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Rescuers say they still can't shake the stench after saving 42 dogs and rabbits from basement cages

Great Danes were stuffed four to a cage, standing or sleeping in their own waste with no access to food or water in a Southeast Washington home.

WASHINGTON — Nearly 40 dogs are recovering in a D.C. shelter after an anonymous tip led the Humane Rescue Alliance to a filthy basement in a Southeast Washington home. Rescuers said someone crammed several Great Danes into cages, forcing them to sleep in their own waste.

Dan D'Eramo from the Humane Rescue Alliance said the tip failed to prepare them for what they found: 33 Great Danes, three other dogs, and six rabbits crammed into wire cages; blood, feces, and urine covering the walls and concrete floor; no access to food or water; and the bodies of several puppies stuffed into a mini-fridge.

"A couple of them were wiggly and super-excited to see us," D'Eramo said. "But a lot of them had some issues." 

Rescuers said the stench was so intense, they've been unable to wash it off.

"Your lungs start to burn and your eyes water," D'Eramo said. "You've got to take multiple trips out to get fresh air. That was the dogs 24/7." 

There was no answer at the home Thursday, but at least one neighbor thinks rescuers were too quick to judge the situation. 

"He's a very good friend of mine," she said, declining to give her name as she stood in the yard of her home across the street. "Due process can be totally thrown out when a person is tried in public." 

Other neighbors could see no acceptable excuse for what they saw in the video. 

"I'm glad they got to the bottom and were able to solve this," Raefer Warner said. 

The Humane Rescue Alliance said there's evidence the man was breeding Great Dane puppies to sell them. 

"There's a lot of people that have animals, purebreds, in this type of situation, just pumping out puppies, selling them for a lot of money online," D'Eramo said. 

No charges have been brought so far, but the Humane Rescue Alliance said the investigation continues.

The dogs and rabbits will undergo veterinary exams over the next few days. but none required emergency care. The shelter will have to hold them for months as possible evidence, and the Humane Rescue Alliance said that's going to be expensive.

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