Lakewood man pleads guilty to cruelty to animals after police remove 41 dogs from home

LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WOIO) – A 71-year-old Lakewood man living with 41 beagles at his home pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals and must surrender all of the dogs.

Ernest Lazor was ordered by the court to pay over $27,000 to the animal shelter by Friday to keep the dogs, but now, he is forbidden from having any dogs for the next five years.

Last month, police rescued the 41 beagles from his home on Waterbury Road after multiple calls for action.

Lakewood Police officers said the house was full of feces.

“Numerous animals are not spayed or neutered so their having puppies and offspring and the conditions inside the home are very unkempt and unclean,” said Captain Gary Stone, Lakewood Police Department.

The city of Lakewood condemned Lazor’s home on Waterbury Road with investigators telling 19 News it’s unlivable and will have to be gutted.

The smell, so bad, Lazor was cited back in August 2022 for “noxious or offensive odors.”

It’s one of nine criminal cases 19 Investigates uncovered, involving Lazor and the dogs, dating back to 2018.

On Dec. 19, the dogs were taken to Lakewood Animal shelter and are being cared for as officials investigate the case.

On Dec, 29, Lazor faced a judge where the city laid out how much it’ll cost the Shelter to take care of the dogs for 30 days: a whopping $27,078 due by Jan. 6.

The court decided Lazor would have to foot that bill if he wanted to keep his dogs.

Court records show Lazor pleaded guilty to multiple counts of cruelty to animals in Lakewood Municipal Court on Jan. 6.

As part of the plea, Lazor surrendered ownership of the dogs to the City of Lakewood and agreed to pay full restitution for the costs the city incurred while caring for the beagles.

Lazor will enter a 5-year diversion program that requires him to undergo a mental health assessment and grief counseling to address the underlying causes of his behavior, court records stated.

Court records said Lazor is also forbidden from possessing or having physical control or custody of any dogs throughout the duration of the 5-year program.

He must also attend classes on the ethical treatment of animals, records show.

Court records stated Lazor would face up to 18 months of incarceration if he violates the term of the diversion program.

19 Investigates found records showing that Lazor purchased 26 acres of vacant land in Trumbull County back in October 2022.

The Lakewood Animal Shelter is still caring for the 41 beagles, who are all being provided with emergency veterinarian assessment and subsequent care, the city of Lakewood said.

The city said now that Lakewood has full ownership, the animal shelter team will begin working with its professional network to find healthy and permanent homes for the beagles.

“We are happy that the court case is fully resolved, which allows us to get the dogs one step further to being stabilized in long-term, loving homes,” Lakewood Animal Shelter Supervisor Elaine Hearn stated.

View 19 News’ previous coverage below: