Former neighbor describes abuse she saw at Hampton home of 21 dead dogs

Posted at 3:38 PM, Mar 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-08 17:51:17-05

HAMPTON, Va. - News 3 is learning more about a man who frequented the home where police found 21 dogs were found deceased yesterday.

Neighbors told News 3 yesterday that they saw a man who would come and go from the house, but no one lived there.

A former neighbor, Michelle Vandran, who moved in October of 2016, said the man told her that he was doing repair work at the home for his Aunt and kept the dogs there for security.

One dog that was found in the home alive

She says she only saw him with two pit bulls.

"They were howling all hours of the night," she said to News 3 over the phone today. "He would punch them, pick them up by their throats and throw them, to me that's abuse."

Vandran says the man told her he was breeding dogs for his friend, and it didn't seem right.

"He put a brick on them and they'd pull it," she says. "I guess to build up their hind legs muscles, like they were doing fights."

Online property records show that the home belongs to a woman with a Philadelphia mailing address.

There is now a letter outside the Pochin Place property addressed to her, saying the structure is condemned due to "multiple deceased animals, animal waste matter and unsanitary conditions throughout the residence."

Hampton Police say they were called to the home for a welfare check just before 10:00 a.m. on Monday.

A contractor working in the area tells News 3 that he called because of the "smell of death" outside and excessive flies.

One dog was found alive and taken to the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter, according to the city of Newport News.

News 3 spoke to a neighbor who says she called Animal Control about two weeks prior reporting the same smell.

She also saw the man come and go from the home, but has not seen him with dogs for months.

Over the weekend, she says he was coming in and out of the house with a white mask on that people usually wear for painting, so she assumed that's what he was doing.

Founder of Blue Angels Advocacy and Rescue, a pit bull advocacy group, Regina Quinn, came back to the property today after spending all day watching Animal Control investigate.

There is now a small memorial outside the home with dog treats.

"Those treats could have been given to those dogs and they could be enjoying life and having a playful life," she says.

A former animal control officer, Misty Collins, works with her on many cases.

"The suffering happening in that home is haunting," says Collins.

The two hope that this sends a message to the community to speak up if they ever see or hear anything suspicious happening at a home, even if it seems minor.

"These dogs can't speak up they depend on us to make the right decision and pick up the phone."

Hampton Police would not comment on the man who frequented the property or a prior call to Animal Control due to the on-going investigation.

According to a city spokeswoman, the homeowner has 30 days to clean the house out and rectify the violations, which they can appeal this to the Building Code of Appeals.

If nothing happens in 30 days, the city checks the title to see if there are lien holders. If they can find one, they notify them about the violations and there is another 30-day clock.

If there aren’t, or after the lien holder has 30 days, the city places a public notice saying that demolition will occur on a certain date, and they notify utilities to cut off service.