16 more dead dogs found at Hampstead property, Humane Society of Carroll County says

The Humane Society of Carroll County on Tuesday said 16 more dead dogs were found on the property at 4302 Black Rock Road in Hampstead, where 11 dogs were found dead and 27 others were rescued Friday.

“Sadly, 15 deceased dogs were located in a locked shed on the property, and one additional deceased dog was recovered from the residence, all of which were in varying stages of decomposition,” Karen Baker, executive director of the Humane Society, said in an email Tuesday morning.


Baker later announced that the first of the dogs deemed healthy enough to return to its previous owner will be released Wednesday.

John J. Roberts, 49, and Laura S. Filler, 55, who had been charged with 51 counts each of animal cruelty and related charges, remained held without bond Tuesday at the Carroll County Detention Center. They were arrested Saturday after an anonymous tip alerted the Humane Society to “a large number of dogs” inside the building. Local authorities forced their way inside to investigate the home after an animal control officer smelled “decomposition.”


Inside the home, first responders found “liquid raw sewage” that was 3 or 4 inches deep in some places. First responders wore breathing masks and oxygen tanks in order to move through the residence, recover the dead dogs’ bodies and rescue 27 surviving dogs.

A Hampstead man and woman were both held without bond as of Tuesday morning after 38 dogs, including 11 which had died, were found “in the most extreme filth” at a home at 4302 Black Rock Road in Hampstead.

According to an application for statement of charges, Filler and Roberts ran an unlicensed breeding operation, marketed as Black Rock Dalmatians and Black Rock Puppies out of the home.

A lawsuit against Black Rock Puppies was filed in Carroll County on March 8. The complainant, Sandra Reed, a dog breeder in Wisconsin, alleges that Roberts and Filler — also known as Laura Roberts, according to court records — did not complete an agreed-upon payment for three golden retriever puppies.

Reed said the two bought the puppies from her in 2016 and made a few payments but have not made the final payment. Roberts “had one excuse after the other” for not paying, Reed said. She filed the lawsuit before the two were charged with animal cruelty and before investigators discovered any dogs inside the home on Black Rock Road.

Reed is talking with local authorities, including the Humane Society, to try and discover if the puppies she sold to Roberts and Filler are still alive.

“It’s not even the money. I need to know if they’re in safe hands,” Reed said. “My puppies are like my kids.”

After 27 dogs were rescued from a home at 4302 Black Rock Road in Hampstead, in what court records called “the most extreme filth” on Friday, philanthropic efforts are underway to help the dogs and those who are supporting them.

At least one dog will be going to a new home Wednesday at 1 p.m., according to Baker.

“The Humane Society of Carroll County will begin releasing the Black Rock dogs back to their proven previous owners over the next week. We will contact the owners to make arrangements for the reclaiming process,” Baker wrote in an email to the Times on Tuesday afternoon. “At this time only dogs with confirmed microchips that have been fully examined, treated, and documented will be released.”

All of the rescued dogs have been getting treatment at the Humane Society, according to Baker.

“At this time all of the dogs have been seen by a veterinarian, and are enjoying interacting with our staff and lead dog volunteers,” she said via email.

Inside the home where the dogs were found, those that were upstairs did not have access to food, but those being kept in the basement did, according to court records.

“All the dogs were living in the most extreme of filth. There was very little space and no area that was not covered in the raw sewage type material. There was no potable water and it appeared that the dogs had been drinking the thick liquid sewage,” the statement of charges reads. “As we removed the dogs they began licking the rain water from the temporary cages they were placed in.”


The surviving dogs — 20 Dalmatians, five golden retrievers and two English setters — were bathed and seen by a veterinarian, according to the Humane Society. Baker described the surviving dogs as “comfortable,” though she could not give an estimated timeline Monday for how long the dogs would be in the Humane Society’s care.

Roberts and Filler do not own the home where the dogs were found, according to online property records. The homeowner said she is “sick to [her] stomach.”

“They ruined my house,” Sharon Chiodi said Monday. Chiodi said she is cooperating with investigators.

The Humane Society on Monday said it does not need additional donations of dog food, but is accepting monetary donations to care for the dogs and has an Amazon Wish List through which individuals can choose items to purchase and then donate. Monetary donations can be made online at hscarroll.org/donate. All dogs that were eligible for adoption that were at the Humane Society are being transferred to Howard County and the Maryland SPCA for adoption services, and the kennels at Carroll County will be closed to the public “until further notice,” the society said on Facebook.

The Dalmatian Club of America Foundation started a fundraiser on Facebook and has so far brought in $16,590, out of a $15,000 goal. The Dalmatian Club of America Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3), and organizers said 100 percent of the donations will be distributed to organizations that help the rescued dogs or earmarked for future Dalmatian rescue operations.

Local authorities continue to investigate. Animal Control can be contacted at 410-848-4810.

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