MANTUA, Ohio (WJW) – Investigators with the Portage County Animal Protective League in Ohio are still working to determine the cause of death of more than 140 dogs found dead in a home owned by the founder and president of an animal rescue.
Emergency crews responded to the home of Barbara Wible, the founder of Canine Lifeline, after she was found collapsed in her Parma home, the organization said in a written release. Wible was transported to a hospital.
A subsequent investigation found “overwhelming evidence of ongoing fatal animal neglect” at the home, as well as Wible’s other home in Mantua, the organization wrote. In the Mantua home, humane officers found “146 deceased dogs in varying stages of decay,” many of which were still locked in their crates, the Portage APL said.
“No volunteers were aware of any medical conditions that Wible had been diagnosed with prior to this most recent hospitalization, nor were any aware of the number of dogs she harbored, nor the condition of her home,” Canine Lifeline said in its release.
Nexstar’s WJW caught up with Wible in 2012 at an adoption event in Macedonia while recording a “hometown hero” news segment.
At the time, WJW was told the charity was bringing in dogs from as far away as southern Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, hoping to find them good homes. The charity said it has helped rescue more than 6,000 animals since it was founded in 2009.
The Portage APL on Tuesday did not comment on its investigation or answer any questions about whether or not there were ever any calls to Wible’s Mantua home.
Neighbors, however, said last summer a delivery driver brought his concerns to the attention of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.
WJW also learned that the APL may have removed dozens of dogs from the home last summer.
A neighbor said she has not seen anyone at the home since last October.
“It was very windy in the fall and so branches fell down over the driveway and I could tell they had been there and not crushed so I knew there was no traffic in or out,” said the neighbor who asked to be identified only as Mary Ellen.
In its statement, volunteers with the charity said Wible was a very private person and that they had never been to her homes in Parma or Mantua.
Why she had so many dogs at her private residence is still not known.
Surviving dogs found at Wible’s Parma home are being cared for at a local animal shelter, Canine Lifeline said.
A tax document filed with the IRS by Canine Lifeline in 2019, the last year for which there is a filing on behalf of the charity, shows revenues of more than $190,000, with expenses of more than $200,000 for an operating loss of more than $9,000.
As of Tuesday, the investigation remained active. No charges had yet been filed.