HAMPSTEAD, Md. (WJZ) — Hampstead came together in prayer after an apparent animal abuse case in Carroll County killed more than two dozen dogs.

“When I heard about this story, I literally cried,” said Holly Oertel, animal advocate.

About two dozen people prayed for the 54 dogs who endured severe neglect and abuse on a Hampstead property.

Police said Laura Filler and John Roberts were operating an illegal breeding operation.

16 More Dead Dogs Found At Carroll County Home; Couple Held Without Bail

Charging documents described dogs locked in their cages, with no food or water. First responders trudged through inches of raw sewage and decomposing animals to rescue 27 dogs.

Another 27 dogs were found dead.

“This case has really brought our town together. And it’s really neat to see how everyone comes together and we’re going to do what we can for these dogs, the living ones and the ones that have perished,” Oertel said.

A fundraiser by the Dalmatian Club of American Foundation raised $18,000 for care and rehabilitation.

One of the dogs, James, was reunited with his family last week, after a year and a half away.

First Dog Reunites With Family After 27 Dogs Rescued From Alleged Illegal Dog Breeding Operation

“I really want to go home and be with my dog. That’s what I really want to do right now,” said James’ mom.

As the dogs recover at the Humane Society of Carroll County, their suspected abusers face more than 50 charges of cruelty each.

“It’s horrible. I don’t think those people should see the light of day ever, ever, ever again,” said Jennifer McFarland, animal advocate.

Hampstead animal advocates have vowed they will fight for the maximum legal penalty.

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Devin Bartolotta

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