ROANE DOG "SHELTER" RE-LOCATING TO CALHOUN? - 86 Dogs Discovered In Feces Ridden Buildings Last Year

By Bob Weaver

A Roane County woman who was in court last year for harboring about 86 dogs in a feces laden house and building, could be re-locating her animal rescue operation to Calhoun County.

Helen Franklin, 71, of Speed has reportedly purchased property on Deadening Run in a remote area off State Rt. 5 at Cabot Station.

She has relocated a large building previously used to shelter dogs on the property.

Last year, Franklin was charged with six counts of cruelty to animals. Those charges have since been dropped.

Calhoun's animal control officer Bob Groves said he was keeping "A serious eye on the situation," indicating he was going to make sure the alleged shelter was licensed, approved and meets all health standards.

Groves said the building's location currently does not have electric, sewage facilities or available water.

"After what happened in Roane County, we will make every effort not to allow problems to happen here," said Groves.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed complaints with Roane County prosecuting attorney Mark Sergent, saying "six dogs were reportedly languishing inside her filthy, feces-strewn home."

"An additional 80 dogs suffering from neglect were also reportedly rescued from the home, where the decaying remains of others had been found," they wrote.

PETA said "The survivors (dogs) were apparently covered in parasites and many were allegedly kept chained to cinder blocks and deprived of water or were crammed inside a sweltering metal barn."

That metal barn appears to be the structure moved to Calhoun.

PETA suggested to Roane's prosecutor that Franklin may be an "animal hoarder" — someone who obsessively accumulates animals.

PETA requested that, if convicted, she be prohibited from owning or harboring animals and be required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by counseling.

According to news sources published at the time, feces were piled as high as one foot deep inside the premises and dogs were tethered outside on short chains without access to water.

Last year was not the first time Franklin had problems.

Following an unannounced inspection by the Roane County Sheriff in 1994, Franklin was ordered to restrict the number of animals.

Reports at that time said, "The entire shelter smells like 50 dogs worth of feces and urine."

Bill and Helen Franklin, owners of the West Virginia Volunteer Services for Animals Sanctuary, reportedly said in 1994 that at least the animals were alive.

Roane County officials seized a number of the 86 dogs from the Franklin property in 2006, with the problem going to court.

The court then decided to return 20 dogs to Franklin, with frequent inspections of the facility ordered by the judge.

The animal abuse story was among the Top 10 Stories of 2006 listed in Spencer Newspapers, and was frequently covered by regional TV and newspapers.

Helen Franklin did not respond to several calls for comment on this article.