An American Kennel Club judge could be facing charges of 14 counts of animal cruelty after more than 60 dogs were seized from her home, police said today.
Authorities in Kings County, Wash., say they could bring charges against Margie Hamilton as early as next week. The King's County Sheriff's Department seized 62 dogs from her home, 15 of which had to be euthanized because they were so ill.
The investigation was sparked by a video sent anonymously to Pasado's Safe Haven, an animal rescue group. The rescue group conducted their own investigation first, finding 38 additional dogs that they believe belonged to Hamilton at a different location. They then turned over what they found to authorities.
"We were shocked to find out her status in the animal world. She spent decades in the animal world, not only as an AKC judge but involved in many dog groups. So it's shocking to see this kind of neglect coming from a person who has so much experience in the animal world," said Amber Chenoweth, spokeswoman for Pasado's.
Chenoweth said the dogs were living in small kennels, stacked up on top of one another, and filled with feces and urine.
The dogs were mainly Pomeranians, chihuahas, and Japanese Chins, Chenoweth said.
"She has owned some of the top Chihuahuas in the world. I wonder if the dogs stuffed in the basement were past show dogs that were not making money anymore," she said.
All three breeds are listed on the AKC website as breeds that Hamilton is approved to judge in dog shows.
The surviving dogs have been placed with an animal sanctuary and are up for adoption.
ABC News' afilliate KOMO said today that one of the dogs that was rescued had won a coveted award at the Westminster Kennel Club Show earlier this year.
Hamilton, of Issaquah, Wash., said on the advice of her attorney that she would not comment on the investigation while it was ongoing. She did say there was "a great deal to the story," and she looks forward to commenting when the legal process is finished.
Hamilton is listed on the AKC website as having judged dog shows in Washington, Utah, and California in past years.