Nearly 200 dogs and cats were delivered to the Lawrence Humane Society on Wednesday and Thursday, all of them seized from a single residence in Miami County.
"We've taken in animals from the state before, but never 187 at once," said Director Midge Grinstead, who stayed up all Wednesday night with staffers processing 112 dogs and 75 cats into the society's shelter, which already held 720 other orphaned animals.
"It puts a lot of strain on the staff," Grinstead said Thursday afternoon. "We haven't been to bed yet - we've been here all night."
The animals came from a rural residence in southern Miami County, seized by the Kansas Animal Health Department. Officials with the department did not return calls Thursday, but Miami County Undersheriff Mark Schmidt said state workers executed a search warrant at the home at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Schmidt said it took 24 hours to remove all the animals from the site.
Under state law, any home or facility housing 20 or more cats or dogs is considered a "shelter" and must be licensed by the state, subject to inspections.
Larry Carter, a rural Paola resident who lived nearby, was grateful Thursday that the "huge doghouse" had been evacuated. Carter said his neighbor steadily accumulated animals during the 11 years he has lived there.
"It's been years since it's been this quiet out here," Carter told the Journal-World on Thursday. "I'm still in shock about how nice it is already. There's six dogs or so there, now, but they don't bark at me anymore. I can listen to the birds instead of the dogs."
There was plenty of noise at the Lawrence Humane Society shelter, though. Some of the animals were in rough shape, Grinstead said, with mange afflicting some of the dogs.
"One of the cats died right after it got there," she said. "We had another dog in real bad shape - most of the cats are sick, very ill."
Lawrence was chosen as the delivery point for the animals because the shelter here had space, officials said. Under state law, the woman has 10 days to post a bond to pay for care of the animals, if she intends to challenge the state's seizure of them.
Carter said he doesn't want to see the animals returned to the owner.
"I know she loves dogs -- and I do too. But you can't take care of that many by yourself," Carter said.
And he added: "I hope you keep all them dogs. I hope you keep them and do a better job."