Denham Springs man arrested in North Carolina on 19 felony animal cruelty charges

BETHLEHEM, NC (WAFB) - A 29-year-old man from Denham Springs is facing charges in North Carolina for 19 felony charges of animal cruelty.

According to a press release from the Alexander County Sheriff's Office, deputies were called out on Wednesday, April 5 to investigate a complaint about abandoned dogs at a home located in Bethlehem, NC.

"Upon arrival at the location, officers found a deceased dog that was inside a building with the front door padlocked," states the report. "The officer could see through the window and located the deceased dog. At this time, Animal Control was notified to respond to the scene."

Officials say they then located two dogs in a pop-up camper in small cages. Both appeared to be "very malnourished, with no water or food located."

The building where the animals were being housed was without power and had been so since March 26.

"After entry was made to the building, officers located five dogs that were extremely malnourished and emaciated with ribs visible," states the report. "One dog was deceased on the floor of the building. Two more deceased dogs were located in a freezer located in the building. A white cockatoo was also located deceased in the freezer. Nine quail were located deceased in a cage outside of the building. An African Gray bird was located in a cage without food or water."

All of the animals, officials say, were under the care of Matthew Trenton Leeth, who was allegedly renting the building to operate a canine training business.

Leeth was arrested and charged with 19 counts of felony cruelty charges and 19 additional misdemeanor abandonment of animal charges. He was booked into the Alexander County Detention Center where he is being held on a $200,000 bond.

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