SAN LORENZO (KPIX 5) – Dozens of dogs are being held as evidence in an East Bay animal cruelty case that has dragged on for months.

Deputies removed 29 dogs from a home in San Lorenzo last May. Since then, most of those Chihuahuas have been held at the East County Animal Shelter in Dublin.

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Their owner, Michael Freitas is fighting one count of animal cruelty charge, and won’t surrender the dogs.

KPIX 5’s Da Lin: “Twenty-nine dogs just sounds excessive.”

Freitas: “No, it’s not excessive. It’s not hoarding. Cause there are places that have 300.”

Lin: “But people would say that’s hoarding, Mike.”

Freitas: No. Three hundred dogs or something, 300 or more.”

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The shelter can’t put them up for adoption because the law says the dogs are evidence while the case drags on in court.

Since the Chihuahuas have been locked up for close to a year, people worry about their health, they say the Chihuahuas are also taking up space from other stray dogs.

“I just want my dogs back and get on with my life,” Freitas said.

But deputies said when the dogs were in the home, they were locked in rooms and had no access to food and water. They said there were feces and urine throughout the house.

Next door neighbors said it was a nightmare, they couldn’t sleep.

“When you’d go to sleep, they were barking a lot,” next door neighbor Alex Gee told KPIX 5. “And then he would yell at them, which made them even more aggravated.”

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The shelter is caring for 21 of the 29 Chihuahuas, it is unclear what happened to the other eight. The shelter can’t do anything until the case is over.