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      Fremont hoarding case fosters fight for custody of dogs

      35 dogs were taken from a home in Fremont in July of 2011 for horrid conditions.

      Thirty-five dogs, three cats and one Cockatoo were taken from a 68-year-old Fremont womanâ??s home in July of 2011 when authorities discovered them "filthy"â??some covered in fecesâ??and in an alleged state of neglect.

      The owner, Susan Baker, was subsequently charged with 36 counts of animal cruelty while the Humane Society of Sandusky County spent thousands of dollars sheltering the animals and getting them basic veterinarian care. But almost a year and a half later, the case remains unresolved and some of the animals still remain in Bakerâ??s custody.

      "Unfortunately for the Humane Society of Sandusky County, theyâ??re still financially responsible for all of the animals," said Maureen Spaulding, a foster for one of the dogs. "Weâ??ve chosen to take care of ours financially, but not everybody can. So itâ??s draining their coffers."

      Spaulding's foster dog, Sweetie Pie, had to undergo a $1,500 surgery after she was diagnosed with skin and breast cancer. Her daughter, Beth Risenburg, was a volunteer for the humane society when she saw Sweetie Pie pawing at the cage to get her attention. She decided she would do whatever it took to give the dog a second chance at life.

      "I can't imagine betraying the trust of her love to me by not getting her healthy," Risenburg told WNWO in February.

      But only a few months after Sweetie Pieâ??s surgery, Risenburg died unexpectedly, leaving the foster dog in the care of her mother. Spaulding said she canâ??t imagine surrendering Sweetie Pie to Baker after all theyâ??ve gone through, and began a letter writing campaign to the judge handling the case.

      "Weâ??ve had letters from Ireland, England, Germanyâ??you name it. Weâ??ve had them from all over the states," Spaulding said. "Her hearing is January 16, so we're hoping the case will be over and the dogs be awarded to their foster families and the Sandusky County Humane Society."

      Until then, Spaulding says sheâ??s doing her duty as foster grandma by spoiling Sweetie Pie rotten. She hopes if sheâ??s awarded custody to take Sweetie Pie to her daughterâ??s gravesite to share the good news.

      "We're coming right here, we're going to come tell her mom," Spaulding said while visiting the cemetery, holding Sweetie Pie tight in her arms.

      To help the Humane Society of Sandusky County with the expenses of this hoarding case, visit or call 419-334-4517.