A man accused of hoarding more than a hundred small dogs at his North County home plead not guilty at his first court appearance Monday.
San Diego couple Mark Vattimo, 73, and Christine Calvert, 62, each face 10 felony counts of animal abuse and neglect. Vattimo also faces one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.
Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said each defendant faces a maximum prison sentence of nine years if convicted of all counts consecutively.
"The dogs were in a main room. There was a mattress on the floor. There were mice running across the floor. Feces and urine soaked the mattress -- they were on that and most of the walls," said Reedy.
At the arraignment, Vattimo was ordered not to have any animals in his possession, in his home or to be in contact with any animals.
Initially, Vattimo did not comply with having his properties searched but several days later he complied, said Reedy. The San Diego Humane Society went to the house, after receiving a complaint from a concerned veterinarian.
There were 29 dogs turned over within the first couple hours. Later, 46 dogs were located in Nevada, that were taken from San Diego by Vattimo's wife Calvert. She will return to San Diego for her arraignment.
There were a total of 169 yorkshire terriors seized by the authorities from each defendant. All of the animals had a variety of health conditions and problems.
“All of the dogs that were removed from the home and their care had some type of problem -- there were genetic problems, there were health problems, there was dental disease. There was eye problems and a variety of health conditions," said Reedy.
It was not immediately clear whether either of the defendants suffered from a mental health disorder that would have lead to the hoarding. The Deputy District Attorney Reedy said this would become apparent later in the case.
All of Vattimo's properties may be searched for animals, which may include a restaurant that he owns.
After the dogs were rescued, the Humane Society received more than 1,500 applications for their adoption. The couple was arrested in late February.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of a defendant. The article has been corrected. We regret the error.