SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -

The owner of a pet rescue who collected money online to care for geriatric dogs has been arrested. Authorities said 60-year-old Stephen Caro was charged with 21 felony counts of cruelty to an animal on August 4, but he was finally taken into custody on Monday, August 15.

The charges were filed after San Bernardino Animal Control confiscated 180 dogs and two cats from the Morongo-based 'Paws Pet Ranch'. Ten dogs and both cats had to be euthanized.

According to Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus, several of the confiscated dogs have already been adopted and animal control is working to find homes for the remaining animals.

Authorities said Caro was arrested at his residence and booked into the Morongo Valley Detention Center.  

"This is a situation in which the defendant misled the public into thinking the money they were donating was being used to care for the dogs at his pet rescue," District Attorney Mike Ramos said. "Unfortunately, the conditions the animals were forced to live in were absolutelydeplorable."

June 28, Animals getting essential medical care after being neglected

A high desert animal rescue shut down after more than 100 dogs and cats were taken from the property.
The animals, now in the hands of San Bernardino County are getting the necessary care after being neglected for months. Some were rescues and others were being watched while their owners were away.

"He became overwhelmed and the animals weren't being cared for. That's when animal control was called," said Greg Beck with San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control.

One person who wishes to remain anonymous goes to the rescue often and said the stench of urine and feces was overwhelming. Dogs were left in crates for days. Animal control officers found one dog dead, after being chained outside with no water or shade.

"In total there was approximately 180 animals taken off the property including hens, roosters guinea pigs, dogs and cats," said Beck.

Now these dogs are getting a second chance.

"Were averaging 20, 30 exams per day and we're committed to being here Monday through Friday and we're hoping to have all of the patients seen," said assistant professor Frank Bossong from Western University.

Students and staff from Western University are providing examinations and basic care to 65 dogs at the San Bernardino County shelter.

"Our goal is to provide this as a donation to the Devore shelter. The students are volunteering I'm volunteering, we're trying to use a lot of supplies that are donated," Bossong said.

Almost all the dogs showing signs of mange and some had more serious problems.

"Some of the animals have more serious problems. Some of the animals are pretty profoundly emaciated, they haven't been fed for a while," said Bossong.

But Bossong said their future is bright.
"I'm looking forward to finding out when the dogs are going to be able to be adopted because I think most of them will make great family pets," said Bossong. 

The shelter said these dogs won't be adoptable until the investigation is over.

"The unique thing about this situation is there are people contacting us saying their animals were on the property and they would like them back," said Beck.

They're working to return these animals to their owners and find new homes for the rest. There's about 40 dogs being housed at the Apple Valley shelter and 40 cats are at the Yucca Valley animal shelter.

If you think any of these animals are yours, you can contact San Bernardino County Animal control at 800-472-5609.