ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- A breeder in Alamance County is charged with nine felonies after four dogs died at Brewer's Kennel last month.
Nancy Brewer, 54, is charged with four counts of killing animals by starvation and five counts of cruelty to animals.
Animal advocates are speaking up online, saying the timeline of the dogs' deaths and the investigation into the kennel don't add up. Many people are saying something should have been done sooner.
Before the dogs died in late July, animal control had already shown up unannounced four times to Brewer's Kennel. They claimed they couldn't find anything wrong or any signs of neglect.
Between the fourth and fifth visits, a matter of a few days, four German Shepards ended up dead. A necropsy report showed they died from starvation, according to the Alamance County Sheriff's Office.
Law enforcement told FOX8 on Monday they won't talk on camera about the case until it's wrapped up in court.
Now, the 18 remaining German Shepards from Brewer's Kennel are being held at Burlington Animal Services.
"Starvation cases are typically ones that would involve neglect," said Dr. Glenn Huth, the owner of Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital.
Dr. Huth says starvation in dogs isn't a quick process. It usually takes place over the course of months.
"When you can see the spine, you can see the bone, those animals have gone through a fair amount of muscle breakdown to get to that level," he said. "Dehydration though, that can happen really within 24 to 48 hours."
Alamance County sheriff's officials say "dehydration" does fall under the "killing by starvation charge." They confirmed that's likely why the dogs died so quickly between checks by animal control.
Huth says it was probably a combination that killed four dogs last month.
"If you have an animal that's already debilitated because of starvation, and then you put it in a hot environment and dehydration, it's just not going to have the ability to fight that off," he said.
When animal control visited Brewer's Kennel, they said water was available to the dogs. But Huth says factors like breed, temperature outside, and the humidity level can affect how much water a dog needs each day and how easily they can cool off.
"There's too much moisture in the air, so they're having a harder time cooling themselves," Huth said.
Because the case is ongoing, Burlington Animal Services couldn't tell us how the remaining 18 German Shepards are doing.
Huth says if you see a case of possible animal neglect, it's best to call animal control, even if it takes multiple visits to find a problem.
"I think it's always best to err on the side of protection of the animal," he said. "You know, there are some people that I think over-assume and go beyond what they should be getting involved with."
Sheriff's officials say Brewer's Kennel is effectively shut down, at least until this case wraps up.
The Alamance County District Attorney's Office said Brewer posted bond this weekend. She'll appear in Alamance County court on Monday, Aug. 14, for a first appearance hearing.
Burlington Animal Services said this case has put a huge strain on its already overcrowded shelter.
But last month, BAS had a record-breaking adoption month. It adopted out more than 280 pets in July, which helped free up space for new animals.
BAS said the 18 German Shepards will stay at the shelter until this case is concluded in court.