By Hannah Mitchell
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Burke County animal control officers charged a Cleveland County man Wednesday with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty after finding 20 dogs living in unsanitary conditions next to his produce stand.
Members of a grass-mowing crew contacted authorities after seeing some of the dogs in thick layers of feces, said Lt. Steve Massey with the Burke County Sheriff's Office animal control division.
Officers searched the property next to Hudson's Produce on N.C. 18 south of Morganton and found the mixed-breed dogs, four of them puppies, in a camper and three buildings. In some cases, the animals were living in a foot of built-up feces, Massey said.
The charged Steve Hudson, 59, and took the dogs to the county animal shelter. They also found the carcass of one dog.
Hudson told officers he had taken in stray dogs that happened by his produce stand, Massey said, and that the situation had gotten out of hand.
The discovery of the animals came in the same week that Catawba County animal-control authorities confiscated 153 dogs from a home south of Newton due to unsanitary conditions. Those dogs were adopted or taken in by adoption organizations.