A Kentucky woman convicted of animal cruelty is believed to have been eaten by her own hybrid wolf-dogs after she died.
Ohio County Sheriff’s office found only a skull and jawbone and as many as 50 husky mix dogs Saturday on a property outside Fordsville, KY belonging to 67-year-old Patricia Ritz, who had been reported missing by neighbours.
Investigators don’t suspect foul play, believing that Ritz fell ill and died. Police said many of the dogs appeared starved and ate her to survive.
Ritz had a long record of animal cruelty dating back to 1986, when she was sentenced to a year’s probation in an incident involving at least 50 dogs in Indiana. The following year she was found guilty of five counts of animal abuse and ordered not to transport dogs into the state.
Between then and 2003 she was charged with animal cruelty five more times.
In one 1999 incident she was charged with cruelty to animals for “depriving the dogs of adequate food, water, space and health care”. A local animal rescue group Adopt-a-Husky said 159 of the 184 dogs found on Ritz’s property were euthanized. She was permitted to keep 25 as long as she had them spayed or neutered, but the dog population on her property only grew.
“It’s very much an alternative lifestyle, but I don’t see what I’ve done wrong,” she told the Associated Press at the time, insisting that she did care for the dogs. “This is a Salem-style witch hunt.”
It was also reported that Ritz, who lived on a small inheritance, collected deer bones from a local processor to feed the dogs, which led to an additional charge of improper disposal of deer carcasses.
Ritz also sold hand painted deer skulls.
Twenty-seven of Ritz’s dogs, including two adult females and puppies between a few days old and a two months, are being treated at a veterinary hospital. Ohio County Animal Shelter has taken in 12 of the dogs. The other dogs are currently in foster care.
Some of the dogs are pregnant and expected to give birth any day.
Rescue workers say the dogs will be placed in sanctuaries and won’t be available for adoption.
None of the dogs will be euthanized.
If you would like to donate to Roby’s Hybrid Wolf Fund, you can call Wills Animal Hospital at (270)-684-3201.