James Edward Holcomb Jr. is facing 71 different counts, including felony aggravated cruelty to animals and torture.By Ross Guidotti

BROWNSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) – State police and humane agents say they found 13 dogs living in deplorable conditions at a home in Fayette County. But family members of the man accused of mistreating the dogs say the charges are overblown.

James Edward Holcomb Jr.’s family says the 44-year-old loves his dogs and would never do anything to hurt them. But humane agents and state police say the animals were neglected and tortured.

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When state police showed up at the Brownsville home they say they were overcome by the scent of dog feces and urine and they say what their eyes saw was shocking.

“It was just a sad sight to see,” said Trooper Robert Broadwater.

According to troopers and state humane officers, some six adult dogs and seven puppies were living in conditions that were inhumane, cruel and deplorable.

“The one dog couldn’t even walk in its own little enclosure because of feces and everything else to the point it was sitting on top of the box,” said Broadwater. “They were malnourished, underweight, wounds on the body, fur was falling off.”

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Charges against Holcomb include 71 different counts, including felony aggravated cruelty to animals and torture.

“Just no way for an animal to live,” said Broadwater.

(Photo: KDKA)

“I’ve watched James, his son, we’ve had workers hired to come down to clean the cages. They feed the dogs and water the dogs,” said family friend Karen Atallah.

Court records allege the various cages the animals were in were dangerous, but Atallah, a friend of Holcomb’s family, says they’re safe and the animals’ injuries were from when one broke loose and attacked another. And she says all of the dogs had regular trips to the vet.

“The animal love around here is more than I’ve ever seen. Nobody forces you to have animals, you spend money on their food and shelter, there’s no reason to have them if they’re gonna torture them or abuse them and it doesn’t make sense,” said Atallah.

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State police say all animals seized are now receiving veterinary care and are doing better. Meanwhile, Holcomb, who was on parole from a separate incident, is being held on bond.