Evidence heard against Hampton man charged in dead dogs case

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A Hampton man charged in a case involving 21 dead dogs heard evidence against him, Wednesday afternoon.

Vernon Silver, 58, faces more than 60 counts, including felony cruelty to animals.

Gallery: 21 Dogs Found Dead Inside Hampton Home

Police were called to a home on Pochin Place for a report of an unusual smell. Officers went inside the home and found 21 dead dogs. An animal control officer took the stand to describe what she saw inside the home. She said she saw more than a dozen cages covered in urine and feces; no trace of water or food in dog bowls.

Vernon Silver, center, appears in court Wednesday, May 31, 2017. He is charged in a case of 21 dead dogs that were found in a home earlier this year. Credit: WAVY/Walter Hildebrand.

Then she saw the 21 deceased dogs in different levels of decay. Several stuffed into a cage, their bodies so badly decomposed she said their skin felt like tar.

“There’s not many words you can describe what these dogs clearly have gone through to die of malnutrition or starvation,” says Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell.

Court documents show Silver was a maintenance worker and had the only key to the home on Pochin Place. Investigators claimed Silver told them, in an interview, he got a key from the owner. They reported he said he was to remodel the home.

At least one dog kept at the house survived, though it was emaciated in a pen surrounded by feces, urine and decomposing dogs.

Officers also found dog fighting books and magazines in Silver’s own home. The judge certified the charges and sent them to a grand jury.

Group holds vigil for dead dogs found inside Hampton home

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bell says they plan to file another charge by that time.

“We found some evidence of dog fighting in the home, we feel that we are going to prevail upstairs,” he explains.

Silver was issued 32 summonses in April 2014 for failure to provide adequate care and animal cruelty. More than a dozen pit bulls were removed from a home on Abbey Court by Animal Control. He was found guilty in 2015 for animal cruelty.

A judge ruled last month to deny Silver bond, saying the 58-year-old could be a danger to the community.

A Hampton Animal Control officer looks at evidence in court May 31, 2017, during a preliminary hearing in the case of Vernon Silver. Silver was charged earlier this year after 21 dead dogs were found in a home on Pochin Place. Credit: WAVY/Walter Hildebrand.