Dalton Police said they found "dozens of animals in poor health suffering from apparent neglect and living in horrible conditions" at the home of an animal trainer who took his own life in Cleveland on Thursday.
Dalton Police said they "found the house in deplorable condition.
There were 16 dogs in the residence, along with two baby goats, two turtles, a snake, and in the back yard there were nine ducks. There was also a dead turtle and also several dead snakes. The animals were malnourished and living in filth, with the dogs all in kennels and many of them covered in their own waste."
Stephen Kinder, 42, shot himself after being charged with animal abuse in Cleveland, where he had a business. Friends said he was depressed over the charges and threats against him on social media.
Dalton Police said, "As part of an investigation into a report of animal cruelty, the Dalton Police Department served a search warrant at a residence at 810 Mattie St.on Thursday. Investigators found dozens of animals in poor health suffering from apparent neglect and living in horrible conditions. The animals were rescued from the home and were taken to be cared for.
"Last Sunday, a Dalton Police Department officer was dispatched to meet a complainant in the parking lot of the Red Lobster at 901 West Bridge. The complainant had agreed to meet there with Kinder to pick up her dog which she had sent to Kinder’s dog training business in Cleveland, Tennessee.
"When Kinder returned the dog to the complainant, the dog had lost a significant amount of weight and was vomiting. Kinder told the officer that the dog had lost weight because it had been exercising more than it was used to. Because the apparent neglect had taken place in Cleveland, Tennessee at the Kinder Dog Training business, the officer completed an information report and referred the complainant to authorities in Bradley County, Tennessee to investigate the case there. That investigation led to Bradley County authorities arresting Stephen Kinder and charging him with four counts of animal cruelty.
"The Dalton Police Department received information that some of the animals from the Tennessee business were being housed in Dalton. After investigating further, Dalton detectives obtained a search warrant for Kinder’s residence on Mattie Street. Investigators arrived at the residence and served the warrant at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Thursday."
Dalton Police said while they were at the Mattie Street residence, Dalton investigators "were contacted by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office who reported they had been contacted by one of Stephen Kinder’s friends who said that Kinder was making suicidal statements. Bradley County asked the DPD to perform a welfare check on Kinder. Dalton investigators on scene were able to make contact with Kinder by phone at approximately 12:10 p.m. Kinder denied being suicidal and told a Dalton detective that he was on his way back to Dalton and that he would meet with investigators at his residence. Dalton investigators at the scene were contacted again by Bradley County at approximately 1:30 and learned that Kinder had apparently killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot.
"A representative of the Whitfield County Animal Shelter responded to the Mattie Street scene to assist with rescuing the animals. The shelter coordinated with various animal rescue groups to find housing for the animals. They have all been safely placed with shelters or homes in Georgia.
"This case is still being investigated. At this time, the Dalton Police Department has not filed any charges against any individuals."