On one side of the street in Glen Burnie is Pets Galore, with its perky puppies and its shelves stocked with food. On the other side, in a nondescript house, nine dogs and four cats went without water and starved for weeks, animal control officers said.
By the time police arrived, drawn there by complaints of the stench, five of the dogs were dead.
In what Anne Arundel police are calling the worst case of animal cruelty in county history, the home's owner has been charged with 27 counts of the crime after officers' grisly discovery last month.
Kelly Schreck of the 7400 block of East Furnace Branch Road was jailed yesterday on $800,000 bond - the highest ever in Anne Arundel for animal cruelty. County District Court Judge Robert C. Wilcox refused to lower Schreck's bail for fear that she may pose a danger to herself, her two children or society.
"I don't want to run the risk of her getting out and harming herself or others," Wilcox said.
An attorney for Schreck argued that the bail should be lowered because she does not pose a flight risk, after depicting Schreck as a divorced mother of two who suffered from severe depression.
Schreck, who lived with her daughters, first came to the attention of animal control in April 2006 when officers responding to a complaint found she was keeping eight dogs - twice the number allowed by county law, based on the size of her home, said animal control field supervisor Mark Smith.
The county denied her application to have more, so she got rid of four dogs, Smith said.
Following up on another complaint, officers found an emaciated dog in Schreck's yard May 1 and ordered her to take it to the veterinarian, said Smith.
The veterinarian said the dog had minor medical problems and offered to keep the animal as a pet, so Schreck left it there.
Tipped off by an anonymous caller, an officer returned June 13. No one answered the door, but she saw an emaciated Harlequin Great Dane sprawled on a bed surrounded by his own waste and trash, according to court documents.
After smelling decaying flesh and seeing flies and blood splattered on the outside basement walls, police said, she called for backup.
Fearing the owner might be dead, police said, officers forced their way into the home and found five dead dogs and four others that were extremely malnourished, and the four skinny cats.
Five Great Danes and a German shepherd were found in the basement. The only one alive was a malnourished black male Great Dane locked inside a wire cage with a dead dog.
It later died at an Annapolis veterinary hospital, weighing 31 pounds. Healthy dogs of that breed weigh between 120 and 130 pounds.
On the main floor were three thin female dogs, also Great Danes. Two were in cages, and the third was locked in a bedroom, according to court documents.
When neighbor, Stacie Moorhead, 31, stepped outside her door that afternoon, the odor from four houses away hit her.
"The odor coming from that place smelled like somebody had died," she said.
Animal control officers took the pets to veterinary hospitals. County police at the time said they were trying to determine who was responsible for the property and animals.
Following their investigation, they charged Schreck on Monday, and she turned herself in Thursday.
"This is the worst case and the highest bond," Smith said. "Even if the judge lets her out, there's no guarantee she won't get more [dogs]. We can't stop her."
Wilcox rejected her attorney's argument that the dogs died of hookworm and ringworm.
"That's what parents do - they make sure their children don't have these afflictions," Wilcox said. "Whatever these dogs had doesn't address the issue of fecal matter and blood on the walls."
A small group of animal rights activists and Great Dane owners showed up at the court hearing yesterday to show their support for the animal control officers.
"We're devastated as a community and as human beings," said Karen Quataman, 45, a county resident and member of the Great Dane Club of America. "We're not letting this drop and want to make sure animal abuse is a felony in all states."