned and neglected animals.

They insisted that Miller didn't abuse animals; she saved them.

"They got this very wrong," said neighbor Kurt Butcher, referring to the SPCA investigators.  Butcher had adopted his own dog Tobie from Miller.

"She has taken animals nobody else would take and cared for them," said Florence Harff, a woman who worked with Miller.

"I don't know anybody more caring than she is."

Miller, said to be a high school teacher, didn't return to her home during the raid. But she told NBCNewYork by telephone, "I feel like my life is over. My concern has always been for the animals and that will never change."

In fact, Miller's Herding Dogs Rescue shelter is listed on a website for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC Animals, an umbrella group for rescue organizations. And one neighbor said she even saw trucks from city shelters bringing dogs to Miller's home.

"She loved those animals," said shelter volunteer Royette Alston, who said many of the dogs Miller took in were old and sick or were due to be euthanized at other shelters. 

But many of the dogs pulled from Miller's home were emaciated and covered with fleas, investigators said.  A mobile animal hospital was brought to the scene and veterinarians were called in to treat many of the dogs. Some are said to be in critical condition.

As for Miller's home, Brookhaven officials condemned it.  So now, all the animals need a new place to live.  Suffolk SPCA officials are asking the public to either adopt or serve as "foster parents" for the dogs, cats and horses. If you are interested, call 631-382-7722.

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