An eviction of a woman from her San Diego County home turned up 21 dogs, as well as half a dozen chickens and roosters, on the tiny property.
"She knew she was in over her head," said Lt. Kalani Hudson, of the Department of Animal Services.
Authorities had gone to the home in Shelltown, a neighborhood near National City with many small, older residences, to evict the 70-year-old woman due to foreclosure. The nearly two dozen dogs were found suffering from fleas, ear and eye infections, matted fur and other problems, Hudson said.
The resident realized she could not care for the dogs and voluntarily relinquished them to the county, Hudson said.
The chickens and roosters roaming the backyard were taken away by family members, the lieutenant said. "They were basically healthy, free-roaming chickens," she said.
But the dogs were traumatized by living indoors, some in crates, many cringing at the approach of sheriff's deputies and animal services officers, Hudson said.
They will have to be trained "how to be dogs," she added, before they will be candidates for adoption.
"This was not the worst situation we've seen, but regular people would probably have been appalled at what we found."
The dogs -- small mixed-breed dogs and some small poodles -- are now at a county animal shelter in San Diego being examined by a veterinarian, Hudson said. Later they will be sent to rescue organizations for training.
An investigation is underway to determine if the woman who was evicted should face animal cruelty charges, Hudson said.