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Couple to face 19 counts of cruelty to animals; nine dogs deceased following starvation, 10 rescued

Heidi L. Holland and Tracy Toller, of Williford will face 19 counts each of cruelty to animals following the discovery of multiple dogs which had been left for an extended period of time without water or food, left to die.

Holland and Toller were renting a home in Williford with 19 dogs located at the residence, however; despite renting the home, the couple relocated just blocks away and left the animals inside the home and in an enclosure in the yard.

On Aug. 22, Deputy Marc Boyd with the Sharp County Sheriff’s Department received a call from the property owner at a residence in Williford requesting a welfare check as they had not heard from the renters.

The caller requested the check as she had been told there were two dogs deceased still inside the home.

Neighbours of the home spoke with HallmarkTimes and stated they could smell a foul odor coming from the residence and were also concerned.

The individuals also stated Toller had commented on more than one occasion there was a deceased dog which needed to be buried. The man allegedly claimed one or two dogs had been shot following a break-in.

When Boyd arrived on scene, the property had not been maintained and after looking in a window, he spotted the bodies of two emaciated/bloated deceased dogs and could hear barking.

There was no evidence of an attempt at burglary as the home was secured and all entries locked.

Boyd then broke a small window to unlock the door at which time he was overcome by the smell of ammonia.

The temperature inside the residence was 100 degrees and no windows were open and no alternative form of exit such as a dog door was available.

Upon entering the residence, Boyd discovered multiple bodies of dogs as well as some emaciated dogs who had survived by eating the corpses of the deceased dogs.

Boyd then came to a room in the home which was padlocked, however; he could hear a cat meowing.

He then kicked the door in to allow the cat to be free.

It was apparent the dogs through out the house had died in intervals.

There were three small dogs emaciated, malnourished and dehydrated still alive in the home.

An additional seven dogs were discovered in the back yard alive but deprived of food or water.

After contacting a local rescue shelter, Boyd received assistance from the Small Animal Foster and Support organization (soon to be renamed 4 the Love of Paws) which helped him search the home thoroughly for any living animals.

All animals still alive were transported to the rescue to receive treatment.

“The owners of the dogs only lived a couple blocks away at the time and knowingly allowed the abuse to happen,” the report said.

According to Third District Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Cooper, the parties responsible will be held accountable.

“We will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law,” Cooper said.

If you would like to support the recovery of the animals which have been rescued, please contact Sarah Malo, found of Small Animal Foster and Support by calling 870-955-0185.

According to neighbours residing in Williford, neither Holland nor Toller have returned to the home since the discovery of the corpses of the animals.

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Lauren Siebert
Lauren Siebert
Lauren is a an award-winning journalist who decided after 10 years of newspaper experience to venture out. Hallmark Times was born.
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