By Liz Shepherd
SILVER LAKE — A Silver Lake man is facing two criminal charges after 56 dogs were removed from his home in March.
Gary McGillem, 64, 505 W. Hilltop Lane, Silver Lake, is charged with cruelty to an animal, a class A misdemeanor; and harboring a non-immunized dog, a class B misdemeanor.
On March 23, the Silver Lake Fire Department went to McGillem’s residence for a fire. On March 24, a Silver Lake police officer received a text message with pictures of the residence’s interior from the Silver Lake fire chief. The pictures were also sent to the Kosciusko County Health Department.
According to court documents, the fire chief said the owner had about 20 to 30 dogs and that it appeared the dogs did not go outside to relieve themselves.
On April 6, the fire department was again dispatched to the residence for another fire. During the incident, McGillem was taken to Kosciusko Community Hospital for an unknown issue. A search warrant was issued on April 7 and the Animal Welfare League was contacted to help remove the dogs from the residence. Soon afterward, Silver Lake police, Silver Lake firefighters and AWL volunteers removed 56 dogs from the residence. The dogs were then taken to the AWL.
A Silver Lake officer advised that the residence was unsanitary because there was fecal matter from the dogs throughout the home. One officer was also bitten by a dog when his bite glove slipped off.
The AWL had a veterinarian look at each dog and examine them. According to the vet’s report, the dogs were found to be in generally good overall health with the exception of demodectic mange. Some were also found to have periodontal disease and/or flea allergy dermatitis, and/or secondary yeast and bacterial infections, which are common in animals with mange.
Currently, there is no ordinance in Silver Lake limiting the number of dogs a person can own.