GPD investigates animal hoarding and abuse

Shayne Mazur

A Friday evening call brought Greybull police to a property in the Heights where they uncovered a dangerous and unhygienic animal hoarding situation that required several dogs to be put down.

The situation was brought to light by family of Marvin Harp, who owns the Windy Run residence alongside his wife, Patty.

“I received a call a week prior from some family members of an elderly gentleman who had been living there with his wife, and they said they were concerned for his safety because supposedly, there were dogs in the basement that were vicious,” said Chief Bill Brenner. “They hadn’t confirmed this, but that was what the elderly gentleman was telling them.”

Marvin’s family arrived Sept. 30 from Sheridan with the intent of removing him from the premises. 

Around 5:30 p.m., they contacted police about several aggressive dogs on the property. Officers arrived on scene soon after where they learned that Harp’s step-daughter kept several neglected dogs in the basement.

“They (officers) couldn’t access the home because of the vicious dogs,” Brenner said. “And there was one dog outside the residence that would not let them into the basement, so he’s one of them that had to be dispatched by an officer so they could actually open the door to the basement to see what they had.”

What they found were pack-like, disease-ridden dogs living in squalid conditions.

Brenner described the scene as horrific. “We found out there were 14 dogs in this basement, and they had been living in this basement for a year, from the information we received. And they were supposedly vicious, disease-ridden, which, some of the dogs unfortunately had to be put down by officers because they were trying to attack the officers and the people there.

“You’ve got standing water in the basement, you’ve got that mixed with a year’s worth of dog feces. It’s horrible. People can’t even go in without wearing a hazmat suit.

“These animals shouldn’t have gone through that.”

Officers reached out to consult with local veterinarians about the dogs. When local vets couldn’t be reached, they contacted Cody Veterinary Hospital staff who drove the hour-long stretch to evaluate the situation.

“The veterinarian recommended euthanization for all of the animals except for a few that were living upstairs. They felt they were too far gone that they could not be rehomed given the lifestyle they had been living for the past year.”

Three dogs were dispatched by officers, seven were humanely euthanized by veterinarians and the remaining four were rehomed with a Basin resident.

“This was one of the most horrific animal abuse cases that we, that I, have seen in this town since I’ve been here in 21 years,” said Brenner. “The female who was in charge of these animals and who had lived at the residence is going to face multiple charges.”

As of Tuesday, police are still working to locate the female responsible for the dogs and their conditions.

Brenner also stated that Marvin and Patty Harp are not facing charges. The Harps have vacated the property and have a few days to decide how they want to proceed. If they choose not to take action, police will move to declare the house a health risk.

“We are going to have people look at this home. It is contaminated and is a public safety health issue, and I’m guessing it’s probably going to have to be destroyed, but I’m not sure at this point,” said Brenner.

The negligence at the Harp residence is an extreme example of the increasing number of calls about lost, roaming, mistreated and aggressive animals the police have received in recent weeks, according to Brenner.