Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 23, 2012

Couple charged following rescue of over 30 dogs

CROSSVILLE — In what may be more of a hoarding issue than an animal cruelty issue, between 31 and 36 dogs were rescued from a residence in a rural Cumberland County subdivision and a local couple face charges in connection with the action taken Tuesday.

Thomas Allen Uchityl, 48, and Marcie Lynne Uchytil, 41, who listed a 1181 Gray Fox Dr. address in Wyndridge subdivision off Plateau Rd., are both charged with one count of cruelty to animals and resisting arrest. In addition, Thomas Uchityl faces a theft of property charge relating to the recovery of a Cumberland County street sign and a concrete saw that had previously been reported stolen.

Both were placed under bond and have since been released.

The investigation into the condition of the dogs came to the attention of the Cumberland County Animal Control department and later involved the Tennessee Division of Animal Control, District Attorney's Office and Cumberland County Sheriff's Department.

On Tuesday, about half a dozen workers with the Humane Society of the United States' Tennessee division out of the Nashville met with other animal care persons and, accompanied by law enforcement officers, traveled to the wooded lot and started assessing the condition of the dogs, giving them medical care including shots and ear and eye drops, and crating them for transfer to safe locations.

When responders arrived on scene, they found 14 large and medium mix-breed dogs kept chained to trees around the property without adequate shelter and 19 chihuahuas living in small crates inside a shed without ventilation, running water or electricity. Some of the dogs are very thin and have severe skin conditions, infections, and other medical conditions such as tick-borne disease, according to the HSUS.

“The conditions in which these dogs were living are the definition of animal cruelty,” said Leighann McCullum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Tennessee Division of Animal Welfare for the critical work they do for animals, and thanks the Cumberland County officials and all of the rescue groups who stepped in to help give these animals a better life.”

Reportedly, officials worked with Thomas Uchityl and reached an agreement that he would be allowed to keep one chihuahua dog, while officials removed the rest of the dogs.

The dogs have been removed from the property and will be taken to several of The HSUS’ emergency placement partners in the state. Happy Tales Humane, McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, A.A.R.F. (All About Rescue and Fixin’ Inc.), and Nashville Humane Association will each take a number of dogs. The shelters will evaluate the dogs, address their medical and health needs, and place them up for adoption.

A two-year-old white dog pictured chained to a tree in Wednesday's edition, which at first was thought to be suffering from mange, was suffering a serious bacterial skin infection.

Crossville's All About Rescue and Fixin' Inc. (AARF), Happy Tales Humane in Franklin, McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center in Chattanooga and the Nashville Humane Association are sharing care of the dogs that were seized. Seven of the dogs were taken to AARF.

Persons interested in helping with the care of the dogs, or wanting information about adopting one, can contact the above listed agencies.

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