EXETER, R.I. (WJAR) -- With an expletive and an obscene gesture, Eugene McQuade drove off the property of the Exeter Animal Shelter on Saturday with three of his dogs that were originally taken from him in January when they were found living in squalid conditions on properties in West Greenwich and Coventry. This week, 24 of 25 charges were dropped as part of a plea deal, and a judge ruled he was allowed to get three of his dogs back.
"For them to be returned to a place where they weren't getting care is not OK,” said one volunteer at the shelter who helped care for the dogs during the past four months.
NBC 10 News cameras captured McQuade shouting at volunteers at the shelter and threatening them with legal action when he was asked to sign an invoice for the animals’ care before taking the dogs.
"(He was) swearing at us, dropping F-bombs. It should not have happened like this,” said another volunteer.
The staff said the dogs’ health has improved since they arrived in January. Some had injuries from being tethered and they suffered from a parasitic condition called giardia, likely from drinking rain water.
This is not McQuade's first time in trouble with the law because of animal cruelty allegations. He was charged in 2013 of mistreating animals, and in 2014, he was accused of controlling vicious dogs.
"The laws have to be changed. This is terrible,” added one volunteer. “This is not his first offense. How can you be found guilty and still get the animals back?"
A friend that came with McQuade tried to physically threaten our photographer as the dogs were being loaded into a vehicle. Volunteers felt threatened by him too.
"His friend that he brought here was a bully, and he treated us terribly,” recalled one of them.
Despite the volatile situation at the shelter, the volunteers just want the dogs to be in a safe place.
"I think when someone is charged with abuse and neglect more than just this time, that something needs to be done,” reiterated one volunteer.
Eight of McQuade’s other dogs are being cared for at an animal shelter in Coventry. It is not clear at this time what their future may be.