PAHRUMP, Nev. (KLAS) — Nearly 200 dogs seized as part of a massive animal abuse investigation have died or were euthanized due to their condition, animal welfare advocates confirmed Tuesday to 8 News Now.
In August, Nye County sheriff’s deputies located some 300 dogs, some including frozen puppies, across two unlicensed facilities. Detectives found 257 dogs on a property in Amargosa Valley and an additional 25 animals in Pahrump, court documents said.
In addition, deputies found dozens of frozen puppies.
The majority of the dogs are Caucasian Shepherds, a large breed sold for security and protection.
Oskana Higgins and Vasili Platunov face felony animal abuse and neglect charges in connection with the case. A report noted the dogs’ owner, Platunov, lives in Pahrump, but maintained “a breeding operation” at the Amargosa Valley address. Higgins is identified in the documents as the caretaker at the property.
A judge ordered the county to turn the animals over to the ASPCA for continued medical care and behavioral assessments to prepare them for adoption.
“When the ASPCA stepped in at the request of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office in September, we provided daily care and medical and behavioral support for 276 dogs at the emergency shelter in Pahrump,” a spokesperson said. “ASPCA veterinarians conducted in-depth exams on the dogs and observed significant medical issues among the population that required urgent medical care.”
Out of the 276 animals, 171 were humanely euthanized due to medical or behavioral issues, the spokesperson said. Six animals died naturally.
The ASPCA transferred the majority of the dogs that could survive to a specialized recovery center in Ohio, using a 747 cargo plane. Sixteen others were placed with the Nevada Humane Society, with several of those animals already adopted, the spokesperson said.
“The ASPCA views every animal as an individual and each dog was continually monitored, assessed, and provided both medical and behavioral support by credentialed medical and behavior experts to help determine the most appropriate outcome and placement option,” the spokesperson said, “Sadly, due to severe medical and behavioral issues, six dogs passed away and the remaining dogs rescued from this case had to be humanely euthanized. As victims of alleged cruelty, horrific living conditions and likely irresponsible breeding practices, many dogs suffered from a wide array of serious medical conditions, severe aggression and/or extreme fear that made them unsafe to place or caused a poor quality of life.”
The 82 dogs brought to the Ohio facility continue to receive treatment due to medical and behavior issues.
“While there is still a long road ahead for these victimized dogs to heal and thrive, our hope is that many can be placed into new, loving homes in the future,” the spokesperson said.
Platunov’s attorney, Thomas Gibson, said in court this summer that his client was in the process of moving the dogs from Pahrump to Amargosa Valley.
You can read more about the ASPCA’s work with animal cruelty investigations by visiting aspca.org/fightcruelty.