HICKORY – More than 30 dogs were discovered in a Hickory building Wednesday morning and were severely malnourished and freezing while temperatures crept into the 20s.

Hickory Police Department officers responded to a suspicious vehicle call in the 500 block of Seventh Street Place SW, and upon arriving, HPD Sgt. Ericka Heath said the officers encountered the owner of the dogs.

Heath said the owner had one of the dogs in his vehicle, and there were multiple dogs inside the building.

One suspect is in custody with charges pending. His name has not yet been released.

“At this point, we could clearly see these dogs were emaciated, and did not have any means visible to us of food or water,” Heath said. “There’s very bare minimum heat (in the building), which doesn’t meet fire code.”

Both Hickory and Catawba County Animal Control were on the scene in order to secure and transport 30 dogs discovered alive within the building; three dogs had died.

Heath estimated there were 12 adult females, and the rest were puppies.

Pending the investigation, the dogs will be transported to the Catawba County animal shelter to be checked out and undergo a vetting process.

“I’m sure they’ll have to be held for now because they are unfortunately considered evidence,” Heath said.

Upon undergoing the vetting process and investigation, Heath said the dogs would be eligible for adoption.

“I’m hoping that they will find forever homes; that’s the goal,” Heath said.

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Max Seng is the crime reporter for the Hickory Daily Record. ​

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