HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A 58-year-old man charged after police said they found 21 dead dogs in a Hampton home remains locked up after appearing in court Thursday morning.
Vernon Silver faces more than 60 counts, including felony cruelty to animals. A judge appointed Silver a public defender.
Police said officers were called to a home on Pochin Place earlier this month, and found the dead dogs inside. Silver was arrested two days later.
Court documents show Silver was the maintenance worker and had the only key to the home. According to the paperwork, another dog that survived was emaciated, in a pen with feces and urine, surrounded by decomposing dogs. Officials say the surviving dog is gaining weight and doing well. She’s still being evaluated for her medical and behavioral needs and is not currently available for adoption.
Officers found dogfighting books and magazines in Silver’s own home, the documents said.
Several people gathered outside court ahead of Thursday’s hearing holding signs in protest, including Regina Quinn, with Blue Angels Advocacy and Rescue.
“We know today’s just the arraignment, but we’re going to stay throughout…however long it takes, we’re going to be here showing our presence and asking for the harshest sentence,” she said.
Court documents show Silver told investigators he bought the animals from different people. He became sick two weeks before the investigation started and couldn’t walk, and admitted he did not feed or give them water for two weeks, the documents said.
“It was awful. My heart breaks because I can feel the pain…it is awful to starve to death and I can’t even imagine the pain they had felt,” said Hampton resident Julie Illes.
A woman who was in court to support Silver did not answer questions from 10 On Your Side about what may have been going on at the home, but quoted a Bible verse, saying, “The righteous man falls seven times and the Lord raises him up.”
Silver is due back in court in May.