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Police rescue multitude of dogs from Turlock homes
Suspect sought in animal cruelty case
animal cruelty 1
Turlock Police officers rescue 73 dogs from three homes in the 400 block of S. First Street on Thursday (Photo courtesy of TPD).

When the Turlock Police Department served search warrants at homes on South First Street in connection to an animal cruelty and dogfighting investigation, they expected to rescue a dozen or so dogs. Inside the homes they found crates stacked upon crates along the walls and hours later when the operation concluded they had rescued 73 dogs.

Neighbors were just as shocked to learn there were that many dogs in the homes.

“We’d hear dogs crying and barking at all hours but had no idea there were that many in there,” said one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous.

The search warrants were served for three homes in the 400 block of S. First Street. One property had two homes searched and the other was one property over.

Police rescue multitude of dogs from Turlock homes

Turlock Police officers rescue 73 dogs after serving search warrants were served for three homes in the 400 block of S. First Street.
By: Photo contributed by the Turlock Police Department

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The investigation was conducted by the police department’s Special Investigations Unit and initiated in March after Turlock Animal Services expressed their concerns based on prior contacts in the area. There had been two calls reporting dog bites, one call of a sick and/or injured dog and another call reporting a vicious dog, said Turlock Police spokeswoman Dominique Sanchez.

Animal Control Officer Callie Borges took the initiative to compile all documentation related to the addresses and handed it over to detectives for review.

During the course of the investigation, surveillance, including the use of the department’s drone unit, revealed approximately 10 dogs that were tethered in the yards. Tethering is a term to describe a practice of fastening an animal to a stationary object, which is illegal in California.

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All dogs were seized as evidence and transported to the shelter where they have been evaluated by a veterinarian and treated for any injuries or diseases (Photo courtesy of TPD).

A video provided by the police department shows one room with approximately two dozen dog crates stacked on top of one another, some with one dog in the crate and others with multiple dogs crowded inside. Empty dog food sacks were used to cover the front of the crates and when an animal control officer lifted one at least six puppies can be seen clamoring at the crate door.

Other dogs were found outside with thick metal chains around their necks.

“The living conditions that the dogs were living in were deplorable and inhumane,” the police department said in a news release.

All dogs were seized as evidence and transported to the shelter where they have been evaluated by a veterinarian and treated for any injuries or diseases. Some of the dogs are pregnant and due to deliver any day. For the time being the dogs have to remain at the shelter until the court proceedings begin, Sanchez said.

“Once that happens, the animal control officers will then determine what’s best for the dogs and the community,” Sanchez said.

The vast number of dogs has forced the shelter to halt any owner surrenders until further notice. There are currently 10 dogs that are in the shelter that are not part of this investigation and need to be adopted or sent to rescue groups. All fees will be waived, according to the police department.

Detectives have identified Jorge Ayala, 46, of Turlock, as the suspect of this investigation. His whereabouts are currently unknown. It’s unknown at this time what charges Ayala is facing.

Jorge Ayala
Police are seeking Jorge Ayala, 46, of Turlock, as the suspect in the animal cruelty investigation.

This was just one of several extensive dog rescues that has happened in Stanislaus County since early March.

On March 11, Stanislaus Animal Services Agency rescued 38 Chihuahuas from a Ceres home. A week later SASA rescued 86 dogs from a hoarding situation in Ceres. In that case, SASA said the living conditions were so “deplorable” that a child and an elderly resident had to be taken to a hospital for medical evaluation.

The inundation of dogs pushed the county shelter into an overcrowding situation with a peak of 327 dogs.

"We are immensely grateful for the outpouring of support from animal lovers near and far," said Vaughn Maurice, Executive Director of SASA. "The response from individuals, rescue groups, volunteers, and donors has been truly inspiring and instrumental in our efforts to provide care and find homes for these animals."

SASA had brought the number of dogs at the shelter down to 239 by the end of March. In an effort to alleviate overcrowding and find loving homes for the remaining dogs, SASA announced generous donors will cover the adoption fees for every adoptable dog through Sunday. Each dog will be spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and ready to go to their new home.

"We recognize the importance of finding permanent homes for these dogs, and we are grateful for the generosity of our donors in making this event possible," Maurice said.

For those unable to adopt, SASA encourages community members to consider alternative ways to help, such as becoming a foster home for a dog, volunteering at the shelter, or making a donation to support their ongoing efforts.

"We are all part of a compassionate community that cares for its furry residents," Maurice said. "Together, we can make a difference in the lives of shelter pets and ensure they receive the love and care they deserve.

The Turlock Police Department ask that anyone with information on the local case to call Detective Ulrich as (209) 668-6570.  You can also contact the Turlock Police Department’s Tip Line at (209) 668-5550 extension 6780 or email at