WENTWORTH, N.C. -- Of the 70 dog runs at the Rockingham County Animal Shelter, manager Brittany Flynn says 13 are inhabited by dogs who will never be adoptable.
"You can tell they're different than the other dogs," Flynn said. "You have to use extra precautions to clean and take care of them. You really can't go in and socialize with them. They've added a lot more strain to us."
The 13 dogs have been at the shelter for a year as of Nov. 24, 2015.
That's when they were detained -- accused of contributing to the death of 62-year-old Jose Robles, found dead in a Rockingham County ditch. The dogs' owner, Daniel McCollum, was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
"Thirteen kennels is tremendous," Flynn said. "It's 13 spaces that you would have free for somebody else."
Flynn said the dogs' presence contributes to overcrowding issues at the shelter. Right now, Flynn said that overcrowding is at an unprecedented level.
"We've never been this full at the holidays before," Flynn said. "It does make euthanasia much more of a reality than it was in the past."
Flynn said the 13 dogs are suffering, too, because they are too aggressive to have any social interaction with other dogs or humans. Each is placed in a solitary kennel, and Flynn said the dogs have not been let out for the year they've been at the shelter.
District Attorney Craig Blitzer said, as an animal lover, he hates for the dogs to be in those conditions, but that's the only option.
"To some degree, those dogs are no different than a murder weapon in a homicide," Blitzer said. "We wouldn't be returning firearms to the owners in a homicide."
Blitzer said he was not the DA when the decision was made to seize the dogs.
"I wouldn't have seized all of those dogs," Blitzer said. "Puppies were seized that we understand were incapable of inflicting any of the wounds."
Animal shelter staff estimates the cost of caring for the dogs to be $70,000 so far. Blitzer said he doubts that number, but if it is correct, he still believes it's the role of the animal shelter to fill that function.
McCollum is due in court Jan. 4 and Blitzer said once the case is resolved, a decision will be made on the dogs.
To ease overcrowding, the Rockingham County Animal Shelter is adopting out dogs for as low as $25 and cats for as low as $15. The special runs until Dec. 1.