The dogs, at least one of which was stolen, will be cared for at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport.

FREEPORT — Alaqua Animal Refuge will be getting about 90 dogs surrendered by a Holmes County couple who face felony animal cruelty charges. 

The first dozen dogs are already at the Freeport shelter, with the remainder being taken there Saturday thanks to a team effort from animal welfare groups from a multi-county area.

Many of the dogs are suspected to have heartworm, which is expensive to treat, and all of them are "large nondescript" dogs, according to Founder Laurie Hood.

She said their size makes them harder to house and that their appearance makes them harder to place.

That may have been how they came to be at the Westville home of 55-year-old Ferrell D. Godfrey and 60-year-old Marianne L. Godfrey.

"I truly believe that the owners thought they were acting as a sanctuary," Hood said. "They thought they were taking in dogs no one else wanted."

She added that the dogs were extremely friendly and happy to see the rescuers, and that is not always the case with animals hoarded in poor conditions.

"I think they're a really good group of dogs behavior wise," she said.

Holmes County Sheriff's Office deputies discovered the dogs, all of whom were living outside, when they went to the home at 1478 Peak Road Monday on on a separate complaint. The dogs, many of which were chained to trees or crowded together in an outside pen, had no access to fresh food or water.

 Many of the animals appeared to be severely malnourished and/or seriously injured and suffering from mange or untreated wounds, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The Godfreys are each charged with felony animal cruelty.

Hood was contacted and spoke to the owners, who agreed to sign the dogs over to the refuge, she said.

At least one of the dogs was found to be microchipped and had disappeared during Memorial Day 2018 from South Florida.

Marianne Godfrey has previous animal cruelty charges in Georgia from 2011.

Those who suspect a dog belonging to them may have been at this home should contact Alaqua Animal Refuge. Keep in mind this is a process, however, and allow the organization some time to evaluate and account for all the animals.

Donations are needed at Alaqua for the dogs' care.