updated 1/27/2009 8:53:54 PM ET 2009-01-28T01:53:54

More than 100 feral cats and dogs were euthanized after authorities found them living among the remains of hundreds of other dead animals that had been dumped in trash bags at a man's rented property.

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Temecula police on Friday arrested a 67-year-old man on suspicion of animal cruelty after officers responded to a call that two vicious dogs were running loose at his address, Riverside County sheriff's spokesman Javier Rodriguez said.

The man had let animals breed and roam freely on his property, Rodriguez said, and the creatures had completely taken over his mobile home. Officers even found animals hiding in cupboards.

"The smell, I can't tell you how bad the smell was," said Willa Bagwell, executive director of Animal Friends of the Valleys, which provides animal control services for Temecula.

When animal control officers arrived, packs of dogs were attacking each other and killing one of their own, Bagwell said. About 70 dogs circled officers and threatened to attack, forcing authorities to euthanize them.

"They were just wild animals. They had never been touched," she told The Press-Enterprise of Riverside. "I've never seen this many animals and animals this feral."

Nine puppies and one dog were saved but authorities had to remove the bodies of 318 cats and dogs, Bagwell said. Outside the mobile home, more than 100 plastic trash bags were filled with animal feces and animal corpses.

Margaret Sturgeon, 82, said she sometimes talked briefly to the man and he seemed normal.

"He said he had three dogs," she said. "He never acted as if anything was wrong."

More on feral animals | pet overpopulation

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