“Have you ever seen a mass grave for dogs and cats? This guy is nothing more than an animal hoarder and he uses the animals to get money from the county,” a local pet rescuer said. “It’s hell on earth out there.”

A Kentucky man is behind bars tonight after being charged with 179 counts of animal cruelty. Police raided Randy Skagg’s “animal rescue operation” in Elliot County after several residents complained about the conditions the animals were kept in. From the court affidavit, the dogs were allegedly covered in their own feces, not given adequate food, and there was an “open pit grave” hidden in the woods behind the facility.

The number of deceased animals in the mass grave has yet to be determined. The rescue operation, it should be noted, operates as a “no kill shelter.”

Here’s the story from our friends at the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The operator of an animal sanctuary in Elliott County who has agitated for animal shelters across the state failed to properly care for scores of dogs and cats, Kentucky State Police charged.

Police charged Randy Skaggs, 67, with 179 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals and 179 counts of not vaccinating dogs against rabies, according to a news release issued Thursday.

The charges are misdemeanors.

Skaggs said he thinks the charges are retaliation for his efforts to push officials to comply with animal-control standards and provide adequate local shelters.

“We’ve been made the sacrificial lamb for Kentucky’s failure to invest in animal welfare,” Skaggs said Thursday. “Paybacks are hell.”

In 2000, Skaggs took part in a lawsuit alleging that dozens of counties didn’t have required animal control officers or shelters, and that some counties had used inhumane methods to euthanize dogs.

Kathryn Callahan, director of the Humane Society of the U.S. in Kentucky, said experts from the society went to Skagg’s facility several years ago to check on it.

The conditions were not as high as the society would have liked, Callahan said.

Julia Sharp, who operates an animal-rescue service called TLC Rescue in Rowan County, alleged that the conditions at Skaggs’ facility are “abysmal.”

She said problems include improper flea and tick control, inadequate health care and a lack of space. Skaggs has nearly 400 acres but the dogs and cats are confined to just a few acres, Sharp said, calling it a “mud pit.”

Animals sometimes suffer as they are dying because Skaggs does not believe in euthanizing them, Sharp said.

“He just dumps their bodies into a hole out behind the facility. It’s disgusting,” Sharp added.

When the newspaper profiled Skaggs in 1999, the facility had no running water and no indoor plumbing, and Skaggs slept on a plywood ledge in a tiny building.

We say lock him up and throw away the key. This guy was running an animal concentration camp and getting the county to subsidize it.

Are you outraged over his mistreatment of the animals in his care?