76 Rottweilers Found Living in “Deplorable” Conditions

Sylvia Panetta of Wallkill was arrested on animal abuse and neglect charges

Authorities in an Orange County town are searching for new homes for 76 Rottweilers found living in what they called one of the most disturbing cases of animal abuse and neglect they've seen.

The dogs were discovered in the Wallkill home of Sylvia Panetta, with most of them living in the fenced-in backyard. The ground had nails sticking out in some parts, and the animals were eating and sleeping in white huts, according to officials. The dogs were fed stale bread.

"A lot of the fencing was caving in, and there were even boards with nails sticking up that were in the kennel runs," said Jamie Gaebel, a volunteer with Mountain Rottie Rescue who helped clean out the yard. "We were throwing out tons of piles of garbage and things out of the kennel runs."

When officials cleaned out the yard, they discovered two of the animals had serious injuries: one Rottweiler had to have its leg amputated, and another lost an eye.

Investigators began monitoring Panetta March 6, when someone called 911. They gave her a chance to repair her home conditions because they had no other place to put the dogs, authorities said. But after investigating over the next several weeks, officials decided to move in.

Rescuers say Panetta was breeding the dogs to sell them, but did not have a kennel license. Fifteen to 20 dogs in immediate danger were removed Monday.

The rest are staying in Panetta's home until they are transported to a shelter belonging to an organization called Pets Alive, which has agreed to take the animals in. 

Panetta was arraigned and released on her own recognizance. She refused to speak to NBC 4 New York Monday evening.

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