Eighty matted, dirty and malnourished cats and dogs were rescued Thursday from a Gilbert home.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control officers called police about 2 p.m. when they saw Ronald Nichols, 65, pick up a dog by the throat and carry it into his house at 249 S. Lindsay Road, said Gilbert police Sgt. Jeff Esslinger.
When officers arrived, they found dozens of dogs and cats wandering between Nichols' home and a storage building, Esslinger said. They also found one dead kitten.
“I stepped into the house and right back out,” Esslinger said. “The aroma was . . . not for me.”
As officers from the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control began placing the animals inside six air-conditioned trucks, officers called the Gilbert Fire Department.
“(Nichols) expressed suicidal tendencies, and so he's being committed for a medical evaluation,” Esslinger said.
Julie Bank, spokeswoman for animal control, said 35 dogs and 45 purebred Persian cats were seized. In addition to malnourishment and matted, dirty fur, many of the animals suffered from ear infections, genetic defects, heat exhaustion and poor teeth.
“At this point, none of them will need immediate euthanasia,” but they will continue to be monitored by veterinarians, Bank said. Animal control officers have been working with Nichols since February to improve conditions at the home, Bank said. Nichols had asked for a kennel permit — which would allow him to obtain one license for all of his household pets — but was turned down.
Nichols could face one count of animal cruelty for every animal seized, Esslinger said.
Should Nichols sign away his rights to the animals, they could be placed up for adoption, Bank said.