Who, age What Where When Last known address
Kenneth Lang, Jr., 56 112 chihuahua's seized, another 150 found dead

Dearborn, MI

Wayne County

July 22, 2009  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date
Felony   262 chihuahua's Alleged October 5, 2009

Kenneth Lang Jr., whose Dearborn home authorities say contained more than 100 living and 150 dead dogs, could face animal cruelty charges.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said the case could be forwarded to prosecutors for animal cruelty charges.

Lang's attorney, James G. Schmier, said the 56-year-old suffered a mental impairment stemming from a childhood viral disease, rubella.  "I think this is a very human story of a guy who had some very severe mental issues," Schmier said. He said he thinks Lang was doing his best to care for the dogs but, given his mental condition, "failed miserably."

Lang is currently in a hospital being treated for a psychiatric disorder.

Schmier stated that Lang was known for washing his hands obsessively as as a child and using tissues and handkerchiefs as doorknobs, signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

Lang's house was also filled with more than 20 TVs and refrigerators, according to WJR.

Schmier argued that Lang needs continued treatment and shouldn't be prosecuted criminally.  "That would be us treating humans worse than we treat animals," he said.

Neighbors seemed to like Lang. Neighbor Al Burday stated that Lang was a "decent guy."  "He wouldn't hurt a fly. He cared about people and animals," he said.

  (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press) 

Kenneth Lang Jr. is on social security, obsessed with Chihuahuas and flat broke.

That combination led to the scene where authorities removed more than 100 living Chihuahuas from Lang's Orchard Avenue home, as well as more than 150 frozen dead dogs wrapped in plastic.

Reports say Lang filed for bankruptcy in 2006, listing $73,663 in debts and requesting he be allowed to hold on to "three dogs" valued at $25.

Lang also disclosed a $25 a month expense for pet care, which he listed as "regular expenses from the operation of business, profession, or farm."

In 2006, Lang was making $664 a month from unemployment benefits and $860 from Social Security disability payments.

Update 7/24/09:  In the third day of a rescue of dozens of dogs from a Dearborn home, police have found more than 150 dead dogs across the home, many in freezers, refrigerators and plastic bags.

  (Photo courtesy of David Runk/The Associated Press)

Neighbors began to complain of a stench coming from the home, which was well-kept on the outside. Inside, however, officials found trash piled high and feces and urine covering the floors. Officials had to use masks to breathe.

Forty-two ailing and feces-covered dogs were rescued on day one. Crews returned the next day and found more than 60 dogs.

  (Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)  The man living in the house was taken to a local hospital for observation. His family, which lives in Florida, was cooperating with officials. Investigators have said he apparently was hoarding the dogs.

As authorities searched the home, area residents brought pet food donations and filled out adoption applications at the Dearborn Animal Shelter, which was housing the rescued dogs.

Margaret Metas dropped off four 20-pound bags of dog food at the shelter. She has two dogs at her Dearborn Heights home and said she didn't want to see any of the rescued dogs for fear she would want to keep one.

"It's not much. It's only four bags, but it will feed them today," the 81-year-old said. "I couldn't handle the 40-pound bags. I couldn't get them off of the shelf and into the cart. ... They're just too heavy."

Shelter volunteers told people interested in adopting the dogs it would be about a week before they could go to homes. The group Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter was accepting donations on its Web site to help.

"This is a good opportunity to do something good," said 32-year-old Max Isrow of Roseville, who hoped to adopt one of the dogs.

Neighbors in the past had complained of an odor at the two-story home, which had a neatly cut lawn and manicured bushes. But this week was the first time Dearborn officials got inside, and crews needed masks to breathe.

Trash was piled from floor to ceiling in places, and feces and urine was throughout the home. Forty-two ailing and feces-covered dogs were rescued Wednesday. Crews returned Thursday and found more than 60 dogs.

The smell, noticeable from the street may have been contained previously because windows were closed and covered.

Update 7/28/09:  Elaine Greene, executive director of the Dearborn Animal Shelter, says the situation involving 112 Chihuahuas rescued from a man's home is the worst she's ever seen.

City officials stated that all 112 rescued Chihuahuas seem to be in adoptable condition, but Greene expects many of the dogs will require special care from those who adopt them.

"This is not just a Chihuahua," she said. "These are dogs that are going to need, some of them, intensive socialization and care. It's going to be a lot of work to help bring them around. Some of them may not ever be the friendly little Chihuahua that's going sit on your lap and greet you at the door. They may have lifelong issues."

Lang still has legal rights to the dogs, but his lawyer said doesn't expect the dogs will be returned to his client.

City spokesman Mary Laundroche said the city hopes to sort out the legal situation "sooner rather than later" so people can start adopting the dogs.

Meanwhile  It was love, not abuse, that prompted a man to hoard 262 dogs -- 150 of them bagged and frozen in freezers -- in his modest house just outside Detroit, his attorney said.

Dearborn police expect by the end of this week to complete a criminal investigation after stumbling onto the dogs in his home, which was filled with feces, fleas and trash.

The 56-year-old Lang lived alone in the home with the dogs, mostly Chihuahuas. Police described Lang as disoriented when they removed him from the house.

"He's very concerned about these animals," Schmier told the press. "As he said, they're his family. He still owns these dogs and is willing to sign off on their adoption. He wants them to have good homes."

Authorities, who found the dogs after a neighbor complained of the smell, said the number of animals may have been growing for several years.

The 112 live dogs, were taken over several days from the house and placed in the care of the Dearborn Animal Shelter. Most will be available for adoption, the city said in a release.

Legal issues involving Lang's house and his property are being resolved with his family, the city said in a statement.

"The City is continuing to remove materials from the house as necessary to ensure that there are no additional dogs inside," according to the statement.

The removal work is being performed by crews wearing breathing gear and protective clothing.

Authorities have said the house is a health hazard and uninhabitable, and are looking into whether it should be demolished.

Lang lives on a fixed income and has no health insurance, Schmier said.  "He doesn't have a lot of resources," said Schmier, who added that Lang's family, which lives in Florida, can't afford to have the house cleaned or rebuilt.

Update 8/15/09:  Police raided 14 storage lockers belonging Lang.  The search of the lockers at the Secured Self Storage facility on Gulley in Dearborn Heights yielded more than 100 televisions, at least four lawnmowers, humidifiers, about 100 obsolete computers and 8-track tape machines, but no remains of animals, said James Schmier, a Birmingham criminal attorney representing James Lang.

Dearborn police secured search warrants before the raid, which took about four and a half hours. The storage units ranged from the larger 8 foot-by-8 foot units to smaller units about 3 feet by 6 feet, Schmier said.

Update 9/3/09:  Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Kenneth Lang Jr. with two charges of cruelty to 10 or more animals, according to the Detroit Free Press.

One charge is for the 100-plus chihuahuas found living in his Dearborn home.

The other is for the 150-plus dead dogs he kept in freezers.

Police raided Lang's home in July after a neighbor alerted animal control of an unrelated situation involving a cat.

In addition to the dogs, authorities discovered Lang's house was littered with several refrigerators and computers, piles of clothes, garbage, debris and feces.

At the time, Lang was taken to a hospital for observation and is currently living in a group home in Oakland County.

His lawyer earlier suggested Lang may suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder and said it was love, not abuse, that prompted his client to hoard the dogs.

Since the discovery, the city has deemed Lang's home unfit for human habitation, and a hearing officer recently recommended the house be demolished.

Update 9/4/09:  Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges yesterday, providing additional details of the shocking conditions:

• Some dogs were kept in tupperware-type containers without food or water.

• Some of the dead dogs appeared to have been euthanized via an injection to the heart

• Many of the living dogs were emaciated from poor nutrition

• The last known veterinary check for any of the dogs was 2003

Update 9/11/09:  A judge ordered a mental competency hearing for Lang.

Authorities say some of the dead dogs found in freezers in the home may have been killed with an injection to the heart or partially eaten by other dogs.

Judge William Hultgen of the 19th District Court ordered a Oct. 5 hearing for Lang at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

Lang's attorney told the Detroit News his client will be evaluated for both mental competency and for criminal responsibility.

Lang is currently living in a Oakland County group home where he's receiving treatment for obsessive compulsive and hoarding behavior.

He's charged with two counts of cruelty to 10 or more animals. If convicted, he faces probation to up to four years in prison on each felony count.

Reference:

The Associated Press

Michigan Live

The Detroit News