UPDATE JULY 31: Owner charged after 35 dogs, 34 alive and 1 dead, found in MC home

Photos and information provided by MCPD

Marthinsen (LaPorte County Jail photo)

UPDATE JULY 31: One of the dogs’ owners — Terry Marthinsen, 67 — has been charged with 35 counts of Animal Neglect, Class A misdemeanors. 

“We would like to publicly thank the numerous citizens who have come forward with donations and expressions of compassion for all of the dogs involved,” police said.


Original July 30 information:

Michigan City authorities removed 35 dogs — 34 alive and 1 dead — from a Woodland Avenue home July 27, 2018. The dogs’ owner was also found to be in poor condition and was taken to the hospital.

Neighbors had told police that they smelled a stench and heard much barking from the house in the 200 block of South Woodland. The first estimate by neighbors was about 8 dogs. City code allows Michigan City residents a maximum of 3 dogs.  

Authorities tried to make contact with the female resident, but she would only talk through the door or window. She admitted to not having any city licenses or rabies tags for the animals. Authorities issued 8 city violations for neglect of an animal, but the homeowner would not sign the tickets.

On July 27, 2018, the LaPorte County Adult Protective Services Unit notified Michigan City Police that the home’s resident was found on the back porch and taken to the hospital. At the hospital it was discovered that she was covered in urine, feces, maggots and lice. Her condition was listed as serious.

After obtaining a search warrant, authorities found 35 various-sized dogs, 34 and 1 dead, in the house. Veterinarian Dr. Rex Bailey found that most of the 34 could not stand or walk. All animals were counted, tagged and removed to various on-site cages, then transferred to medical facilities and shelters.

Lt. Tim Richardson and his staff from the LaPorte County HIDTA Drug Enforcement Unit responded and donned Hazmat suits and breathing apparatus gear to enter the house. Immediately, due to the stench, risk of fleas, and other associated diseases, the assistance of the Michigan City Fire Department was requested and Chief Randall Novak and crew arrived to supply additional breathing apparatus gear for all officers entering the house.  

Due to the large number of animals and the fact that they were all infested with fleas and feces infections, the LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter and Michiana Humane Society also responded to the home to help remove, isolate and access each animal as they were taken from the residence.

Police report that the homeowner has agreed to sign off ownership of the dogs. They will be treated and, if they recover, be put up for adoption.

MCPD Chief Mark Swistek applauded the collaborated efforts of Doctor Rex Bailey, as not only did he come to the house with another doctor and staff, he also closed his business to give each recovered animal immediate medical attention. Additionally, the LaPorte County Adult Protective Services staff, LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter and Michiana Humane Society, LaPorte County Health Department, Animal Control officers, and citizen volunteer groups all assisted.

10 Responses to “UPDATE JULY 31: Owner charged after 35 dogs, 34 alive and 1 dead, found in MC home”

  1. lawman

    Jul 31. 2018

    now lets make the charges stick for once!!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Court Watcher

      Jul 31. 2018

      Lawman ….. misdemeanors rarely carry jail time even when you sensationally stack 35 of them together. Maximum penalty is one year incarcerated and that one year cannot be spent in prison. No misdemeanants go to prison. Sad, nasty, dirty case for the poor animals and this 67 year old man who is now publicly humiliated with his scarlet A. Seems like more of a mental health issue than anything else. NO rational person would engage in this behavior. Institutionalized revenge for this type of behavior seems excessive. But the Judge, the prosecutor and the defense has to work within the system we have ….

      Reply to this comment
  2. lawman

    Jul 31. 2018

    court watcher-all I asked for was that they make the charges stick!! I now the laws. I wasn’t asking for the death penalty!

    Reply to this comment
    • Art C. Doyle

      Jul 31. 2018

      “lawman”… methinks that CW was making the point that this is a mental health issue. I was shocked and saddened to read the initial story and my first thought was jail time however jail is no place for the mentally ill.

      Obviously we are only seeing a portion of the facts here… if the investigation reveals that they are truly abusive to the animals, sit’em in jail for six months. If mental health is the cause, get them the help they need.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Kate

    Aug 01. 2018

    Another article from WSBT states that the dogs did not appear to be “overly skinny.” The man was apparently feeding them, just unable to care properly for them otherwise. He may have been in need of medical or mental health care himself and was not receiving it. A sad situation all the way around.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Left LaPorte

    Aug 01. 2018

    What is difficult to understand is why didn’t the neighbors know something was wrong from the noise level of that many barking dogs? Kudos to those who helped those poor dogs and their efforts to find good homes for the ones that survive!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Cindy

    Aug 01. 2018

    Lawman… there is an underlying issue here. And hopefully our APS will be invilved along with local authorities to get a medical and mental evaluation. Before you go wishing bad on others, esp an elderly person, remember you and your parents will be old aomeday too. As a nurse, i would bet a dollar to a dime there is some kind of dementia going on here that was the cause of all this. Be careful what you wish on others.. “lawman”

    Reply to this comment
  6. HVAC GUY

    Aug 01. 2018

    Kudos to Dr Rex Bailey and Michigan City Animal Hospital. He is an excellent Vet and a very nice person on top of that. He truly cares about the animals in his care.

    Reply to this comment
  7. lawman

    Aug 01. 2018

    sorry cindy-i am older that the guy in the pic!! all I wish for is the law to be applied. you do-gooders always want to give everyone breaks-until something happens to YOU!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Gorgeous Jim

    Aug 01. 2018

    This is simply a case of animal hoarding, I’ve seen many cases of this on the Animal Planet Channel. Its a case of people who really cannot take proper care of themselves, take on a very amount of dogs or cats with good intentions of rescuing them and also providing a home for them. They then become completely overwhelmed and this is the end result. The animals are actually worse off than they would be if they were strays. These people have a mental condition to be doing this and they do need help.

    Reply to this comment

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