Deputies seize nearly 50 malnourished dogs stacked on top of each other in Polk County home

Investigators initially went looking for drugs

AUBURNDALE, Fla. - Nearly 50 dogs are being nursed back to health Monday after deputies found them in cages stacked on top of one another, living in deplorable conditions in an Auburndale mobile home.

Polk County Sheriff's deputies discovered the dogs on Friday when responding to a tip about Bernice Walskey selling synthetic marijuana out of her home.

They found about 14 pounds of what's known as "K-2" or "spice," but perhaps even more alarming -- 47 dogs caged throughout the house.

Investigators say the dogs -- mostly dachshunds -- lived in their own urine and waste.  They were all emaciated.

Pictures taken by deputies show dogs in piles.  Another picture shows crates staked up to the ceiling with dogs in each one.

We showed the pictures to neighbors.

"Oh Lord!" said Chris Turlington, who lives a few doors down. "How do you sleep in a house like that?"

In fact, some neighbors told us Walskey did not sleep in the house because it was so nasty. Most nights they say she slept in her car.

"I didn't think they had no more than 10 or 12, because that's all I seen out in the yard," said Larry Waddle. "I can't imagine how you fit 47 dogs in one house. I don't see how you can stand the smell itself."

The sheriff's office said at one time Walskey, and her live-in boyfriend, Randall Huggins, bred mostly dachshunds, and some pit bulls.

They claimed to deputies that they stopped selling them about six months ago.

"My brother wanted to buy a couple dachshunds from her, but she wanted too much, and there weren't any papers or nothing," said Rusty Waddle, who also lives nearby.

Most of the neighbors only knew of roughly 10 dogs at the home.

It's unknown how long the couple had the dogs, but we do know animal control paid a visit to the home two other times in the last three years.

They found no evidence of abuse or neglect, unlike what they found on Friday.

"There was food in the house, but as to how often they were being fed, that's in question," said Donna Wood, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

Investigators believe this is a case of breeding hobby spiraling out of control. The couple could have contacted any number of rescue agencies who would have taken the dogs off their hands.

Both Walskey and Huggins face 40 counts of animal cruelty. Walskey faces additional charges for possession of K-2.

ABC Action News reached a family member, who lives on the same street, but they did not want to comment.

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