UPDATE: Suspect charged with 70 counts of animal cruelty


Devecio Ranard Rowland

Polk County Police have arrested a man on animal cruelty charges Monday after a tip led to the discovery of 70 dogs in deplorable living conditions.

According to Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd, Devecio Ranard Rowland, a former resident of the 569 Cashtown Road address where the dogs were found, was arrested and charged with 70 counts of animal cruelty.

“It’s the worst case of animal cruelty we’ve ever seen,” Dodd said.

In a video posted to the Polk County Police Department’s Facebook page, Dodd himself describes that the dogs were chained to trees without shelter or access to food or water.

Rowland was previously arrested back in 2010 on similar charges, along with three other individuals in an alleged dog fighting ring.

At that time, 33 dogs were found on the property.

District Attorney Jack Browning told WGAA Radio that his office dismissed the 2010 cruelty case because the “necessary and material witness who brought forth the evidence had died.”

In the meantime, members of the community have stepped up to care for the dogs.

Local residents have brought dog food to the Cashtown Road location, and to the police department and animal control.

The Polk County Fire Department has been using its brush trucks to bring water to the dogs, since water had been disconnected from the abandoned home nearby.

Rowland’s former residence and surrounding property had fallen into foreclosure, and it appears the animals had been left there.

Dodd said the 70 counts of animal cruelty against Rowland are each individual felonies.

Rowland remains at the Polk County Jail at this time.