Man Charged After Multiple Animals Where Found Abandoned, Malnourished, And Dead On Property

BETHLEHEM, NC — Deputies arrested and charged 29-year-old Matthew Leeth for multiple counts of animal cruelty and abandonment.

According to reports, deputies were called to a property on Bolick Lane shortly after 6pm Wednesday to investigate several dogs that were reported abandoned. When they arrived, officials said they could see a dead dog through the window of a padlocked building.

Deputies began searching the property and found two very malnourished dogs, with no food or water present, locked in cages inside a pop-up camper. Officials say they also learned that power to the property had been cut off since March 26th.

Animal Control and Bethlehem VFD also responded to the scene to help with the search and rescue of the animals. After entering the padlocked building, deputies say they found five more very malnourished dogs, one dog dead on the floor, and two dead dogs in a freezer. Officials say they also found a white cockatoo dead in the freezer, nine dead quail in a cage outside, and an African Gray bird in a cage without food or water.

According to a release, Leeth, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, was renting the property for a canine training business. Deputies contacted Leeth, who was in Louisiana at another canine training business that he owned, to inform him of the situation and told him he needed to return to Alexander County.

Leeth was interviewed upon his return Thursday morning and charged with 19 counts of Felony Cruelty to Animals and 19 counts of Misdemeanor Abandonment of an Animal. He was plpaced under a $200,000 secured bond.