In November 2009, animal hoarder Judy Cahill of Rockville, Maryland, was convicted of animal neglect in a shocking and disturbing case. Prosecutors say that during a 30-year period, the woman kept thousands of dogs at her home. According to the Huffington Post, she would place ads in the paper with offers to “rehome” dogs who needed an owner, then euthanize them.
When authorities finally caught her, her home was covered in feces and full of crates with bent bars and trashcans full of dog carcases. Shelley Janashek was one of the first people to witness the devastation, and she was a witness against Cahill in the 2009 Montgomery County civil case. As they inspected the home they found the ashes of more 240 dogs.
Janashek believes these were Cahill’s “special” dogs, the ones she cared about enough to have cremated. Finally, four years after the gruesome discovery, the remains of these dogs finally got laid to rest in a peaceful, serene location, at the memorial park at the Baltimore Humane Society.
“Knowing they are at rest. That they weren’t just sent to a trash dump, demolished along with the house — that means something,” said Janashek.
Janashek presided over a funeral for the dogs at the park, who were buried in a plot donated by the Baltimore Humane Society. The grave will become a memorial to all the dogs who have suffered at the hands of Cahill.
Anne Lyon, who attended the funeral, told ABC2News.com, “I feel like I am doing something to pay homage to the animals and all the people who are making this possible, so that this can be an example for the people to know this kind of thing happens.”
Janashek said that the number of dogs laid to rest represents a fraction of the total amount of dogs who died under Cahill. After discovering the ashes that remained, she held onto them for four years until she was able to secure a plot.
“They are not trash,” Janashek said “They should not have been trash and they are not trash now. They are going to be buried in a beautiful place.”
As for Cahill, she pleaded guilty and is barred from owning a dog for 10 years, and her name has been added to an online animal abuse database.