CARROLL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Free from abuse, on the mend, and tail wagging, four-year-old Dalmatian, James, was reunited with his family on Wednesday outside the Humane Society of Carroll County.

What’s happened to James in the last year and a half is anyone’s guess.

“I think that I’m overjoyed to have my dog and I’m very thankful for all the work that the county has put there for these dogs. I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Janie Vila, James’ owner.

James is the first of 27 dogs rescued from horrific and abusive conditions to go back home.

“It’s emotional for these owners. They are not getting the animals back in the condition that they last saw them,” said Karen Baker, Humane Society of Carroll County.

Though their fur is stained from living in raw sewage and they are adjusting to freedom- these dogs are survivors. They were abused and neglected, allegedly in the hands of Laura Filler and John Roberts, who face 51 counts of cruelty.

The couple is accused of running an illegal and unlicensed dog breeding operation, “Black Rock Puppies”.

Its now-defunct website advertised litters of Golden retriever puppies as far back to 2014.

But charging documents paint a putrid picture of what happened inside the Hampstead home.

Puddles of raw sewage were on every inch of the floor, kennels had been stacked up on top of each other. The dogs were emaciated with no food or water.

Some dogs were dead in their crates.

In all, 27 were rescued alive, and another 27 were found dead in the home and in a shed.

“We were contacted by many people when things hit the news. So people were calling in here concerned about their dog and were giving us microchip numbers hoping that we would find their dogs,” Baker said.

As what happens to these dogs plays out in court, the county is working on more reunions- to be filled with happy tears.

Filler and Roberts are due back in court for a preliminary hearing next month. The rescued dogs are still being treated and are not yet ready for adoption.

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Devin Bartolotta

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