WAYNESBORO, GA. (WFXG) - Steve Schloss lives on several acres near this quiet stretch of Rackley Road, where just months ago deputies discovered nine animals living in filth and without food.
“I’ve had a dog almost all my life and they’re like family, always have been famiy and we take care of them and when I hear about people that don’t take care of them, it’s troublesome for sure,” Schloss said.
Back in November a welfare check brought deputies to Martha Falaro’s unlocked door. The dogs were removed from the home and taken to a vet.
Dr. Sarah Ford diagnosed all the dogs with starvation, parasitism, various degrees of dehydration, and some suffering from emaciation. One puppy had an old injury to his left eye and it was recommended that it be removed due to severe damage. Another puppy had a punctured hind leg that became infected and needed immediate treatment. According to Dr. Ford, a number of the dogs were stunted in their growth due to their poor treatment by the owner, according to Burke County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard.
"If you can't afford to take care of what you have, don't have them. You're putting the animals in a position that they don't need to be in."
On March 14th, after four hours of deliberation, a jury found Falaro guilty and she was convicted on 7 counts of cruelty to animals. Judge Jackson Cox sentenced her to 200 hours of community service at animal welfare, 12 months of probation for each count to run consecutive (totaling 7 years of probation), and nearly $20,000 total fines and restitution.
Schloss said he doesn’t think the county will get that money - but he’s glad there’s justice.
“If you had people that are going to mistreat animals, it’s a good likely they’re going to mistreat people, too.”
Those animals are recovering in the care of the county for now. The dogs will be transferred to the Northeast Animal Shelter of Salem, MA where they will be well taken care of until they are adopted.
The Burke county commission approved funding for a new animal control shelter recently approved a new Animal Control Ordinance that will take effect in April.