Dozens of dogs removed from Plainfield home

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 03-28-2023 1:47 PM

PLAINFIELD — Police and representatives of various animal welfare groups removed more than 70 small dogs from a North Union Street home Monday.

The animals were reportedly well cared for and in good health.

Police Chief Justin Litchfield said the coordinated response followed a well-being check he conducted last week at the home of Nancy Lawrence. He said Lawrence, 64, acknowledged that she had a problem with hoarding, and that taking care of all her animals — including 30 pigs, two cows, chickens, guinea hens and ducks — had become overwhelming.

When she showed him into the house, he found more than 70 dogs inside.

“The dogs were friendly,” he said. “They looked like they were well taken care of.”

Litchfield said he contacted a mental health clinician, the health department and the state Department of Agricultural Resources. State veterinarian Dr. Lorraine O’Connor came out from Boston, Monday, along with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

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Litchfield noted that Lawrence was not contesting the removal of the dogs from her home.

“She’s surrendering her dogs,” he said. “The (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is coming out Thursday to help with the pigs.”

The MSPCA had visited the home last Monday, Litchfield said, and had called him afterward with some concerns, partly because Lawrence would not let them inside the house. He said the MSPCA also called the agriculture department, which submitted the request for a well-being check.

Litchfield said his understanding was that Lawrence, a longtime Plainfield resident, began acquiring the dogs, mostly chihuahuas, about three years ago, and began breeding them during the pandemic.

Representatives of shelters such as the Berkshire Humane Society and Dakin Animal Shelter were on hand Monday to take in the dogs.

The Department of Public Health declared Lawrence’s home unfit for habitation, and she is now staying elsewhere, Litchfield said.

For the future, he’s hoping volunteers will step up to help resolve the hoarding situation in her house, and Lawrence will be able to make a fresh start.

“We’re looking for people to help her live in her house again,” he said.

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