Judge denies request for diversion in companion animal case

A judge denied a request for diversion Wednesday for a Tiffin man who had 17 dogs confiscated from his residence.

Orville N. Alabaugh, 72, was charged with depriving a companion animal of necessary sustenance or confining the companion animal without supplying it during the confinement with sufficient quantities of good wholesome food and water, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The charge follows execution of a search warrant at 175 N. Sandusky St., Tiffin, the residence of Orville Alabaugh and Debbra Alabaugh. According to court records, officers discovered 17 puppies in several small cages in the dining room.

A separate search warrant had been executed by state and Wyandot County agencies at 5046 SR 53, Upper Sandusky, a facility owned by Orville Alabaugh and Debbra Alabaugh.

Officials found 150 dogs, with one being deceased. The other 149 were removed and placed with Wyandot County Humane Society.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court Judge Mark Repp said diversion is designed to be a “break” in which people admit the mistake, and he shared two concerns – the magnitude of the situation and fairness – about granting diversion.

Repp denied the request for diversion.

Two therapy dogs seized — a Shih Tzu named Pipsqueak and a Papillon named Beauty – already had been allowed to be released to Orville Alabaugh.

Repp said he released companion animals because there was a letter and prescription from a physician requesting the release.

Richard Palau, assistant Seneca County Prosecutor, had filed a memorandum in support of diversion in Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court.

During Wednesday’s hearing, he said he believed Alabaugh qualified for diversion. Alabaugh is 72 years old and has no previous convictions, he said.

Kelle Saull, Orville Alabaugh’s attorney, said Orville Alabaugh led a completely law-abiding life.

Orville Alabaugh is an educated man who owns a home, has been in the same area for many years and has been married for his wife for 20 years, she said.

Saull said he had been in the breeding and grooming business for 30 years with no issues, and she thought it had come to a time when he no longer was going to be in business.

She said her clients have been “put through the ringer” in their life since the case happened. They received a message Tuesday night that someone was going to burn down their home, she said.

“My clients have received death threats. … Their lives have been turned upside down,” she said.

Saull said there had been no charges stemming from the case in Wyandot County in which 149 dogs were seized, and the deceased dog had died of old age. Orville Alabaugh surrendered the dogs as part of that process, she said.

After Wednesday’s hearing in Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court, Saull said the defense is seeking dismissal.