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Kennel owners charged with 21 counts of cruelty after dogs found in cages in their own feces

Dogs seized by police earlier this month
Posted: 6:16 PM, Jul 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-24 22:16:32Z

The owners of 21 dogs seized by Lorain Police earlier this month now face 21 counts of animal cruelty each. 

Lauren Souris and Cornelius Charlton both pleaded not guilty to the charges in Lorain Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Investigators said someone passing by an old dry cleaning business on E. 28th Street heard barking and smelled animal waste coming from inside and called police.

Officers said they found 20 Cane Corsos and one Brazilian Mastiff kept in cages and dog carriers inside the building. They estimate each dog weighed at least 70 pounds.

"Deplorable," is how Denise Willis, Chief Humane Officer for the Lorain County Animal Protective League, described the conditions inside. 

"It was hot, the dogs were in cages. They were in their own feces. They were in their own urine," she testified. "Flies were all over. The heat was overwhelming. The stench burned your throat, burned your eyes. Not good."

Investigators said the building did not have air conditioning, and there was hardly any air movement inside. They said many of the dogs had fleas and eye infections, and at least one had an ear infection.  

Police said the dogs appeared to have been fed, and there were water dishes, although an officer testified there was algae-like growth in the bowls. 

Souris and Charlton both refused to answer questions as they walked out of court. Investigators said Charlton told them he moved the dogs to the city in an "emergency-type situation."

"He said they had a nice place out in rural area, but they suddenly lost it because they were, as I believe he put it, screwed over by I guess the landlord," Lorain Police Officer Richard Broz said.

Police said Souris and Charlton ran Kevlar Kennels, but did not have a permit for the business.

The judge ruled the dogs will stay with the APL for now.

Lorain Municipal Court records showed Charlton was also charged with cruelty to animals in October 2007, but those charges were dropped after a witness failed to appear at trial.