A Gray woman who sought to retrieve from state custody 80 dogs and two cats that lived in the small home she shared with her elderly mother won’t get the animals back, a judge ruled late Friday.

The dogs were seized from Anita McBride on Jan. 22 after state animal welfare officials determined she hadn’t made sufficient progress in providing enough space and proper care for the animals. The dogs were sent to shelters and will soon be available for adoption.

McBride is charged with cruelty to animals and endangering the welfare of a dependent person. She will face trial on those charges this spring, but in the meantime she sought to have the dogs released back to her.

State officials said the dogs, including puppies and pregnant dogs, were kept in cramped conditions, with multiple dogs in crates that were stacked on top of each other. They also said there were feces on the floor, the level of ammonium from dog urine in the house was nearly strong enough to require animal welfare workers to put on gas masks, and the overwhelming majority of the dogs had worms and other physical problems.

A dog-by-dog review by the assistant state veterinarian showed that all but a handful had some sort of ailment, from worms to skin conditions to severe dental problems.

McBride insisted that the dogs were well cared for and said that she knew how to handle dogs because of her background as a veterinary technician.

McBride also said she had made progress on cleaning the cluttered house after arriving in Maine from Oklahoma in November, returning to care for her 91-year-old mother.

At the time, she had 44 dogs with her, then some of the dogs had litters while in Maine.

McBride sold at least some of the puppies. Visits by state officials and a local animal control officer were prompted by buyers complaining that the puppies they bought had diseases.

Late Friday afternoon, District Court Judge Deborah Cashman ordered McBride’s ownership rights forfeited.

McBride “is well meaning and there is no doubt that she loves her animals,” Cashman wrote in her ruling. “However, it is clear that at present she is not able to care properly for these animals and her neglect, even if not intentional, constitutes cruel treatment of the animals.”

Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Will Barry declined to comment on the ruling, but noted that McBride can appeal the decision. If she does, she will have to post money to cover the cost of caring for the animals while the appeal is pursued.

State officials testified Thursday that it costs $400 a day just for basic care of the dogs, and McBride, who is on Social Security disability, receives only $950 a month.

Attempts to contact McBride and her attorney, Alison Thompson, were unsuccessful Friday.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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