‘No-Kill’ Policies Slowly Killing Animals

When “no-kill” animal shelters and rescue groups are filled to capacity, which is almost always,…

When “no-kill” animal shelters and rescue groups are filled to capacity, which is almost always, they are left with two options: turn away more animals than they take in or warehouse animals, often in substandard, filthy, and severely crowded conditions, for weeks, months, or even years on end. Most, if not all, of the animals who are turned away from such facilities still face untimely deaths—just not at these facilities.

Instead they are cruelly killed by people who don’t want them, are dumped on roadsides and left to die from starvation or being hit by a car, or spend their short lives homeless, unwanted, and producing more litters of animals for whom no homes exist.

The lucky ones are taken to well-run open-admission animal shelters, where they either find a well-screened, permanent home or are painlessly euthanized in the arms of professionally trained, compassionate people. Here are some of the “no-kill” animal shelter failures that made headlines in recent years for making animals suffer a fate far worse than a kind death.

June 2021/Austin, Texas: KUT.org reported that a public “no-kill” facility doing business as Austin Animal Center had announced that its kennels were “completely full” and its placement partners were “also facing capacity issues.” According to the report, “The center is also urging people who find stray pets or may want to give up their pets to avoid taking them to the shelter for the time being.”

 June 2021/Borger, Texas: NewsChannel10.com reported that 38 dogs had been removed from a man who had reportedly been “rescuing dogs and bringing them into his house. His mission went south, as the animals started multiplying and getting sick.” Four of the dogs were reportedly pregnant. A spokesperson for an animal adoption group that assisted with the removal reportedly said the animals were “in horrific shape,” suffering from health problems such flea dermatitis, sores, scratches, and worms. The executive director of another animal adoption group said, “A lot of them, we’re noticing their mouths are not quite right. We’re noticing different bumps and lumps in different places that they shouldn’t be.” Four dogs had reportedly been left at the property because local shelters and adoption groups claimed that donations were needed to rescue them. No additional information was available.

June 2021/Terre Haute, Indiana: WTHITV.com reported that a self-professed “low-kill” facility doing business as Terre Haute Humane Society, Inc., had reported that in a three-day period, two dogs had been left outside its doors. The group posted on social media, “If you are one of the ones that called and we told you we have no space … we really have no space. We now have dogs where they shouldn’t be and will have to leave dogs outside.” A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “A lot of times, we have people calling saying they have a stray. We just have to, every day, check capacity is and what kennels we have open.”

June 2021/Killeen, Texas: KDHNews.com reported that a woman who fosters animals was trying to regain custody of six dogs who had been seized by authorities after they were allegedly abused by a person who was working for the fosterer. That person had reportedly been charged with cruelty to animals, and the six dogs were being held at the public animal shelter in connection to the case. No additional information was available. The report was later updated to clarify that the woman who fosters animals claimed that the dogs had been in a home to which they’d been adopted when they were seized. She claimed to have “the right to legally get them back if she decided they were not taken care of.”

June 2021/Davenport, Iowa: KWQC.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as King’s Harvest Pet Rescue, No Kill Shelter was full and turning away animals. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “We have people every day calling, saying they have kittens born outside and want us to take them, and we don’t have the room to do so.” Another shelter in the area was also “at capacity with animals,” according to the report.

June 2021/Jackson, Tennessee: JacksonSun.com reported that a public self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Jackson Animal Care Center was full and had no place to put more animals. According to the news story, the center also had 40 animals on a waiting list. A spokesperson for the facility reportedly acknowledged, “We’re tax-payer funded. We should be providing the tax-payers the service they want. Which would mean all the animals picked up in the city should come here.” However, according to the news story, “the intake rate is just too high.” The spokesperson also said that the facility lacked air conditioning in the dog housing area.

June 2021/Tulsa, Oklahoma: KJRH.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Skiatook Paws and Claws Animal Rescue was “backlogged on owner-surrender intakes” and had “a waiting list that is close to 100 names long.”

June 2021/Chester County, Pennsylvania: News.WTTW.com reported that “a dog brought to the U.S. from Azerbaijan that ended up with a family in Chester County, Pennsylvania began acting strangely. [He or she] later tested positive for rabies and was euthanized. At least 12 people were exposed to the animal.” The dog was reportedly “one of 34 animals—33 dogs and one cat” who had been imported by a self-professed animal “rescue” group. Pittsburgh.CBSLocal.com later reported that another one of the imported dogs, who had been placed under quarantine to be observed for symptoms of rabies, had “escaped from a Bridgeville-area home” and was lost in the area. No additional information was available.

June 2021/Sherman, Texas: KXII.com reported that a public animal shelter with “no-kill” policies doing business as Sherman Animal Shelter had announced that it was “beyond full, at 200% capacity.” Staff at the facility were reportedly “having to ask people with surrenders, to rehome animals themselves.” HeraldDemocrat.com reported earlier in the month that “[t]he Sherman Animal Shelter ceased accepting voluntary surrenders a few weeks ago and has not resumed them.” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said, “[W]e are getting a lot of reasons for the owner surrenders. Some of them are that people are moving into a place that doesn’t accept animals, and then just others saying that the dog isn’t theirs.” Other area shelters were reportedly also full.

June 2021/Jackson, New Jersey: Bronx.News12.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” housing mostly wolf-dog hybrids and doing business as Howling Woods Farms was accused by former workers of failing to feed and care for animals adequately. According to the news story, “Internal messages show the farm’s president, Michael Hodanish, directs the staff to only feed the wolf-dogs every other day, and sometimes not at all for days in a row. After Jackson police came to Howling Woods in February to investigate possible animal cruelty, Hodanish told the employee Facebook group that unless the whistleblower came forward, he might keep the farm ‘closed during the week indefinitely.’ Hodanish told the staff that police knew details ‘only the people in this group would be aware of,’ including ‘that I wasn’t feeding the animals every day.’” After the “rescue” was closed for a week, workers reportedly returned to find “animals they say looked very thin, some digging through the garbage. Gates were left wide open, and the animals’ water bowls water were frozen solid.” Three former employees had sued the group and Hodanish “alleging wrongful termination and other issues.” No additional information was available.

June 2021/Big Spring, Texas: NewsWest9.com reported that a public animal shelter operating as a self-professed “no-kill” facility and doing business as Big Spring Animal Shelter was one of three area animal shelters that had “announced they were going to start turning away people who bring in cats or dogs because there is not enough room for them.” According to the news story, “Since [Big Spring Animal Shelter] became a no-kill shelter two years ago, there has been an influx in stray dogs.” Staff at a nonprofit self-professed “no-kill” shelter in the area doing business as Happy Day Humane Society reportedly said its facility had 200 dogs on site and “a litter of puppies is left outside the gate just about every day.”

May 2021/Harlingen, Texas: ValleyCentral.com reported that a public animal shelter with “no-kill” policies doing business as Humane Society of Harlingen had been “finding abandoned animals outside its shelter daily.” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said, “In the last two weeks it’s been at least 30 to 40 animals that have been abandoned outside of our shelter door.” Recently an empty box was found outside the facility with a note saying it contained kittens the owner was unable to care for. Workers reportedly searched and “found three kittens hiding in a broken down emergency generator,” but the number of kittens dropped off wasn’t known. The spokesperson for the facility said, “We want to take in all of these animals, we wish we could, but we simply have no space.”

May 2021/Harlingen, Texas: ValleyCentral.com reported that a badly neglected cat had died unassisted at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Murphy’s Safe Haven. According to the report, the cat had originally been picked up by an animal control officer, who took him to a public animal shelter doing business as Palm Valley Animal Society. Even though professionals there reportedly determined that euthanasia was the most humane option, the cat was picked up by the “rescue” group, which claimed on social media that he had been “shot in the abdomen, ears stabbed, and had a huge anus ‘as if he was sodomized.’” He was treated at a veterinary hospital. According to the report, “While the cat did suffer from horrible neglect, veterinarians do not believe [he] had been sodomized or shot.” After he was released from the hospital, a spokesperson for the “rescue” group reportedly said in a social media post that she “checked on” the cat the next morning and found that he had died, alone and without veterinary care, overnight. No additional information was available.

May 2021/Hart County, Kentucky: WYMT.com reported that more than 80 dogs had been removed from a property that had “first started out as a rescue operation, but the individual … became quickly overwhelmed.” A spokesperson for a public animal shelter with “no-kill” policies doing business as Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society reportedly said the shelter had removed 25 animals but was “full” and couldn’t help any more. A nonprofit group reportedly removed another 42 animals, but “[t]here were approximately 13 to 15 left that we still have to go up and get those, but it’s really hard when you’re … already a full shelter with no kennel space whatsoever,” the shelter spokesperson said. WHAS11.com reported, “More than 80 dogs were rescued and 28 of them were severely neglected,” and that criminal charges were “expected to be filed.” No additional information was available.

May 2021/Sunrise, Florida: NBCMiami.com reported, “Police have recovered dozens of cats,” including dead animals, from the home of “Michelline Joy—who works with several animal rescues—[and] was hoarding the cats inside the home and starving them.” A spokesperson for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Saving Sage Animal Rescue Foundation, where Joy apparently volunteered, reportedly said, “They’re in the ceiling. They’re in the walls. They’re in the ducts. They’re in closets. Every room had cats.” According to the report, “She also claimed some of the cats were cannibalizing the dead bodies of the other cats. ‘That was their only food source.’” WSVN.com reported, “The cats were either found dead or struggling to survive after, officials said, they were abandoned for weeks and possibly months. . . . As of Tuesday night, a total of 10 cats were found dead and 38 were rescued. On Wednesday, three more felines were rescued from the apartment.” A spokesperson for a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Operation PAW, where Joy apparently also volunteered, said, “No food, there was urine in the water bowls and at least one of the cats died within the last 12 hours and was eaten halfway down. I still can’t process what I saw.” WSVN.com later reported that “10 cats were found dead inside, and at least 50 others were found in desperate need of food, water and medical attention.” News.Yahoo.com reported that Joy “also ran her own rescue group called Love is Feral.” The investigation was apparently ongoing. WSVN.com later reported that Joy (who evidently also goes by the name Michelline Toulouse) had “been arrested on a theft charge that, investigators said, is related to her work as an animal rescuer.” Security footage from the office of a self-professed animal “rescue” with which she volunteered reportedly “showed Toulouse stealing nearly $300 from a cash drawer. Toulouse also faces a charge of criminal mischief.” No additional information was available about the animal neglect, starvation, and abandonment allegations.

May 2021/Portland, Oregon: OregonLive.com reported that the operators of a facility described in court documents “as a training, boarding, rescue and daycare” for animals and doing business as Woofin Palooza, LLC, had been charged with more than 150 counts of animal neglect. (See the August 2020/Portland, Oregon, entry below for more details.) According to the report, “Tori Head and Samantha Miller both face 157 counts of second-degree animal neglect, 13 counts of identity theft and 15 counts of second-degree forgery … The charges come several months after Multnomah County Animal Services seized nearly 120 cats and dogs from Woofin Palooza. Investigators found unsanitary and overcrowded conditions in the facility, as well as evidence that the owners gave false documentation of animals’ vaccines, according to court documents. Many animals from the facility also got sick and died, court documents said.” A complaint was reportedly filed “after a customer adopted a dog on June 20 and had to take the animal to a veterinary hospital the next day because she had distemper. The dog was euthanized a few days later, and the customer reported the disease and death to the county animal services department. The department received six other complaints about Woofin Palooza during the month of July.” In August, authorities “executed a search warrant at Woofin Palooza, seizing 65 cats and 52 dogs. A veterinarian who helped search the facility noted that cats were housed in cramped kennels or spaces, and dogs were in overcrowded areas without spaces to use the bathroom away from their bedding or food, according to court documents. The veterinarian said many animal enclosures had urine and feces on the floor, and soiled kennels were stacked on top of one another, allowing urine and feces to run into other kennels. The veterinarian also noted that young animals with immature immune systems were housed with adult animals, raising the risk of spreading infectious diseases and unwanted pregnancies, according to court documents. … Investigators also allege that vaccine records Head and Miller provided for adopted animals were fraudulent, bearing the signatures or names of various veterinarians. Head and Miller are scheduled to appear in court July 16.”

May 2021/Inverness, Florida: ChronicleOnline.com reported that workers and volunteers at a public animal shelter had been attacked on three separate occasions by three dogs who had been seized from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Out of the Box Animal Rescue Inc. (See the March 2021/Floral City, Florida, entry below for more details.) A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said that the “rescue” was “known for” taking dogs from animal shelters after they had been deemed by professionals to be too dangerous for adoption. According to the report, “The attacking dogs were later euthanized after a judge agreed to the county’s request to award it custody of 43 dogs, a pig and three chickens seized in January from Out of the Box, a Floral City rescue run by Robert Schweickert Jr. Schweickert’s attorney is appealing the ruling.” A hearing date was set for that appeal.

May 2021/Rogersville, Tennessee: TimesNews.net reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Hawkins County Humane Society had been warehousing dogs and turning away animals when the shelter was full. The facility, which is partially funded with public monies, reported that several dogs had been there for extended periods. A 2-year-old dog called Lucia had been at the facility for more than half of her life. She was reportedly “showing more jealousy and aggression, especially to strangers.” Another two-year-old dog, called Jack, had also been warehoused there for more than half of his life. An elderly dog called Champ was described as “very food aggressive.” A 2-year-old dog called Will reportedly exhibits “some aggression to strangers and some other dogs.” Other dogs were described as “anxious.” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said, “A citizen may not be allowed to leave an animal at the shelter when it is full.”

May 2021/Michigan City, Indiana: WhatsNewLaPorte.com reported that 21 cats had been left in four cages overnight at a limited-admission facility doing business as Michiana Humane Society. According to the report, “The person who surrendered the cats left a note saying that they had run out of options due to failing health and loss of their home.” According to the facility’s website, it does “not always have a cage or kennel available” and “may need to put your pet on a waiting list.” It also has a suggested surrender fee of $35 per animal.

April 2021/Church View, Virginia: WYDaily.com reported that approximately 12 dogs had died in a fire at a home being used as a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Pit Road K9 Rescue and Sanctuary. According to the report, “Only three of the around fifteen dogs sheltered through Pit Road K9 Rescue and Sanctuary dogs survived, with two currently at the vet receiving treatment for smoke inhalation.” The cause of the fire was under investigation.

April 2021/Whitney, Texas: KCENTV.com reported that authorities had found more than 50 dogs and puppies at a home described by investigators as “dilapidated, trash-filled and feces-covered.” According to the report, “Investigators had to wear hazmat suits and respirators due to the high levels of ammonia” at the residence, where dogs were found “spread throughout the home and in crates outside.” Homeowner Linda Kennemore reportedly “said she [had previously] tried contacting animal control for help, but to no avail … the initial conversation took place in January 2020 when she had 22 dogs on her property, five of them were her own, the rest the product of being dumped.” A spokesperson for the community’s animal shelter, doing business as the Humane Society of North Texas, which apparently recently removed some animals but allegedly left approximately 50 dogs at the residence, “said the reason they left some dogs behind had more to do with capacity at their facility …. ‘[W]e pulled what we had the capacity to pull with the understanding that we would be coming back,’” she said. The facility had reportedly “worked with numerous local rescues in Hill County [and] gave them permission to pull as many cute dogs as possible.” Authorities reportedly said that dogs at the property were “infested with fleas and suffered from varying skin issues and hair loss due to the unsanitary living conditions. The dogs also were afflicted with numerous types of intestinal parasites including hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Many of the females were pregnant or had recently given birth. The moms and babies, the youngsters and the aged were all covered in feces with nowhere to escape this torment of living in deplorable conditions–parts of which included approximately 3 feet of compacted urine and fecal matter.” A spokesperson for the community’s animal shelter reportedly “said they will continue to work with Kennemore and to pick up the rest of the dogs when capacity allows.” A nonprofit animal adoption group was reportedly trying to “raise money for vetting 50 dogs and to help Kennemore get back inside her home.” A spokesperson for the group reportedly said authorities had “made things worse” by leaving animals at the residence. “This is not your normal hoarding situation because this is someone willing to hand over the dogs because she’s overrun by stray dogs that have bred multiple times,” she said. No additional information was available.

 April 2021/McCracken County, Kentucky: WPSDLocal6.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 neglected animals at the home of self-professed animal “rescuer” David Howery. According to the report, “McCracken County Detective Sgt. Benny Kauffman said the animals were sent to Howery’s home over time to be adopted out to other people, but that never happened. Howery also had an outstanding bench warrant from a previous animal cruelty conviction in Adair County, Kentucky. … The animals include 65 to 70 dogs, 26 goats, 12 chickens, eight turtles, two horses, two pigs, and one pony. Animal control personnel discovered cats on the property Thursday. Several of them were alive, but several others were dead.” Howery was reportedly facing 25 counts of cruelty to animals. A spokesperson for a nonprofit group that assisted authorities with the seizure reportedly “described the scene as terrible. ‘We have broken limbs, we have respiratory issues, eye issues, several that are so emaciated that there’s no muscle tone left,’ [he said]. ‘They’re having a hard time walking, standing, just from being starved.’” According to the report, “Flies and feces were everywhere on the property. Detectives and rescue group members said conditions were worse inside and behind the home. Crates were filled with clumps of sawdust and feces and dogs.” A volunteer who was helping care for the seized animals reportedly said that most of the female dogs were pregnant and that “[s]ome of the dogs have some bite marks on their faces where they’ve been in fights and stuff, so it’s pretty sad.”

 April 2021/Spring Brook, Wisconsin: WEAU.com reported that 15 cats and kittens had been found shot to death. A spokesperson for the area animal shelter reportedly said that “it appeared someone had abandoned the 33 cats on the side of the road with a pile of cat food, then someone shot at them.” Eighteen cats and kittens who were found alive were taken to the facility, which is a self-professed “no-kill” shelter with restrictive intake policies that states on its website, “All owner surrenders are approached on a case-by-case basis. Many factors impact our ability to help, including: the space available at our shelter; the care needed for the animal(s) you are looking to surrender; and the adoptability of the animal(s). Being a no-kill shelter, space is sometimes an issue and given limited resources, we are not always able to help.” Authorities were investigating the shootings, but no suspects were identified. It was later reported that the bodies of two more dead kittens had been found in the same area. Six more live cats were also found and taken to the shelter, and two additional live cats were seen but couldn’t be captured.

April 2021/Scott County, Mississippi: FOX17.com reported that a nonprofit Tennessee group had removed nearly 50 dogs from what was described as “a makeshift rescue in Mississippi,” where an elderly woman had reportedly “been taking in strays and homeless dogs for years.”   According to the group, many of the animals “were kept in outdoor enclosures and some had been tethered to chains.” Some animals reportedly “had skin and eye conditions, as well as other health problems like external parasites.” No additional information was available.

April 2021/Walnut Hill, Florida: WKRG.com reported that authorities and nonprofit groups were “stepping in” after more than 80 dogs were found hoarded by Patty Gentry, who was described as a “foster.” According to the report, the animals were “living in deplorable conditions. The photos show floors covered in feces and several dogs in cages.” A county spokesperson reportedly said that “animal control is working on the animal wellness case but could not comment further.” No additional information was available. WEARTV.com reported, “While the investigation in Escambia County continues, the dogs remain on the property.”

 April 2021/California City, California: TurnTo23.com reported that a dog who had been transferred from an animal shelter to a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Ace of Hearts, Inc., had been seriously injured in an attack at a residence where he was being fostered. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that the dog had been left alone in the side yard of a “tiny home,” and when the foster caregiver returned, she found that he had sustained “a knife wound all the way down his spine … along with a broken leg and hip.” He was taken to a veterinary hospital for treatment, where he was reportedly “fighting for his life [and] vets say that … chances are likely that he may never walk again.” Authorities were investigating, but no suspects were identified.

 April 2021/Jeffersonville, Kentucky: WTVQ.com reported that authorities had seized more than 200 dogs and cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Caring About Treasured Strays after they were found in conditions described as “horrible.” The owners of the “rescue,” Renee Ann and William Brian Zaharie, were both “charged with second degree cruelty to animals.” WKYT.com reported, “Hundreds of dogs and cats were found stuffed in small cages in tiny trailers with no heat or air conditioning.” A spokesperson for a nonprofit group that assisted authorities with the seizure reportedly said, “The amount of feces, urine, ammonia begins to build up very quickly, so we have several animals that are deathly ill. … They’re finding issues with lungs, improper spay and neuters. We have some at the vet at this moment, because they were improperly spayed and neutered, they lost a lot of blood.” He said cases like this one had been on the rise over the past year. “People trusted these people to take care of these animals, get them the proper care they deserve and ultimately find them new homes. Then the story breaks that they’ve been doing the opposite of this,” he said. WAVE3.com reported that 100 dogs and 150 cats had been seized from the property. A spokesperson for a nonprofit group that assisted in the seizure reportedly said the conditions were “terrible” and that they found “[f]eces everywhere, animals with urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, and they were rampant. It was a critical situation.” Also found were “deceased animals stored in freezers full of human food as well. … They were making money off the backs of animals that were being harmed,” he said.

 April 2021/Capon Bridge, West Virginia: Times-News.com reported that authorities had seized 102 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Love Shack Rescue. According to the report, “The action was taken following a several month investigation into the living conditions that Sheriff Nathan J. Sions said was not suitable for the dogs at Love Shack Rescue. He said the rescue failed to comply with directions to comply with state laws and county ordinances pertaining to its operation. … At least three decomposed dog carcasses were reportedly located on the property. Sions said the rescue consisted of multiple makeshift kennels set up in a wooded area, dogs being kept in cages inside outbuildings, in two separate houses and some in vehicles. … Sions also said the investigation and criminal charges will be sought. ‘Throughout all of this, a very disturbing fact is many of these dogs were being shipped to the Love Shack from several rescues located in more southern states,’ said Sions. The dogs were reportedly being shipped without any type of reference checks and on-site visits.” WVMetroNews.com later reported that the owner of the “rescue,” Sabrina Droescher, had been charged with 103 counts of cruelty to animals. According to the report, “Police said [a] search of the property led to the discovery of a total of 21 dead dogs in various stages of decay, most dumped on the property in trash bags. Droescher told deputies she was burying dogs under concrete on the property and there were makeshift concrete pads located on the property.”

 April 2021/Union County, North Carolina: My FOX8.com reported that before a pit bull “violently attacked a carriage horse and driver over Easter weekend,” he had been adopted from a public shelter with “no-kill” policies doing business as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. According to the report, “The attack was caught on video and posted to YouTube. It shows a dog repeatedly attacking a carriage horse at Cane Creek Park as kids screamed in the background. The carriage driver suffered serious injuries and will need to have surgery. The dog broke loose from [his or her] leash, the horse’s owner said, and [the dog ultimately] had to be put down,” evidently because of injuries sustained when the horse kicked frantically during the attack. The dog had reportedly been adopted in 2019 at an adoption event at a mall. No additional information was available.

 April 2021/Piedmont, West Virginia: AMP.NewsTribune.info reported, “Two area individuals who allegedly run an animal rescue have come under fire recently due to accusations of ‘flipping’ animals for profit and neglecting the animals in their care. Corallum Louk and Rodney Louk operate Louk Bully Daze Animal Assist and Rehoming, a group that has apparently changed its name multiple times and regularly started new Facebook pages.” Posts on social media reportedly “showed Corallum Louk stating that puppies in their care had died of heart attacks and one had been attacked by a neighboring dog. Another conversation shows her saying that a beagle who had cherry eye, a condition that requires medical treatment, was normal and okay. There were also pictures of animals in the Louks’ possession that appeared to be in desperate need of veterinary care, and a post where the Louks seemed to be breeding and selling animals. … Mineral County Animal Control warden Missy Kidwell confirmed to the News Tribune that she had visited the site and observed the animals. Kidwell noted that [a dog named] Loki was in bad shape and had no evidence that he had been seen by a vet. She said the Louks had been trying to treat the animal at home and it simply was not working, Loki was missing his hair and had severe skin irritation. Kidwell said the Louks had Loki for a month and he was not getting any better. She gave the Louks 24 hours to get the dog to a vet for care.” Another self-professed animal “rescue” reportedly purchased seven dogs in order to get them needed medical attention, including Loki. Other dogs the group purchased were “Layla, [a] white pit bull with several large tumors on her body; tumors so big they were causing major discomfort and pain for her. … Layla also had severely long nails that were causing her to have trouble walking. … [A dog named] Jordan was positive for giardia, had pretty nasty ear infections and super inflamed skin … [and] an older dog named Durwood, who had ear infections, parasites and has tested positive for anaplasmosis.” A local resident who had allegedly worked with the Louks said, “She isn’t rehoming animals in need; they are flipping for money. They are also breeding dogs.” She claimed the Louks “had a litter of pit bulls they sold for $300 and that most of the puppies died from Parvo after they were sold.” No additional information was available.

 April 2021/Tulsa, Oklahoma: KTUL.com reported that a dog had been warehoused for years by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Animal Aid of Tulsa, Inc. According to a spokesperson for the group, the dog was “a bit fearful of men” and had been “living in boarding” for the past four years. She reportedly said she worried that the dog “may start to become institutionalized. ‘They get used to living in crates and kennels and find that to be their life.’”

 April 2021/Batavia, Ohio: ABC6OnYourSide.com reported that a 10-year-old large-breed dog had been warehoused for seven years at a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as League for Animal Welfare. According to the group, the dog, who had been at the facility since November 2014, had “learned to be wary of humans he doesn’t know.” He also reportedly “has good days and bad—and sometimes, on those bad days … he just needs time alone” and would “need to go to a home without children.”

March 2021/Rowe, New Mexico: KRQE.com reported that the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office had confirmed that it was investigating allegations of animal hoarding at a self-professed wolf “sanctuary” where “[a]t least 50 dogs are kept in cages.” According to the report, a local woman “says the owners claim to be a wolf sanctuary, ‘They’re not wild wolves …. You can tell by looking at them, they’re like husky, border collie, [heeler] mixes,’ [she] said. She says they even solicit donations online to help take care of them. Court records show the owner has been slapped with at least 91 citations for failing to vaccinate the dogs, and improper care and maintenance. [The accuser] says once, while on the property she found a dog with a broken leg, and reported it to Las Vegas Animal Control. The report says the dog owner didn’t believe he needed to take him to the vet, because he performed an alternative medicine technique, and the dog was healed, but animal control insisted he gets the dog checked.” No additional information was available.

March 2021/Waco, Texas: FOX47News.com reported that a 2-year-old dog had been warehoused at an animal shelter with “no-kill” policies for half of his life. His owners had reportedly surrendered the dog, named Rusty, when he was a puppy. According to the report, “Rusty was placed in a foster home for two months and then was sent to a rescue in Idaho. Two months later, the rescue sent him back to Waco because he was not dog-friendly and they weren’t able to place him in a home. Over the next couple of months, Rusty became depressed and frustrated, which caused him to act out in his kennel and towards other dogs. In November 2020, Rusty was adopted, but a month later he was surrendered back to the shelter for being destructive.” Most recently, Rusty was again adopted after spending 419 days at the shelter. He was returned a day later by the adopters, who reported that he had bitten them. KXXV.com later reported that the dog had been moved to yet another shelter.

March 2021/North Smithfield, Rhode Island: ValleyBreeze.com reported that a 13-year-old blind pit bull named Sully had been warehoused at a public animal shelter with “no-kill” policies for more than half of his life. A woman who had worked with a self-professed animal “rescue” that had tried to find a home for the dog reportedly said that “volunteers at the shelter tried to find Sully a home, but attempts to adopt him out repeatedly fell through.” A city animal control officer reportedly said, “‘All I know is that he was adopted out a couple of times, and it didn’t work out. He was brought back, one time it was because he attacked another dog. Even as a blind dog he attacked another dog, and another time it was because [they] were moving and the people couldn’t take him.’ … [A] few months ago she tried to adopt Sully into a home, but those plans didn’t work out. Another plan to place him with one of the shelter’s volunteers also fell through, she said. Since then, she said, Sully has begun to show signs of his age and is losing his remaining senses. Sully, she said, is ‘failing fast,’ prompting the shelter to schedule a vet appointment last week to see what’s best for him.”

March 2021/Burlington, North Carolina: CharlotteObserver.com reported that an 8-year-old dog named Jake had been through the revolving door of a public animal shelter with “no-kill” policies four times in three months. He was first found locked in a crate at a residence where he had reportedly been “trapped in a home for days with his dead owner.” A spokesperson for the shelter reportedly said that “Jake was quickly adopted, but came back a few weeks later, after the family lost their home …. He was later taken in and returned by two foster homes … because Jake ‘does not care for cats and they had cats.’” Jake was put back up for adoption.

March 2021/Sinton, Texas: KRISTV.com reported that 14 dogs had died in a fire at a home being used as a self-professed animal “rescue.” According to the report, “at least one dozen other animals were taken to other shelters and the local veterinary clinic.” KIIITV.com reported that at least nine dogs had “burned inside of … cages inside of the home,” and FOXSanAntonio.com reported that “animals were burned inside cages outside and inside the house.” KRISTV.com later reported that an unspecified number of dogs had escaped the home and were roaming the area, including some who were reportedly extremely fearful of humans. No additional information was available.

March 2021/Branford, Connecticut: Patch.com reported that a cat and four kittens had been found unconscious in a sealed plastic container on the side of a road. According to the report, “Good Samaritans resuscitated the animals” and an animal adoption group was called. The group reportedly said that upon intake, one of the kittens had already “died and the mother was thought to be blinded due to a lack of oxygen.” The mother cat reportedly later regained her sight. A spokesperson for the community’s public animal shelter said that the facility “cannot take in every animal.” No additional information was available.

March 2021/Oxford, Mississippi: MississippiFreePress.org reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Mississippi Critterz Animal Rescue, partially funded by public monies, had temporarily shut down after former employees alleged chronic “animal abuse and neglect.” According to the report, “The complaints included widespread medical neglect by the operator of the shelter, Jenn Petermann.” One former employee said “that Petermann would routinely deny sick animals the opportunity to be treated by a local veterinarian due to the cost of treatment. As a result, [the employee said], many animals were given subpar medical treatment at the shelter and would often suffer long and miserable deaths.” Another said “that she once begged management to treat a dog that had begun to deteriorate at the shelter despite having entered in a reasonably healthy state,” but her request was denied. She reportedly “also recalled an instance when a kitten was denied the emergency care [the animal] needed for a ruptured eyeball. The former employee of Critterz alleged that Petermann reprimanded a volunteer who had taken the ailing feline to a veterinarian in secret. Once ordered [to], the volunteer returned with the untreated animal, where [the former employee] says [the animal] died days later. ‘I’d call it a kill shelter in a different way,’ said [the former employee], who started at Mississippi Critterz in August 2020. ‘We didn’t euthanize for time and space, but we also didn’t provide medical care, so [animals] died on their own.’” At one point, Petermann reportedly started to hide sick animals, including a cat, who was later found dead in a closet. According to the report, a former employee said she “opened [a storage] closet, and I just about threw up because I was hit in the face with not only the smell of dead cat, but cooking dead cat.” The cat was reportedly found dead “in a crate on a heating pad. ‘Turned on. And he was left there to die in a closet,’” she said. One of the former employees described “stacks and stacks of cat cages in the building. Full of sick cats.” A veterinarian who visited the facility said she was “shocked to see the conditions and lack of order at the shelter. … ‘Every run had too many dogs in it. Poop smeared everywhere. All of their water was contaminated with feces.’” According to the report, “With the shelter closed for the foreseeable future, it is unclear what steps local leaders will take to care for unhoused animals currently living in Oxford and Lafayette County.”

March 2021/Lake Odessa, Michigan: WZZM13.com reported that two dogs had been warehoused for eight years at a self-professed “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary. One of the dogs was 9 years old and suffered from arthritis. The other was 10 and reportedly had allergies. Both had reportedly “been shown multiple times during adoption visits, but other dogs are usually chosen or it’s not a good fit with the adopters’ other [animals in the household].”

March 2021/Cape Coral, Florida: ABC-7.com reported that five cats had been left in carriers outside a publicly funded turn-away facility doing business as Cape Coral Animal Shelter. According to a public post by the facility, “those on our waiting list … will now have to wait a bit longer.” On its website, the facility states that animals won’t be accepted unless they meet certain criteria. They must pass behavior tests, test negative for certain common diseases, and more. It also charges fees to accept animals: $50 per cat and $100 per dog.

March 2021/Floral City, Florida: ChronicleOnline.com reported that Robert Schweickert, the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Out of the Box Animal Rescue Inc., “and the nonprofit itself are barred from owning any animals, were ordered by the court to hand over what animals they had, and were denied from getting back the abused and neglected animals county sheriff’s animal control officers rescued in January.” (See the January 2021/Floral City, Florida, entry below for more details). In the order, Judge Bruce Carney reportedly cited the following:

  • “The sheriff’s office animal control unit supervisor testifying that dogs had no water, food, and had eaten the drywall and insulation out of the walls.
  • “A sheriff’s office animal control officer testified that some dogs kept indoors had no lights, no power, and no ventilation.
  • “The county’s animal services chief veterinarian testified that 20 dogs were underweight, 10 dogs were emaciated, and two dogs suffered from painful infected wounds caused by shocking bark collars, two dogs suffered from painful, untreated ear infections, 18 dogs had heartworms which is life threatening if not treated, one dog needed hospitalization, dozens of dogs had dirty hair coats, feces in their fur, and smelled bad because of inappropriate care.”

According to the report, “The veterinarian also testified 13 dogs had orthopedic disease, nine were dehydrated and needed IV fluid, and eight dogs had viral and bacterial upper respiratory ailments because of their living conditions and poor air quality. In the county’s request of Carney, the county described horrific scenes at Out of the Box including cage floors soaked in urine and feces and cages far too small for the animals. The county also described a mobile home in which dogs were locked, with floors covered in urine and feces and one dog locked in a bathroom with no windows and kept dark. Investigators also noted there were no food and water dishes in the mobile home and that the stench of urine was so strong animal control officers had to rescue the animals and exit the structure as quickly as possible. One dog was found in a walk-in freezer storage unit with no light [or] ventilated air, and the room was littered with feces and urine, according to the county request for an order against Schweickert.” The criminal prosecution of Schweickert would reportedly move forward and included “25 counts [of] animal cruelty and two counts of aggravated animal cruelty. He was also charged with dozens of counts of torment, deprive, cruelty to animals.”

March 2021/Aztec, New Mexico: KOB.com reported that two dogs and two cats had died in an apparent electrical fire at a home where animals were kept by a self-professed animal “rescue” reportedly doing business as Critter Rehoming Sanctuary. According to the report, the “rescue” owner said that an unspecified number of cats were missing: “She said a neighbor opened a window to let some of them out, but she doesn’t know how many made it.” No additional information was available.

March 2021/Tampa, Florida: TheNonprofitTimes.com reported that Albert Adams had again been charged with fraud. According to the report, “In 2018, Adams pled guilty to five felony counts in Hillsborough Circuit Court. The charges stemmed from his work as CEO of the nonprofit Soaring Paws, which provided airplane transport for abused dogs. . . . According to the Tampa Bay Times, a bank account set up for Soaring Paws showed payments for alcohol, fast food, flowers, furniture, haircuts, spas, veterinary bills and yard work. The account also showed $10,000 in Amazon payments and $24,000 transferred to a Capital One account. By pleading guilty in 2018, Adams had two charges against him stemming from registration and record keeping dropped. He was sentenced to a ten-year probation period and 50 hours of community service.” He was also ordered to pay restitution to two animal adoption groups. The latest felony fraud charges involved an alleged animal insurance scheme in which Adams filed “claims that netted him nearly $13,000 in reimbursement for medical procedures for two dogs that allegedly were not performed.” That case was apparently ongoing.

March 2021/Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Saltwire.com reported that four days after a woman took in a dog named Muffin Man to foster him for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Fly With Me Animal Rescue, the animal fatally attacked a small dog and injured three people who tried to stop the attack. According to the report, the 73-year-old foster caregiver “had just patted her newly acquired rescue dog and turned to walk away when [he] bit Oliver, the small bichon frise, in the midsection and refused to let go. [The foster caregiver] fought, struggled and screamed for help. But she couldn’t rescue Oliver from Muffin Man. ‘I couldn’t stop him. I couldn’t save him from himself, and in the end, I was left on the ground, broken and bleeding, holding on tight to a cold-blooded killer.’ One witness told police she was alerted to the attack by a woman in crisis, and when she came upon the scene she saw ‘what looks like a pit bull … holding down a small white dog. [The small dog] was ripped open and the brown dog wouldn’t let go.’” The small dog had to be euthanized because of the extent of the injuries he sustained. During the attack, the small dog’s owner was bitten “to the bone” on his hand. Another neighbor sustained two broken ribs and bites described in a police report as “‘with flesh peeled back’ on her upper thigh and what appeared to be a ‘full mouth bite’ on her left breast.” Muffin Man had reportedly been imported with 41 other dogs from a public shelter with “no-kill” policies doing business as LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta. According to the foster caregiver, she obtained records that she read after the attack. “‘It was his intake history from the shelter in Georgia and in there it did say that he was returned because he injured another dog in the home.’ The Oct. 5, 2020 report from LifeLine Animal Project of Fulton County, Georgia, notes Muffin Man ‘fixated on other dogs in kennels’ when he walked past, and was returned last July “for fighting with other dogs — injured other dogs in home.’” The foster caregiver said that no warning was given to her about the dog’s dangerous propensities when she agreed to foster him. A spokesperson for the city reportedly confirmed that Muffin Man had since been euthanized as part of a plea bargain agreement. The foster caregiver said that the last she had “heard from Fly Away Animal Rescue was when they threatened to sue her for breach of contract for allowing authorities to take Muffin Man after the attack.”

March 2021/Long Beach, New York: LIHerald.com reported that a woman had been arrested “after Long Beach police discovered a whimpering dog inside her van in freezing weather. . . . The temperature was approximately 29 degrees that night. … The dog was transported to a local shelter where [he or she] was in ‘obvious need’ of medical attention and subsequently transported to an animal hospital, police said. The operator of the van Luisa Montalvo of San Juan, TX., arrived at the scene and was arrested for a violation of New York State Agriculture and Markets Law section 353D, a violation for leaving an animal in a vehicle in extreme temperatures. Detectives executed a search warrant on the van and recovered evidence that the van was used in connection with transporting animals for a local animal rescue facility.” Montalvo was released on her own recognizance, and a court date was set. No additional information was available.

March 2021/Middleburg, Florida: AJC.com reported that a dog adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Georgia Animal Rescue & Defence, Inc. (GARD), had allegedly been handed over to the adopter in terrible condition. The adopter reportedly said, “Belle smelled awful. Her fur and claws were matted with feces. She had not been microchipped.” The adopter said she was told the dog was heartworm positive, but a veterinary examination also found that Belle had “an ear infection, a permanent eye infection which requires daily cleaning and medication, and the vet told [the adopter that] the dog was closer to 8 years old than 4 years old [as the group had advertised].” A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Agriculture reportedly said “[w]hile the Companion Animal division does not have any open complaints against GARD … the Inspector General’s investigation of the rescue is ongoing with several steps to complete before the investigation is closed.” According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic had increased “awareness of the problems in the dog rescue and breeding industry.”

February 2021/Darnestown, Maryland: WUSA9.com reported that two dogs had died in a fire at the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer,” who had also died. Four dogs who survived were reportedly “found in steel cages in the basement of the home.” According to the report, first responders “said ‘excessive storage’ and clutter in the home made their search [for survivors] difficult, and the house did not have a functioning fire alarm.” Friends reportedly said the homeowner “had operated NoVa Rottweiler Rescue League Incorporated” out of the residence. An electrical fault was found to be the cause of the fire. No additional information was available.

February 2021/Newcastle, California: ABC17News.com reported that 40 animals had died in a fire at a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as The Enchanted Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary, Inc. Twenty-five animals reportedly survived, and authorities were investigating the cause of the fire. Sacramento.CBSLocal.com reported, “Geese, ducks, and tortoises were among the animals that could not escape.” No additional information was available.

February 2021/Morgan Hill, California: MorganHillTimes.com reported that Ava Geddes, “who has been active in local volunteer animal fostering and rescue efforts over the years is charged with felony animal cruelty after police found more than a dozen dead or neglected cats in her home last summer, according to authorities.” Geddes was reportedly “fac[ing] two felony counts and one misdemeanor in relation to the feline corpses and unhealthy animals allegedly found in a June 2020 search of her home.” According to the report, a police officer responding to a call for a welfare check on Geddes “discovered a wasteland of cat carcasses, flies swarming throughout the residence and a pungent odor of cat urine and feces that could be smelled from outside.” After obtaining “a search warrant to conduct further investigation and seize the animals,” authorities entered the residence and “found more cages with cat corpses in various stages of decay, as well as feces, urine, fur and other debris on the floor, furniture and countertops throughout the home, the police report describes. Some living cats encountered inside the home appeared to be malnourished and scared of the officers. Many of the kennels did not appear to have receptacles for food or water for the animals. . . . Inside the home, officers observed ‘indescribable’ living conditions …. ‘Every single inch of the floor was covered in layers of feces, litter, trash, cats in different stages of decomposition.’… On their way upstairs, the officers ‘yielded in (their) tracks by a hill of feces’ on a stairway landing, [an officer’s] report continues. An upstairs bathtub was allegedly filled with dead cats. Some carcasses in a guest bedroom were so decayed that only skeletons remained.” Seven live cats were seized and transported to an animal shelter. Authorities were reportedly continuing to investigate “claims that Geddes has attempted to rescue or acquire more cats since she was charged with the animal abuse allegations in June. Geddes has been known in Morgan Hill as a supporter of stray animal care, and is a former board member of a nonprofit that supports the San Martin Animal Shelter and the county’s adoption programs. She has spoken at city council meetings in favor of more funding for the animal shelter’s spay/neuter efforts, and made a presence on social media in recent years as a rescuer of stray cats.” The prosecutor said he would “ask the judge to prohibit [Geddes] from owning or caring for cats as part of her sentence” if convicted.

February 2021/Laurel Hill, Florida: NWFDailyNews.com reported that authorities had seized 77 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Fyre Branch Rescue, including 47 birds, 14 pigs, 11 horses, three dogs, and two cats. According to the report, “animal control officers arrived at the Fyre Branch Rescue to find dead piglets and chickens in various states of decomposition and hogs standing in three feet of their own waste ‘feeding on the dead.’ [Authorities] described emaciated horses with open sores that had no clean water available and said horse skulls, jaw bones and cow horns were ‘scattered across the filthy property.’ . . . The owner of Fyre Branch Rescue goes by different aliases but is known in Okaloosa County jail and court records as Shandi LeBron.” She “has a lot of bad background in Texas and Louisiana,” according to a spokesperson for an adoption group that assisted with the seizure. LeBron was reportedly “adjudicated guilty in 2016 of cruelty to livestock” when she “managed a nonprofit that accepted wild horses rounded up by the federal government on property managed by the Department of Defense and U.S. Forestry Service. The horses were then either sold for a profit or sent to ‘kill pens’ for slaughter,” according to another nonprofit group’s spokesperson, who reportedly said in a news release, “She claims she is a ‘rescue’ and even peddles for donations, when her animals are living in squalor.” Authorities were reportedly “pursuing neglect charges and continuing [an] investigation to find out if the Fyre Branch Rescue owner is involved in horse flipping.”

February 2021/Giles County, Tennessee: WHNT.com reported that a private animal adoption group had “been called multiple times to ‘cat hoarding’ situations,” in the area. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that animal shelters in the community “don’t take cats,” and a recent hoarding case that it had handled involved an elderly couple that “did reach out for help, but because help is not readily available in the area they didn’t receive the help that they asked for.” No additional information was available.

February 2021/Candler County, Georgia: MetterAdvertiser.com reported that self-professed animal “rescuer” Vicki Buck “faces 74 arrest warrants for animal cruelty.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office reportedly said, “74 warrants were taken because of the 74 animals in ‘very unsanitary conditions. We saw violations with just about every animal on the property.’” The animals were reportedly voluntarily surrendered to an animal adoption group. According to the report, in 2019, Buck had been denied a permit to keep more than 20 animals at the property, and “[w]hen Buck applied for the permit in 2019, she reported having 63 dogs and cats, but then said she had rabies certifications for over 80 animals. Buck reported that most of the animals were rescues and many were senior pets. At the time, she reported that the dogs were housed in a 110’x60’ concrete block building and the cats were kept in a utility building with a kennel enclosure and roof on a concrete slab. When Sheriff’s Investigator Melvin Ivey went to inspect the premises as protocol for the permit application, he cited Buck with four citations because ‘he was alarmed by the conditions he saw …,’ according to County Attorney Kendall Gross. In that 2019 meeting, Gross said that Ivey ‘was unrestrained of his criticism in the way the animals were being cared for.’ … [T]he animals were reportedly standing in urine/fluid in the bottom of the pens.” MetterAdvertiser.com reported in 2019 that Buck had told county commissioners that she did “not have a definite count on the number of animals” at the property and was “affiliated with several rescues.” The investigation was ongoing.

February 2021/Chappell, Nebraska: KearneyHub.com reported that more than 40 cats and eight kittens had died in a fire at a residence where they were hoarded by a founding member of a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” group doing business as Nebraska Loves Cats. According to the report, the fire broke out at the home of “Michelle Tynan, one of three co-founders” of the group. As the home burned, Tynan said she “could hear the [trapped] cats crying.” Two surviving cats sustained burns and were taken to an animal hospital for treatment. Others reportedly escaped the blaze and “remain on the loose.” Tynan reportedly “said a number of the cats living at the residence had special needs, including a dozen that were blind.” According to the report, “The fire comes in the midst of a legal battle that Tynan is having with the city of Chappell. After a bench trial in December, Deuel County Judge Randin Roland found her guilty of a misdemeanor count of violating a city ordinance by harboring more than five cats over 4 months old in a residential zone.” A hearing date was set for the case.

February 2021/Kokomo, Indiana: FOX59.com reported that authorities had preliminarily  charged a 16-year-old with cruelty to an animal and carrying a handgun without a license after he was suspected of shooting a dog to death and leaving the animal’s body in a crate on the side of a road. According to the report, the dog’s owner was a family member, who told authorities that the dog had “attacked her face.” The 16-year-old and another relative reportedly told investigators “that they picked [the dog] up from the owner’s house at her request. They then attempted to contact several agencies to take [the dog] in but all refused because of his aggressive behavior, the suspects stated. The suspects then decided to take [the dog] into the county and release him to run wild. But when they attempted this, [the animal] became extremely aggressive, and the suspects feared he would hurt them or someone else if released …. So, the 16-year-old retrieved a handgun from the vehicle and quickly shot [the dog] while in [the] cage multiple times until he believed him to be dead. Both suspects left [the animal] in [the] kennel on the side of the road.” The investigation was apparently ongoing.

February 2021/Tewksbury, Massachusetts: LowellSun.com reported that “Nicole Hutcheon, who was arrested on animal cruelty charges last year after two dogs died in her care, will avoid jail time but be forbidden from owning any pets for three years while she is on probation.” According to the report, “Hutcheon was charged last year after an agency that fosters dogs in the area asked Tewksbury Animal Control to do a well-being check on a German shepherd Hutcheon was fostering for the agency, according to a press release. The agency requested that check on April 5, after Hutcheon stopped providing updates on that dog. According to a press release issued at the time of her arrest, an investigation determined two German shepherds died while in Hutcheon’s care, including the one she was fostering for the agency. That dog died of starvation, and Hutcheon did not report [the] death, according to a press release. Another German shepherd she had adopted also died in her care, according to a press release, and she tried to hide the remains of that dog. A third dog, a German shepherd puppy, was found in Hutcheon’s house and appeared to be underweight, according to a press release.”

January 2021/Amherst County, Virginia: WSET.com reported that 20 animals, including cats, parrots, and a dog, had died in a house fire at a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Sanctuary Farm Everlasting Care. According to the report, “sanctuary” owner Jody Bart “shares her home and the land around it with hundreds of rescued animals” and “hopes to rebuild.” No additional information was available.

January 2021/Godfrey, Illinois: KSDK.com reported that a dog had been warehoused for 11 years at a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Alton Area Animal Aid Association. The dog had reportedly been surrendered to the facility when she was 3 years old. According to the report, she developed a tumor in 2016, which is currently “the size of a cantaloupe,” she can’t be around “small children” or “other animals,” and she “will sometimes get sores on her body, which they believe is part of her allergy issues, and she tends to chew on them until they get infected.”

January 2021/Bryan, Texas: KBTX.com reported that authorities had charged a woman with cruelty to animals after she allegedly abandoned a dog she’d repeatedly tried to surrender to the community’s publicly funded animal shelter, which refused to accept the animal. According to the report, staff at the facility doing business as Bryan Animal Center “had an encounter with [the woman] before when [she] said she would just ‘dump the dog,’ since they wouldn’t take the dog in. . . . Staff at Bryan Animal Center were further interviewed and it was found that [the woman] had called Bryan Animal Center and … called in her dog as a stray and left the dog with them. When the microchip was scanned, staff found the contact number was the same as the caller. Staff called [the woman] back but she would not answer, a text was then sent to her phone advising her to pick up her dog. [The woman] told them she was at work and not able to get the dog. She said she could not care for the dog and asked Bryan Animal Center to keep the dog. Staff said the [center] could not keep the dog but gave her rehoming options. They then told [her] she would be cited if she didn’t pick the dog up and for lying about the dog being a stray. [The woman] came in to pick up the dog but told the staff she would [go] to Houston and dump the dog.” The dog was later found roaming on a resident’s property and was apparently admitted to the facility. It wasn’t reported why this public facility refused to help the resident and prevent the animal’s abandonment.

January 2021/Thacker, West Virginia: WSAZ.com reported that more than 75 dogs had been removed from a property after a woman who had been hoarding them died. According to a spokesperson for an animal adoption group that removed the animals with the help of authorities, “All dogs were located outside, 80 percent of these dogs were chained up.” According to the report, “The homeowner decided to care for the dogs that she came across, or were dropped off at her home, because she wanted to help the local shelter. ‘In this situation, the lady was concerned about the shelter not having the resources,’” the spokesperson said. Dogs were reportedly found “chained to trees and sticks and some roaming in a flood plain unable to escape the elements.” A veterinarian who examined the animals reportedly found that “some of them have issues with their hearts, several have been [overbred], several have tumors, large tumors,” according to the group.

January 2021/Cape Coral, Florida: NBC-2.com reported that a resident had been “attacked two times by two of his neighbor’s dogs” on the same day. His daughter told the outlet that “the dogs were left outside for two days with no sign of their owners. She said … dog attacks [are] becoming more common in her area.” The publicly funded animal shelter doing business as Cape Coral Animal Shelter is a self-professed “no-kill” facility. A spokesperson said it uses appointments and waiting lists before it will accept animals from residents who can’t or won’t care for them, common “no-kill” policies designed to keep animals out of shelters and exclude them from intake and outcome statistics. She said more dogs were roaming at large in the community and that “some people come in expecting to leave their dog at the shelter and go. [She] said to re-home your [animal companion] with the Cape Coral shelter, there is a process that could take more than a week. ‘We may not get back to you right away. It may take a few weeks,’” she said. No additional information was available.

January 2021/Floral City, Florida: ABCActionNews.com reported that authorities had seized 43 dogs, three hens, and a pig from the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Out of the Box Animal Rescue Inc., after they were found in conditions described as “deplorable” and “disturbing.” Sheriff Mike Prendergast reportedly said, “Under the guise of a rescue, these precious animals suffered in deplorable conditions because of one man’s refusal to provide the basic, minimum requirements of care.” According to the report, “Officials entered the property and inspected the living conditions of these animals. They discovered numerous violations, both civil and criminal, regarding housing and care of the animals on the premises. Violations on scene included: the failure to meet county ordinance regarding kennel space of 80 sq. ft. per dog required, several kennels left outside in the elements with no coverage while other small kennels were found with corrugated roofs and tarps wrapped around the entire kennel – drastically restricting the airflow to the animal, and kennels with wood or particleboard floors that were urine saturated, rotten, with large holes gaping open. Several dogs need medical care and were infested with fleas.” Officials reportedly said, “Some of the most disturbing conditions discovered included dogs locked inside bathrooms with no windows or lights, with urine covered floors. Sadly, one dog was found living in an old walk-in freezer type unit that doubled as a storage room. The unit was similar to the box of a moving van – completely metal, no windows, no electricity, and no ventilation. The door to the unit was closed and locked with the poor animal inside.” The county Fire Rescue Services’ Hazardous Materials Team reportedly also “responded to take air quality readings which will be forwarded for case evidence. The firefighter who took the readings attempted to enter without protective gear but had to come back out and put on Tyvek and full breathing gear due to the levels of ammonia in the buildings.” The group’s owner, Robert Allan Schweickert Jr., was arrested and charged with “25 counts of cruelty to animals with additional charges pending.” (See the June 2019/Citrus County, Florida, entry below for additional information about the “rescue.”)

January 2021/Colorado Springs, Colorado: KRDO.com reported that state authorities were investigating a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as New Hope Rescue, Inc., after receiving “complaints of neglect and cruelty.” According to the report, the “rescue’s” owner, Joann Roof, “was charged with animal cruelty in August 2020. . . . Roof was originally charged with three felony counts of animal cruelty after law enforcement said she failed to get three dogs proper medical care. Court records show two of the puppies related to the charges died days after their adoption. [Roof] was charged with the felonies because it was her second offense. … ‘The animals that are in her care are being transferred there by other organizations that are in desperate need of somewhere. They’re just overrun with animals,’ Animal Law Enforcement Director Jamie Norris said. ‘She’s taking these animals under the provision that they’re going to be well cared for and rescued out. And I don’t think that all of the other organizations are really aware of what’s going on.’” The investigation was ongoing. According to an earlier report, “Court affidavits reveal Roof is accused of failing to get two puppies the medical care they need before she adopting them out, resulting in their deaths. Kaiser, an Australian Cattle Dog/German Shepherd mix is one of those puppies adopted out to a Colorado Springs family in July 2020. The day he was adopted, Kaiser vomited, but New Hope Rescue staffers told the family he was fine, according to court records. Two days later, the family said they took him to the vet. The vet suspected he was in the early stages of Parvo and [quoted] them thousands of dollars in medical bills for treatment, according to the court records. The family decided to take Kaiser back to New Hope Rescue for treatment, but animal law enforcement investigators said Kaiser never received proper vet care and ended up dying just four days after his adoption. . . . Animal law enforcement said Roof previously lost her license but was able to get it back after paying fines and serving six months of unsupervised probation for the 2014 charges. Investigators say they are hopeful she won’t get that license back again.”

January 2021/Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania: WNEP.com reported that a dog who was in need of care and safety had been found tied to a parking sign outside a private facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. A worker found the animal by chance in freezing temperatures. The facility’s executive director reportedly said, “It was dark by that time. It was very, very cold. It was 24 degrees by that time, so we were very lucky that he stumbled upon him.” The dog was also suffering from “a skin condition that’s caused him to lose a lot of his fur, and the fur he does have was infested with lice.” According to the facility’s website, appointments are required to surrender an animal and there is a $100 fee to surrender a dog, more if the animal “is not fixed” or “needs to be taken in on the spot.” (See the October 2020/Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, entry below for more information about this facility)

January 2021/Burlington, North Dakota: KXNet.com reported that an elderly dog had been found after he’d evidently been abandoned. He was taken to a turn-away facility doing business as Souris Valley Animal Shelter, where a spokesperson said that a search of the facility’s system showed that the dog had been turned away the day before. She said the dog had evidently later been left “in freezing temperatures on the side of the road.” No additional information was available.

December 2020/Bossier City, Louisiana: KTBS.com reported that authorities were investigating conditions at a dog boarding facility doing business as A Dog’s Place after receiving a complaint about poor conditions. According to the report, “Sources told KTBS 3 News, there were about 60 dogs kenneled there at the start of the week. About half of those came from Caddo Parish Animal Services. Caddo’s dogs were boarded before being transported out of state to rescues and adoption. We’re told that Caddo removed its dogs before the Bossier authorities arrived.” A spokesperson for the city reportedly “said in a written statement, ‘Bossier City Animal Control was notified by an employee with the Caddo Parish Animal Shelter that there were dogs being housed in poor conditions at A Dog’s Place. Bossier City Animal Control officers observed unclean conditions at the facility, including feces on some of the animals.’” KTBS.com apparently interviewed “[w]orkers at a nearby business who’ve been inside A Dog’s Place [who] describe[d] an ‘awful stench’ when they ventured inside the front of the place.” The investigation was ongoing.

December 2020/Brookhaven, Mississippi: DailyLeader.com reported that area animal sheltering facilities, including the publicly funded one, were “full,” were “packed,” and had “no room” to accept animals. An animal control officer said that animals were being abandoned throughout the community and reportedly told the public that anyone seeing a dumped animal  “has to make a decision on what to do. ‘It’s up to them, but when they pick up a dog it’s going to be a challenge to get [the animal] to a rescue or shelter. I know it’s hard to keep passing them up, but it’s up to the people,’” she said.

December 2020/ Wyckoff, New Jersey: DailyVoice.com reported that New Jersey state authorities had filed a lawsuit asking a judge to shut down a self-professed animal “rescue” and service dog group doing business as Merlin’s Kids. According to the report, the state said the group’s owner, Janice Wolfe, “raised millions of dollars by falsely claiming an organization she founded that places rescue dogs as service animals is a charity … [and] unlawfully raised millions of dollars since 2008 without registering Merlin’s Kids as a charitable organization. . . . Meanwhile, tens of thousands of dollars characterized as donations went to hair styling, skincare products and artwork, along with a $10,000 purchase from a Lexus dealer. … There were also large cash withdrawals, as well as transfers to Wolfe’s personal accounts, among a host of suspicious payments that she was unable to explain.” Wolfe reportedly “bills Merlin’s [Kids] online as ‘a non-profit organization that transforms the lives of dogs by rescuing them from shelters.’” In a lawsuit, state authorities were reportedly “asking a judge for ‘the return of money unlawfully obtained from members of the public,’ along with civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs and an order “stopping the defendants’ unlawful practices.’ They’re also asking the judge to dissolve Merlin’s Kids, shut down its website, appoint a receiver, and permanently bar Wolfe from registering or operating any charity in New Jersey.”

December 2020/Hamden, Connecticut: FOX61.com reported that Donna Scirocco, who neighbors said “used to work to rescue animals,” had been arrested and charged with six counts of cruelty to animals after authorities seized 26 cats, six dogs, two squirrels, and a blind owl found hoarded in her home. Hamden Police Captain Ronald Smith reportedly said, “For approximately the last year Hamden Police have received numerous calls of a stench coming from” the property. When a search warrant was executed, animal control officers found “a blind owl kept in a very, very small cage. We found a dead woodchuck on the floor of the cellar. There was an American Eskimo dog that was brought out of the house in grave condition. It was unlivable for both human and animals. It was that disgusting.” A court date was set in the case.

December 2020/Newton, Iowa: NewtonDailyNews.com reported, “A Newton couple ha[d] been charged in the animal neglect incident in November where more than a dozen cats were removed from an abandoned property. . . . [L]ive and deceased cats … had been abandoned by their owners without food, water or adequate shelter since approximately Oct. 31. … All of the live cats were very skinny and officers could clearly see their ribs under their fur and see dirt or bugs around their face and head, even in the chilly weather, according to the report. Officers also found two deceased cats on the property and noted something had clearly been eating at their carcasses. Witnesses reported seeing the live cats eating the dead animals …. A licensed DVM performed examinations on all of the cats and determined three of the living cats were determined to be ‘emaciated,’ five were ‘very thin’ and two were ‘ideal.’ All 10 cats had ear mites and fleas. Of the two deceased cats, only one was able to be examined. The cause of death was ‘lack of nutrition’ followed by post mortem cannibalism. Jason and Tammy Breckenridge openly admitted the cats belonged to them. Jason Breckenridge said they left them at the residence when they moved out because they ‘did not know what to do with them.’” According to their websites, area animal sheltering facilities didn’t accept cats at all, were not accepting owner surrenders, or required appointments and fees to accept animals.

December 2020/Springfield, Illinois: WANDTV.com reported that a dog who had been adopted from a limited-admission facility doing business as the Animal Protective League had starved to death after he was left in an abandoned home when the adopters moved. According to the report, “[t]he property’s landlord, Shane Sullivan, said these tenants failed to pay rent for four months. … Sullivan said he sent several notices to the tenants and posted a notice of entry. Twenty-four hours later he entered the property. According to Sullivan, what he saw in the residence was a sight he will never forget. ‘I saw feces, trash like the dog had been eating anything it could,’ Sullivan said. ‘It was just a mess.’ In all the mess, Sullivan found a dog – 4-year-old Sii. ‘[Sii] starved for quite sometime. It didn’t happen overnight,’ Sullivan said. … Sullivan said upon finding Sii, he immediately contacted Springfield police. This case is still under investigation by Sangamon County Animal Control.”

December 2020/Middle River, Maryland: BaltimoreSun.com reported that the owners of a nonprofit group doing business as Colony Cats of Bird River and Beyond had “been sentenced to serve 60 days in prison and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to Animal Services after police found more than 220 cats, 74 of which were dead, in their Middle River home last year. Garriott J. Cox, 54, and Pamela J. Arrington, 52 … were found guilty on Nov. 11 of three of the 63 counts of animal cruelty and failure to provide food, drink and care.” (See the November 2019/Middle River, Maryland, entry below for details.) A judge reportedly “ordered the pair to be put on supervised probation for three years and prohibited from possessing an animal while on probation. And they must submit to an updated mental health evaluation and follow any recommended treatment.” According to the report, “Dead cats, found in varying states of decomposition, were stowed in coolers covered with flies, gnats and maggots in a shed on the property. The inside of Cox’s and Arrington’s home was covered in feces, urine and debris, with loose cats running around, police wrote in a report last year. … Arrington and Cox operated a trap, neuter, vaccinate and release program, a county program in which volunteers capture feral cats and have them vaccinated by Animal Services before they’re released. But instead of releasing the cats after they were neutered, Arrington and Cox would sell them to stores like PetSmart and PetCo, [Prosecutor Adam] Lippe said. ‘The ones that didn’t sell were left to die in cages,’ he said.”

December 2020/Wilson County, Tennessee: WKRN.com reported that an area animal adoption group “says they are seeing an alarming number of kittens thrown out of cars. [The group] says they have seen at least 12 incidents of cats being thrown from cars in recent months.” A witness reportedly took one cat to the group after seeing him being thrown from a moving car. The animal sustained “major trauma,” including damage to his spinal cord. He was receiving treatment. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that some kittens who had been taken in had “road rash on the face. It was always a back leg injury, so they tend to hit the ground in a certain way that’s indicative of how they were tossed. One was a whole bag. It was a Hefty bag and those were on the side of the road and somebody actually saw one of the kitties crawling out of the bag and we took the 4 of those in.” At the time of the report, the county’s public animal shelter stated on its website, “We do not accept owner turn-ins. We do not accept animals other than dogs.”

November 2020/Bristol, Connecticut: WFSB.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Tenderheart Rescue was “facing charges after police believe multiple kittens have died in care and that she was caring for them illegally. Four pages of an arrest warrant show the founder of Tenderheart Rescue, 30-year-old Abigale Jones, accused of practicing veterinary care without a license. … According to the arrest warrant, Jones denied having any sick cats, but then told police she had a kitten die of distemper, which is highly contagious. She admitted to police she ‘administers medications and fluids to her animals although it’s not always under a veterinarian’s direction.’ … In the warrant, a woman told police she adopted a kitten for $50 from Jones and [the animal] died a day later. A vet clinic in Wolcott also told police, ‘they have seen two of Tenderheart Rescue kittens and mentioned that they know of a few kittens that have passed away in her care.’” BristolPress.com reported that an investigator “also spoke to someone who said she purchased two kittens from Jones. One of them died shortly thereafter and the other, which the woman said Jones told her was 8 weeks old, was examined by a vet and found to be just over 6 weeks old, the warrant said. The animal that was examined had a fever and tested positive for an intestinal tract infection, according to the warrant.” A court date was set.

November 2020/Dallas, Pennsylvania: WNEP.com reported that a spokesperson for a selective-admission self-professed “zero kill” group doing business as Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge said that area animal shelters are often full and that so many dogs are abandoned by being thrown from moving vehicles that “we’re just used to it at this point.” A witness reportedly recently “saw [a] boxer mix get thrown from a moving vehicle and out into the street.” The spokesperson for the group said, “The dog chased the car for about a minute until he stopped and sat on the side of the road.” The group then admitted the dog.

 November 2020/Pueblo, Colorado: Chieftain.com reported that authorities had seized 78 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as AWR Cat Tails Rescue, Inc., and that its owner, Shelley McPherson, was charged with criminal neglect. According to the report, “Many of the animals displayed obvious signs of illness and in the days after the confiscation, two cats had to be euthanized and another died.” A spokesperson for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, which was caring for the animals, explained, “Our veterinary team found cases of upper respiratory infections and ringworm, and due to lack of proper isolation and quarantine, most of the cats were exposed. Additionally, several of the cats will need dental surgery.” The investigation was ongoing, and additional charges against McPherson were reportedly possible.

November 2020/Pearl River, Louisiana: NOLA.com reported that authorities had seized 45 dogs from an animal adoption group doing business as It’s a Grey Area Greyhound Adoption Group, Inc., and that its owner, Leslie Ezkovich-Tierney, was charged with 45 counts of cruelty to animals. According to the report, the animals were seized after sheriff’s deputies “found the dogs, covered in waste and suffering from malnourishment and dehydration. Several also had sores caused by being kept in kennels for 20 hours a day. The investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible, according to the [sheriff’s office] news release.” No additional information was available.

November 2020/Abilene, Texas: ReporterNews.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 35 cats and dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Paw Angel Animal Rescue. A news release issued by the city of Abilene reportedly revealed that “[t]he city has been investigating Paw Angel since Sept. 23 ‘when the City of Abilene Animal Services and Code Enforcement responded to a citizen complaint at the Paw Angel Animal Rescue about noise and smell,’ the release said. Upon initial investigation, Animal Services and Code Enforcement found approximately 75 dogs and 10 cats in the residential backyard.” Animal Services reportedly worked with adoption groups “to rehome the animals, the release said. [However], ‘[s]ince the initial investigation, Paw Angel Animal Rescue has continued to acquire animals.’” KTXS.com later reported that “rescue” owner Robert Sudbury had “reached a settlement with the City of Abilene” and would not be criminally charged in the case. He also reportedly “agreed to surrender two more cats … [who] the City said were ‘cruelly treated.’ In exchange, Sudbury will not have to pay any costs associated with the care of the cats.” Authorities reportedly called the living conditions for the animals “poor at best.” According to the report, “Sudbury said despite what happened this week, he will continue to help animals through rescue.”

November 2020/Columbia, Tennessee: WDBJ7.com reported that authorities had seized 50 dead and 23 live animals from a property where they had been hoarded by Carolyn Bauer, a self-professed animal “rescuer” who, according to authorities, “was collecting the animals from other rescues and telling them that she would transfer them elsewhere but would take them to her home instead.” According to the report, “The Maury County Animal Control Director told WTVF the case was the most egregious situation he has ever worked and that the animals were in the worst shape he’s ever seen.” A spokesperson for an animal adoption group that was caring for some of the survivors reportedly said that the group “had to groom every surviving animal because of the smell and mangled fur.” WSMV.com reported that a spokesperson for the adoption group said the survivors also had “highly, highly infected ears to the point we could barely touch them.” Many of the dead animals had reportedly been found trapped in cages at the property. According to a first responder with the animal services department, Bauer “seemed oblivious to the fact there were dozens of deceased animals in the home.” According to the report, “Bauer has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and surrendered the surviving animals.” NewsChannel5.com reported that “[c]ourt records indicate that Bauer has done this before.” Maury County Animal Control Director Jack Cooper said, “The defendant in this case, was actually arrested in Davidson County more than 10 years ago for a similar offense.”

October 2020/Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, Canada: CBC.ca reported that a cat who was being fostered for a self-professed “cat rescue group” had been killed by the foster caregivers. A witness reportedly testified in court that the 13-year-old cat, named Mittens, had been turned over to the group after her guardian died. She was then apparently sent to a foster home, where, according to the witness, “[foster caregivers] Anderson and Rossiter took a small axe and an empty bag into the bathroom, where the cat was. She said when the couple came out, there was now something in the bag that Rossiter was carrying, and the cat was no longer in the bathroom.” According to the report, “Anderson, 39, is charged with one count of injuring or endangering an animal and two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Rossiter … faces one count of injuring or endangering an animal and one count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. The one-day trial … began with testimony from the arresting officer, Const. Leon Sheppard, who presented two sets of photographs of the alleged crime scene. In them, he pointed to what he believed were blood stains on a bathroom floor.” It was later reported that Anderson and Rossiter had both been “convicted in provincial court … of injuring or endangering an animal. Charges of causing the cat unnecessary suffering were stayed.” A court date was set for sentencing.

 October 2020/Rising Sun, Maryland: FOXBaltimore.com reported that authorities had seized 45 live and two dead animals from the home of Crystal Romine, who ran a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Eden Rehab and Rescue. The animals were found in conditions described as “deplorable” and “included 17 cats, 3 dogs, 3 snakes, 1 guinea pig, 2 turtles, 1 tarantula, 2 birds, 13 goldfish, and 3 [betta] fish. The animals had limited access to fresh food and water.” The previous year, authorities had seized 63 animals from the “rescue.” (See the February 2019/Rising Sun, Maryland, entry below for more details.) Criminal charges were reportedly pending against Romine.

October 2020/Roanoke County, Virginia: WFIRNews.com reported that a Ram utility van that was transporting 80 dogs in 50 crates had crashed on a highway. According to the report, “The van was traveling from Texas to a ‘No Kill’ shelter in Pennsylvania. … One dog died as a result of the crash.” The accident reportedly occurred at 1:20 a.m. on an interstate highway. The surviving animals were taken to a veterinary hospital for care. The van driver was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries sustained. No additional information was available.

October 2020/Portsmouth, Ohio: WSAZ.com reported that an animal adoption group reported that it had been “told about a box of kittens found abandoned and dead along” a highway. According to the report, “it’s just the latest instance of animal cruelty the shelter says they are noticing an increase in.” A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “People come in and they come in at the last minute and say, ‘I’ve got these cats. I can’t keep them.’ If we don’t have room, it’s the alternative they either dump them or they take them to a bad place, or they get killed or something like that.” Full shelters in the area “cannot bring in new animals in need,” she said. Animals adopted during the COVID-19 lockdown were also reportedly being returned or abandoned.

October 2020/Amarillo, Texas: NewsChannel10.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Amarillo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had been turning away animals. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that area shelters were full and “forced to turn people away who bring in pets. ‘We’re seeing really an increase … we sometimes have to turn people down because we’re so full right now that we have to you know, end up turning people down.’ … There has been an increase in the number of pregnant dogs and cats, so shelters have been receiving many anonymous drop offs in [litters], only making their job more difficult. ‘Like I said, we have people call us constantly about three or four times a day, with [litters] of kittens being born under you know sheds in people’s backyards. Puppies being born, they don’t know what to do with them. . . . So, we’re seeing a lot of people bringing in pets, trying to bring in pets or strays that they find, and we’re just, we just get sometimes up to capacity,” she said. The city’s public shelter had recently been in the news after allegations about inhumane conditions at the facility and reports that it had been turning away animals “to keep the numbers looking good on paper.”

 October 2020/Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania: WNEP.com reported that a private facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Griffin Pond Animal Shelter had announced that it was housing nearly 200 cats, almost double its capacity, and would “no longer be accepting the surrender of cats until further notice.” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said it had “cats in pop-up cages throughout the shelter.”

October 2020/Tulsa, Oklahoma: KTUL.com reported that 19 pit bulls had been removed from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Underdog American Pitbull Terrier Sanctuary, Inc., after the owner was hospitalized. According to the report, the animals “were living on a five-acre plot of land, formerly used as an RV park.” Photographs included in the report showed a severe build-up of trash around the property, some dogs housed in nonoperational vehicles, one dog hiding underneath a dilapidated trailer, and one dog evidently kept in a shopping cart.

October 2020/Rio Rancho, New Mexico: KOB.com reported that four dogs had been left outside a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Watermelon Mountain Ranch over a period of a few months, including puppies who had been “thrown” over the main gates, according to a spokesperson for the facility. One of the animals had been left in a crate with a note that said, “She’s been neglected. She’s been starved. She’s in poor health. Someone please help her,” according to the spokesperson. The facility reportedly requires appointments before it will accept animals. According to its website, there’s also a fee required and additional restrictions on accepting dogs: “Your animal(s) must be in good health with current vaccinations complete with verifiable shot records; Your animal(s) will NOT be accepted if aggressive, feral or in poor health; Please note, we are a limited admission facility and can only accept animals based on space availability.”

October 2020/Colleton County, South Carolina: WalterboroLive.com reported that a public animal shelter doing business as Colleton County Animal Shelter—which has restrictive policies, including only accepting animals “by appointment on a space available basis” and charging fees—“had a busy weekend” after three homeless or abandoned dogs had been hit by cars in the community. One resident said that neighbors told her that a dog had been “dropped off” in a neighborhood about a week before she was found hit by a car. “As I was coming home from work, I saw something in the road flopping around. I hoped it wasn’t a dog, but it was. … She couldn’t get her back end up. She had no collar and was skinny. … I don’t know why no one had helped her before this,” she said. After the dog was taken to the shelter, the resident said that “she was even more shocked to discover that the dog that she helped was pregnant because the animal was so skinny. Every car that passed would make her tremble. On the roadside, she had a seizure because of the shock and stress. She had a broken pelvis, and the injury caused her to go into labor. But because of the pelvis injury, she couldn’t birth the puppies. She had to have medical treatment to deliver them, [and] two of [the puppies] died. One survived, but the mother was in no condition to nurse.” Another dog had been found with such severe injuries that he or she had to be euthanized. A third dog was found at a garbage dump. The woman who found the dog said, “I was going to the dump when I saw something on side of road. At first, I thought the dog was dead, but then I saw [the animal] lift [his or her] head. … When I approached the dog, I saw that [the animal] was cold, so I covered [the dog] with a blanket and called 911 for animal control. The dog was bleeding and crying, so I moved [him or her] into my warm car and sat with [the animal] until animal control came. We discovered that the little dog had a broken jaw.” The dog was apparently receiving medical treatment.

 October 2020/Indianapolis, Indiana: TheIndianaLawyer.com reported that the Indiana Court of Appeals had decided that “[a] south side Indianapolis animal shelter must face a lawsuit from an adopter whose child was attacked by a dog with a history of aggression. … In 2014, the Clinton County Humane Society received a dog named Grieg who was surrendered by his owner for not getting along with another dog in the household. Within the following year, Grieg was adopted out and returned by three separate owners, all of whom experienced aggression from the dog. According to one adopter, Grieg lunged and bit her 2-year-old son, causing the child significant injuries. After that event, Grieg was surrendered to Marion County Animal Control, where a second adopter returned Greig after [the dog] also lunged at him. Grieg’s third adopter, Mark Brown, returned the dog to the Southside Animal Shelter after [the animal] attacked Brown’s 6-year-old daughter, Brooke, who sustained injuries to her face that required surgery. … The Browns then sued Southside, Clinton County Humane Society, Indianapolis Animal Control Services and MCAC, alleging they were negligent. Brown also added claims that Southside committed fraud and constructive fraud when it represented that Grieg’s history was unknown on the adoption release.” The appeals court verdict reportedly overturned a previous court’s decision and determined “that Southside, as the owner and/or keeper of Grieg, had a duty to inform the Browns of Grieg’s ‘vicious characteristics’ so far as it knew, or to the extent such knowledge was ascertainable by the exercise of reasonable care.” Adopting out dangerous dogs is a common scheme used by facilities that prioritize “live-release” statistics over the welfare of individual animals as well as the community’s safety.

 October 2020/Jones County, Mississippi: Leader-Call.com reported that “[O]ne-time animal rescuer Miranda Kittrell will spend six months in jail, have to pay $3,800 in fines and serve 380 hours of community service after she was found guilty of 38 counts of animal cruelty in Jones County Justice Court on Thursday afternoon. Judge Noel Rogers handed down the sentence, one of the most severe ever meted out in Jones County. In addition, she will have to get a psychological evaluation and counseling at her own expense and is banned from owning a domesticated animal for 15 years. … Kittrell was charged in September after 38 dogs were found in horrid conditions on her Jones County property.” (See the August 2020/Seminary, Mississippi, entry below for more details.)

September 2020/Concord Township, Ohio: Cleveland.com reported that authorities had seized 161 live and nearly 50 dead cats from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Caroline’s Kids Pet Rescue. According to the report, authorities obtained a search warrant and took a veterinarian to the property, where they “reportedly found unsanitary conditions in the pet sanctuary, saying most of the cats were in critical condition. Forty-nine dead cats were removed from the house and 161 were taken to the Humane Society for treatment for medical conditions such as upper respiratory infections, panleukopenia, stomatitis, flea infestation and ringworm. Painesville Municipal Court has ordered that the cats be surrendered to the Humane Society …. An investigation is under way and criminal charges are possible. In November 2016, the Humane Society seized 157 cats from the sanctuary after they were found to be in poor medical condition. Four employees were convicted on 24 counts [of] animal cruelty in the case. They received suspended jail sentences and were placed on probation.” (See the December 2016/Concord Township, Ohio, entry below for more details.)

September 2020/Corpus Christi, Texas: KRISTV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 80 animals, including 76 cats, five ducks, and two dogs, from a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Pets and Animals Life Shelter (PALS) after they were found without adequate care in “unsanitary living conditions.” Caller.com reported that “[a]ll cats and dogs were [found] inside the home and some were kept confined with feces, urine and unsanitary water and food. Ducks were kept outside in enclosures with similar conditions,” according to authorities. Criminal charges were being considered.

 September 2020/Panama City, Florida: MyPanhandle.com reported that “[w]ith the humane society no longer accepting intakes and animal control limiting their hours,” private animal adoption groups had been inundated with homeless and injured animals. A spokesperson for an area adoption group reportedly said that the group was “getting calls from everywhere, lots of emergency calls …. Countless cat after cat with broken legs, legs we’re having to amputate, legs [we’re] having to surgically repair. But we’re also finding them emaciated or finding them hit by cars, it just seems like it’s daily that we get a call about another emergency.”

September 2020/Los Angeles, California: KNX1070.Radio.com reported that “[a] woman is suing the city of Los Angeles, alleging she was bitten in the arm by a German shepherd while working as a volunteer at an animal shelter, then had to drag herself more than 200 feet with the animal’s mouth attached to her limb to get help.” For several years, the city’s sheltering system has been implementing increasingly dangerous policies in a bid to profess that its facilities are “no-kill.” The lawsuit reportedly “alleges negligence, negligent hiring, training and supervision, premises liability and dangerous condition of public property” and sought unspecified damages. The report states, “According to her lawsuit, [Kelly] Kaneko was serving as a city shelter volunteer … last Oct. 31 when she was told to leash [a] 100-pound German shepherd named Jax and escort him 250 feet, while alone, from his kennel to an area where a family could meet the dog and decide whether to adopt him. … While placing him back in his kennel and removing the leash, the dog suddenly attacked Kaneko, biting and latching onto one of her forearms, the suit states. Kaneko tried without success to free herself, but the dog intensified his bite, which penetrated her bone and arteries, according to the suit, which says no one at the shelter came to her aid despite her screams and calls for help. After five to seven minutes, Kaneko, fearing she would lose her entire arm, dragged herself the 250 feet from Jax’s kennel to the main office while he continued to bite into her limb, the suit states. One employee was at the main office, but the person was wearing earplugs because of the animal noise in the shelter and was unable to hear Kaneko’s screams, the suit says. Eventually, another employee saw what was happening and helped Kaneko remove the dog’s jaws from her arm, according to her court papers, which say she underwent surgeries and spent weeks in intensive care.”

September 2020/El Paso, Texas: KVIA.com reported that a public animal shelter that had implemented “no-kill” policies had refused to accept an aggressive dog from a resident. The woman reported that the dog had fatally attacked another dog in the household. She said she was rebuffed when she contacted El Paso Animal Services. “I tried to surrender the dog, I called and they said that the program was not available anymore and that the dog was my responsibility and [the animal] was my property,” she said. The agency’s director, Paula Powell, reportedly said that appointments were required to surrender an animal, a common scheme used by selective-admission facilities to discourage people from taking animals to them. According to the report, when “ABC-7 asked if surrendering a pet was an option, Animal Services said it was the owner’s responsibility to surrender a pet via a veterinarian, or bringing them in themselves with an appointment.” No additional information was available. In August, KFOXTV.com reported that a group of residents had protested “outside El Paso City Hall demanding the city’s Animal Services Department do more when it comes to picking up stray pets. . . . Protesters claim that when a stray animal is found in the city, employees tell them to take care of the stray themselves or release them back into the community.” Powell denied the allegations.

August 2020/Margate, Florida: Sun-Sentinel.com reported that a dog who had been adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Mastiff Rescue of Florida, Inc., had mauled an elderly woman to death. The dog had reportedly been released to the group by a public facility with “no-kill” policies doing business as Miami-Dade Animal Services. According to the report, two weeks after he was adopted, the dog attacked his elderly caretaker. He first attacked her ankle, and when she fell to the ground, “Smokey went for her jugular while her 57-year-old son beat back the dog with anything in reach, including his mother’s wheelchair. It was no use. His 84-year-old mother died Friday in the hallway near the bathroom, according to records released from the Margate Police Department. … While on the ground, she was bitten multiple times in the head and upper body.” The woman, Carolyn Varanese, had reportedly cared for the dog and “allowed Smokey to sleep in bed with her.” Her son “suffered injuries to the left forearm and bicep as well as several facial scratches and a laceration under his right ear” during the attack. The dog was impounded by Broward County authorities.

August 2020/Summerville, South Carolina: ABCNews4.com reported that a dog had been found suffering from dehydration after he was left outside a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Dorchester Paws. The group, which receives public funding, requires that an appointment be made at least two weeks in advance and that a $125 surrender fee per animal be paid before it will accept them from the public.

August 2020/Los Angeles, California: LATimes.com reported that an animal adoption group had filed a lawsuit against a municipal animal sheltering system doing business as Los Angeles Animal Services alleging that it had been turning away lost and homeless animals. The lawsuit contended that the adoption group had been “overburdened and overrun” with homeless animals since two city shelters had closed. Its founder reportedly said, “I cannot cover for the West Valley shelter. We have a limit on how many animals we can have.” For several years, the city’s sheltering system has been implementing increasingly restrictive intake policies in a bid to profess that its facilities are “no-kill.”

August 2020/Seminary, Mississippi: Leader-Call.com reported that authorities had seized “39 malnourished and abandoned dogs” from the residence of a self-professed animal “rescuer.” Officials reportedly described “conditions of the residence [as] ‘heartbreaking,’ as dogs were trapped inside and … some had died. … Sheriff Joe Berlin said Miranda Kittrell is facing her third offense involving neglected animals; she now faces more than 30 misdemeanor charges, he said.” A spokesperson for an animal adoption group that was caring for the dogs reportedly said, “Some of the animals had severe medical and behavioral issues.” According to the report, “In 2017, Kittrell, a founding member of the now-defunct Animal Rescue Team, faced charges of animal neglect and abuse when Jones County Sheriff’s deputies took 40 dogs and nearly 20 horses living in poor conditions from multiple properties. Kittrell was charged with 13 counts of failing to provide substance to the animals. Sources close to this current investigation say those animals were discovered on Kittrell’s property, and children had been there, too.” It was later reported that the residence had “burned down” in a fire suspected to have been caused by arson.

August 2020/Portland, Oregon: KPTV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” and boarding facility doing business as Woofin Palooza, LLC, including 52 dogs and 65 cats. According to the report, “Investigators said the dogs and cats were seized from the facility after determining the state and condition of the animals at the site. A forensic veterinary team … also responded to assist with medical triage of the animals. The dogs and cats are now being treated by the Multnomah County Animals Services veterinary team. The animals are considered part of an ongoing investigation. The case has been referred to the district attorney’s office and no further details were released Tuesday. The website for Woofin Palooza states they work to ‘save the pets in high kill shelters that are facing euthanasia due to over crowding and lack of homes.’”

July 2020/Amarillo, Texas: Mix941KMXJ.com reported that “a Facebook post that has now been shared over 750 times (at the time of this writing) … allege[d] mistreatment of animals and a lack of concern regarding safety for the animals and employees” at a public animal shelter doing business as Amarillo Animal Management & Welfare. According to the report, the post included gruesome photos and descriptions, including a “gut-wrenching stor[y] … of a dog who chewed through [his or her] own leg. Another is of a cat who, instead of being humanely euthanized, was left to suffer.” The post, which had apparently been written by a former employee, alleged that the horrendous conditions were created by practices instituted by the facility’s director, who “wants her numbers to look good, as if she has turned things around to be ‘no kill.’” It alleged that, “to keep the numbers looking good on paper, she also has closed open intake to strays found in the community. . . . Word is getting around about this new policy, even though management has never even bothered to make an official announcement to the tax paying public. Therefore, there are now packs of dogs roaming. … There are dozens of animals hit by cars all over town and on the highway, who if lucky, died instantly. Most aren’t so lucky. Most bleed out and suffer the pain of broken bones, crushed organs, knocked out teeth and popped out eyeballs from the impact before they die. I can say this with 100% certainty, because I have seen it firsthand as an officer when an animal has been hit. Now, there are even more animals hit daily due to the sheer number of loose animals roaming due to the policy of no longer picking up strays in the field.” The city reportedly provided a statement that gave excuses for the extreme pain and suffering caused to the animals in the photos shared in the post but did not deny that the facility was refusing to accept lost or homeless animals from residents, who fund the program.

July 2020/Plumstead Township, Pennsylvania: BucksCountyCourierTimes.com reported that authorities had seized “60 animals including chickens and sheep from what officials described as unsafe, unsanitary conditions at a Plumstead farm that billed itself as an animal sanctuary on Craig’s List (sic).” A first responder reportedly said that many of the animals had been found “living in filthy pens where the temperature was more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with no access to water. Four sheep that were rescued had ‘extremely thick, matted coats’ that had not been shorn in two years, and no access to food or water. … Some areas of the sheeps’ coats were so heavy they were pulling away from the skin, which was red and irritated. One sheep also had a chronic leg issue. … Eight cats and kittens appeared ill and were living in unsanitary conditions. …Workers also found a near-skeletonized dog corpse under a piece of plastic board.” The investigation was apparently ongoing.

July 2020/Jonesville, Louisiana: WGNO.com reported that authorities had apparently seized 37 dogs and five cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Catahoula’s Urban Tails (CUT) after they were found starving; in need of medical care; stacked in filthy, cramped cages, and living in their own waste. According to the report, “There was no drainage system in the warehouse so the animal waste often accumulated in the kennels without being properly hosed out. According to witnesses, the warehouse’s air-conditioning unit was not working properly and there was only one window unit for the entire 30 x 80 building, which was not running the day that [Stacey Alleman McKnight, director of Pointe Coupee Parish Animal Services] picked up the animals. The outdoor thermometer that was affixed to the side of the warehouse registered 114 degrees the day that the animals were removed, according to Ms. Alleman. A gray tabby kitten was housed in a birdcage. One volunteer said that the water to the warehouse was routinely cut off due to the failure to pay the water bill. … Ms. Alleman observed that all the animals were in very poor health and were severely malnourished and dehydrated. Two of the puppies tested positive for Parvo and died along with a third a few days after being rescued. Subsequent veterinary exams showed that the dogs were extremely dehydrated, infested with fleas, anemic, suffered from bloody diarrhea, internal parasites (a combination of round, hook, and/or whipworms). Ms. Alleman scored all dogs between 1 – 2 out of 5, and the vet who examined the animals concurred with those scores. All the adult dogs tested positive for heartworm disease and only one of the adult dogs had been fixed. According to Ms. Alleman, four of the five kittens were emaciated and two kittens had severe eye discharge. This horrendous lack of basic care occurred even though [veterinarian and CUT Director Kelly Hudspeth’s] veterinary office is within walking distance of the warehouse where the animals were housed.” Alleman reportedly said, “In my 20 years in the rescue community and as the director of two animal shelters, I have rarely seen such a complete disregard for life and an overall lack of care on every level.” An investigation was ongoing.

July 2020/Los Angeles, California: LosAngeles.CBSLocal.com reported that “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Wednesday filed suit against a Los Angeles-based animal rescue and adoption agency for allegedly misleading donors and improperly soliciting donations. The suit names Little Love Rescue and Brittany Littleton—the agency’s founder and director—alleging that the nonprofit sought donations without being registered with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and misrepresented the condition of rescued animals in order to solicit donations through online platforms. The suit alleges that Littleton misrepresented the condition of a dog named Luna, claiming that the animal needed spinal surgery when [she] did not. The suit also alleges that Littleton misled donors by falsely claiming that Little Love Rescue was tax exempt.” Becerra reportedly said in a statement, “Unfortunately, charity rip-offs abound.”

July 2020/Cliffside Park, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that a visitor to a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Bergen County Protect and Rescue Foundation had filed a lawsuit against the company “claiming she suffered serious injuries when she was attacked by a dog that handlers should have known was vicious.” According to the report, the victim said she was attacked by a pit bull at the facility and “claims she suffered permanent injuries in the attack, is under the care of a doctor and is taking prescribed medications.” The facility’s founder, Vincent Ascolese, was reportedly “a former animal control officer in Bloomfield” who had been “charged in 2015 with animal cruelty after the death of a deer whose throat was allegedly slashed, according to a published report on NorthJersey.com. Acolese later pleaded guilty to disorderly person charges, according to the report.” The facility reportedly “closed its Cliffside Park location in October 2019.” The plaintiff was “seeking unspecified monetary damages, along with interest and costs of the lawsuit.”

July 2020/Hamilton Township, New Jersey: Trentonian.com reported that “[a]t least two women” had been attacked by a pit bull called Lucky who was up for adoption at the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter. According to the report, the facility had “moved toward what is commonly referred to as a no-kill animal shelter model, which may partly explain why Hamilton Township still attempted to place Lucky up for adoption in May despite his documented history of bad behavior.” According to attorney Stan R. Gregory, who was representing one of the women in a tort claim against the township, the dog had been confined at the facility “since September 2019. … In April, somebody said, ‘This dog isn’t friendly.’ And in May, my client comes in and gets bitten by this dog, suffering a severe injury. Severe.” According to an incident report, Gregory’s client and her husband visited the public facility in May “for a meet and greet with Lucky. ‘Before the dog approached the couple,’ the report states, ‘they were advised to go slow with Lucky, so they let the dog approach them.’ The report appears to corroborate all of the facts from the tort claims notice.” When the plaintiff petted Lucky, he reportedly “‘bit and vigorously shook’ the victim’s arm, according to the report. . . . The wound [the plaintiff] suffered could be described as a ‘high level 4 bite’ on the Dunbar Bite Scale,” according to a professional dog trainer consulted in the case. The attack caused “so much damage that a plastic surgeon had to be called to the hospital to repair the wounds,” the tort claim notice states. Documents obtained by the outlet reportedly described another incident in which a woman had “suffered a ‘puncture, bruising and inflammation’” from being attacked by Lucky three months earlier, in February. Lucky had reportedly since been euthanized.

July 2020/Salem, Ohio: WFMJ.com reported that authorities had seized more than 200 animals from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary after they were found hoarded in conditions described by prosecuting attorney DanaMarie Pannella as “absolutely horrific.” Pannella said that many animals required medical attention. “‘The scope and the volume that need veterinary care is extremely overwhelming,’ she said. ‘Conditions ranging from skin conditions to flea infestations to emaciation.’” Three animals had died since they were seized. According to the report, “Pannella also filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s office regarding the owner’s for profit operation, Whispering Pines Castle LLC. Stephen Sacco who operates Alchemy Acres, is also the statutory agent and incorporator of Whispering Pines Castle LLC, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.

Pannella says donors to that operation have complained to the humane society in the past. She wants the state to look into the finances of both the LLC and the non-profit Alchemy Acres.” The hundreds of dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals who were seized were receiving care. WFMJ.com further reported that no charges had yet “been filed and humane agents are still investigating who is responsible for the care of these animals. A hearing will be scheduled to determine the custody of the animals.” SalemNews.net later reported, “The four members of the Sacco family who serve on Alchemy Acres Animal Sanctuary board have pleaded no contest to neglect charges after 197 animals in bad shape were seized from an animal shelter they operated in Perry Township. After entering no contest pleas to a single count of animal neglect, county Municipal Court Judge Tim McNicol found Stephen, Julie, Emily and Katie Sacco guilty during Friday’s hearing. The Saccos were sentenced to three months in the county jail, but their sentences suspended and were placed on probation for five years and each ordered to pay a $750 fine. As part of the plea deal, the Saccos were required to relinquish ownership of the seized animals but will be allowed to keep their personal pets. As part of their probation, the Saccos are prohibited from owning, operating or being associated with an animal rescue or animal related organization or business. They also agree any law enforcement officer or humane agent can inspect any non-residential property or buildings they own or control to confirm no animals are being kept there. … As part of the agreement, the humane society agreed not pursue charges against anyone else on the board of Alchemy Acres or the volunteers involved in the organization.”

July 2020/Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada: CBC.ca reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Furbaby Rescues Society had “come under fire from former customers who say they thought they were adopting fully-vetted dogs from [open-admission animal shelters] in California—only to end up with sick dogs from Mexico. Furbaby Rescues owner Krystle Jores charges as much as [CA]$1,100 for a vaccinated and fixed puppy …. Ashley Kipping of Squamish says she spent [CA]$3,900 to keep her dog Kihei alive, after [the dog] started hemorrhaging from a tick-borne illness endemic to Mexico. . . . Lorrie Carlson of Victoria shelled out [CA]$1,600 in vet fees when her newly-adopted dog Lily came down with a mystery illness. . . . They were among eight former customers who spoke with CBC News about their experience with ailing dogs adopted from Jores.” Veterinarian Jefferson Manens reportedly expressed concerns about diseases that may stem from the importation of dogs from Mexico and suggested that people adopt local dogs who need homes. “There’s a large population of dogs that need to be adopted in B.C. and in Canada,” he said. A lack of regulations was cited as a problem by a local animal advocate. “It is the Wild West,” she said, adding that there are “no standards that organizations must meet in order to do this work.”

July 2020/Santa Ynez, California: SantaMariaTimes.com reported that a business called Hollon’s Hounds, which also owns a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Milton’s Mutts, had been approved to house dogs at a property that included “an existing horse barn, a pole barn and two stables, where the dogs will be housed.” An appeal had reportedly been “filed by Elizabeth Gullo, founder and executive director of the nonprofit C.A.R.E.4Paws … who said the appeal was based on her experiences while living on the site. Gullo said she saw dogs left unsupervised and going without food and water, with feces and urine not cleaned up, dogs being adopted out without first being altered and dogs going without veterinary care. She said the facility had operated without licenses and permits and Animal Services officers had responded to complaints about the operation eight times between July 2017 and April 2020, which she said seemed excessive. During public comment, veterinary technician Angela Adan, who also had lived at the site, repeated many of Gullo’s claims.”

 June 2020/Airdrie, Alberta, Canada: CBC.ca reported that former volunteers and foster caregivers for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as EJ Rescue Canada were alleging that the group hadn’t given adequate care to animals on transport trucks and in its custody, had hoarded dogs, and had falsified information on documents when importing animals from the U.S. According to the report, “The ex-volunteers say they struggled to find enough fosters and adopters. They say they also struggled to keep up with feeding, providing bathroom breaks and play time, and cleaning up after the sometimes dozens of dogs that ended up staying at the daycare/rescue facility. . . . Some of the ex-volunteers’ top concerns revolve around the dogs’ transportation into Canada, both in terms of transit conditions and falsified information in documents provided to border officials.” In 2019, while transporting a planned 32 dogs from an adoption group in Arizona, an additional 11 dogs were allegedly “packed” into a van, leaving inadequate space for air to circulate. A former volunteer reportedly said that “[o]ne older terrier, who had been tucked up in a corner, died before they even reached the border.” In May 2020, GlobalNews.ca reported that two people and 14 dogs had died when a “cube van” transporting dogs from Arizona to EJ Rescue Canada careened off the road in Idaho. (See the May 2020/Shelley, Idaho, entry below for more details.) CBC.ca reportedly interviewed an individual or family that had adopted a dog from the group “who says they were left with a hefty vet bill because they say they were never told about pre-existing conditions. Others say they were told a dog was younger than [he or she] really was, which allowed EJ to collect a higher fee. . . . Other fosters told CBC News that they couldn’t contact EJ or convince staff that their dog needed medical attention—whether it be for trouble walking, diarrhea or a wound suffered in a fight.” Volunteers reportedly said that large dogs were kept in cramped crates and that the group imports more animals than it can adequately care for. Six former volunteers reportedly said that “many people have complained to the SPCA about EJ Rescue—including them after they left—but say nothing changes …. They say the SPCA sometimes notified [owner Trina] Demeria before they came to inspect; other times, [former volunteer Twyla] Johnson and another staff member say they would have to stall the SPCA and to give Demeria and the volunteers enough time to clean up, hide dogs, or move them into foster homes.”

June 2020/Austin, Texas: FOX7Austin.com reported that a public “no-kill” facility doing business as Austin Animal Center was “accepting very few healthy stray animals” and residents were “being encouraged to leave the animals on the street in the hope they’ll wander home, or take them in themselves.” The policy started as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic but reportedly could be made permanent. According to the report, “An internal memo from late April shared with FOX 7 Austin shows Austin Animal Center chief Don Bland outlining plans for the shelter’s future. Those plans include turning away strays, and only taking in sick and injured animals and those with serious behavioral problems.” A concerned volunteer at the facility reportedly explained, “Animals are gonna be left on the street, people are not gonna have the ability to get these animals to a safe place [and] the community is going to be left doing the job that Austin Animal Center is paid to do.” Program manager Mark Sloatz reportedly said that the facility was “looking for ways to keep intake down.” FOX7Austin.com later reported that local residents were “calling out the Austin Animal Center after a video posted online showed someone trying to surrender a stray dog and being turned away. In the video posted on Facebook Thursday, a staff member can be heard telling the person with the stray dog, ‘If you can’t keep her, and no one on your Nextdoor or Austin Lost and Found Pets can hold onto her, you probably should just let her go where you found her.’ . . . In another part of the now-viral video, the same staff member said, ‘There’s no need for her to be in a kennel without receiving proper care here.’” (The full video can be viewed here.)

June 2020/La Grande, Oregon: LaGrandeObserver.com reported that authorities were investigating the former director of a self-professed “high-save” facility doing business as Blue Mountain Humane Association, who may have “embezzled funds and committed other criminal acts.” Local authorities had reportedly “partnered with the FBI to look into rumors and accusations against John Brinlee, including for embezzlement and false advertising.” Current board members allegedly believed Brinlee could have stolen up to $250,000. The group had reportedly held a contract with Union County to provide sheltering services on and off since at least 2011. At a county meeting in 2016, residents reportedly “voiced frustrations with the shelter. Some community members were upset the shelter would not take sick animals, and others shared their personal experiences, one of which involved the director getting upset with a customer and staff. Jodi Lambert, who manages the Eastern Oregon Pet Lovers Facebook page, shared the story from a message she received: ‘BMHA told them to let the cat go because they couldn’t take [the animal], couldn’t afford the vet fee, and they would put [the cat] down anyway,’ Lambert said, according to meeting minutes.” The cat reportedly had a broken leg, and what became of him or her wasn’t reported.

May 2020/Great Falls, Montana: GreatFallsTribune.com reported that authorities had seized 172 animals from inhumane and dangerous conditions at a self-professed “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as Hooves Paws and Claws, Inc., “following a structure fire on [the owner’s] property on May 6.” Owner/operator Pamela Jo Polejewski had reportedly “been charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony, and four counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.” An unknown number of animals had reportedly died in the fire. KRTV.com reported that the surviving animals taken into custody included 52 dogs, 29 chickens, 21 waterfowl, 19 cats, 14 goats, 12 rabbits, 11 horses, six pigs, three turkeys, two parakeets, a tortoise, a ferret, a cockatiel, and a fish. Charging documents reportedly alleged that authorities had found “many dogs … in multiple makeshift kennels throughout the property [that] were not suitable for the dogs to live in” as well as “a cage full of kittens, multiple small fenced areas with dogs, more dogs running loose on the property, and goats running loose on the property. The cage full of kittens appeared to have so many kittens they barely had any room to move around. The floor of the cage was not visible due to the number of kittens present.” A veterinarian on scene reportedly found “a mini-horse on the property whose feet had not been cared for and were so long that they had curled, causing deformities to the horse. The veterinarian also found inside one of the trailers a deceased bloated dog with a necrotic mouth. … The veterinarian stated that the trailer confinement was cruel to the animals as there was no food or water, the animals were confined with the dead dog and an over-abundance of fecal matter, and they were unable to escape the trailer. An adult dog was removed from the trailer that had a severely disfigured face due to an infection; the veterinarian elected to immediately euthanize the dog to end [his or her] suffering. … Many of the cats/kittens were suffering from eye infections that if left untreated can result in the loss of the eye(s).” The report revealed that “records indicate that the organization was involuntarily dissolved by the Secretary of State in December 2018” and that “Polejewski has been charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty, and four misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. … She faced similar charges in Great Falls back in 2006.” GreatFallsTribune.com reported that 176 animals had been seized in the recent case. KRTV.com reported, “This is at least the third time Polejewski has faced similar charges in a courtroom.”

 May 2020/Shelley, Idaho: EastIdahoNews.com reported that 14 dogs had been killed and 16 remained missing after a vehicle transporting them from Arizona to Canada crashed, also killing the driver and passenger. According to the report, “Eighteen surviving animals were found and are being cared for by local veterinarians and the Blackfoot Animal Shelter.” AZCentral.com reported that the founder of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Who Saved Who Rescue in Arizona and her boyfriend were killed in the crash. No other vehicles were reportedly involved. The group reportedly removed animals from the public animal shelter in Maricopa County.

 May 2020/Texarkana, Arkansas: WAVY.com reported that the public animal shelter in Texarkana had been turning away residents who tried to surrender animals for whom they couldn’t—or wouldn’t—care. The turn-away policy was changed after authorities discovered “five puppies, deliberately drowned at a local park.” A plastic crate was also found at the park. The city’s animal control director reportedly said that the animals had likely been drowned one by one in the crate: “We believe they placed the puppy in it, closed the lid, and then held the crate under water until they [believed] the puppies were drowned, and then drug it back out and then removed the body, and then would go on to the next one.” Authorities were investigating, but no suspects had yet been identified.

May 2020/Elliott County, Kentucky: LEX18.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals from a self-professed  “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as The Trixie Foundation after they were found “living in poor conditions and receiving improper care.” The animals reportedly included 104 dogs and four cats. According to the report, owner/operator “Randy Skaggs is cited with 12 counts of improperly disposing of dead animals. Police say more charges are pending the results of veterinarian records.” According to a first responder, “There was a dog … they had to call the vet for immediately. She had to be euthanized. She was lifeless but still breathing.” Many of the animals reportedly had “visible health problems, including severe eye infections and large tumors on their mouths and bodies.” (See the March 2018/Elliott County, Kentucky, entry below for information about previous criminal charges against Skaggs.)

April 2020/Tulpehocken Township, Pennsylvania: ReadingEagle.com reported that authorities had seized three horses from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Eden Farm Equine Sanctuary, Inc., “due to neglect.” An affidavit reportedly “listed in graphic detail the problems one emaciated horse, Dahlia, was suffering. According to a statement provided by Dr. Christina Vittoria of Willow Creek Veterinary Center, Dahlia was about 100 pounds underweight during an exam at Eden Farm on March 17.” A volunteer at the “sanctuary” had reportedly contacted authorities, “concerned that three elderly horses were suffering, and 14 cats and seven dogs (six in the home and one in the barn) at Eden Farm were malnourished and not well kept.” He reportedly said that “there [wa]s an overpowering ammonia smell coming from the home due to what [owner Gayle] Cooper had described as having fourteen (14) cats and six (6) dogs inside the home, this ammonia has caused the floorboards in the home to rot/wilt from being damp for so long.” The investigation was ongoing.

 March 2020/Hamilton Township, Pennsylvania: WNEP.com reported that 10 cats had died in a fire at a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Camp Papillon Animal Shelter. The animals had apparently been confined to a building. The cause of the fire was reportedly not known. No additional details were available.

 March 2020/Woodstock, Virginia: NVDaily.com reported that Erica Stinson, the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as River’s Edge Senior Sanctuary and Rescue, had been “charged with two felony counts of torture of an animal resulting in death, two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor of inadequate care for animals.” An investigator reportedly said in an affidavit “that she responded to the [Stinson’s] residence on Feb. 27 for a welfare check with Adult Protective Services. [The investigator] states she made contact with Stinson who operates River’s Edge Senior Sanctuary and Rescue. ‘The (residence) where the animals were housed was covered in feces with a strong smell of urine,’ [the investigator] states.” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Strecky reportedly said she wanted the court to move forward with a civil seizure request to seize additional animals from Stinson, “given the condition and age of the remaining animals. ‘These animals are very elderly and they need a lot of care and the bills are already extensive to the Sheriff’s Office,’ Strecky said.” She reportedly also said that a “large number” of additional charges were expected to be filed against Stinson as well as against one or more co-defendants. According to the report, “Stinson voluntarily surrendered a total of 35 animals to the Sheriff’s Office …. However, three more animals were not signed over … and an additional five to seven animals remain at Stinson’s residence, Strecky said.” An affidavit filed in the case reportedly said, “During the search warrant, [the investigator] observed animals to be living in bad conditions as well as several animals needing immediate medical care.” An earlier report revealed that two dogs and a cat had been found in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized.

 March 2020/Oswego, Illinois: KendallCountyNow.com reported that authorities had arrested Michaelene A. Majestic, “the founder, chief executive officer and chief operating officer” of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Just Giants Rescue, Inc. Majestic was reportedly “arrested on four counts of felony theft for the alleged misuse of the rescue’s funds.” If convicted, she could reportedly face up to five years in prison. The court case was ongoing.

March 2020/Port Washington, New York: LongIsland.News12.com reported that former employees of a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as North Shore Animal League America “say they were directed by their superiors to hide the biting history of animals and use euphemisms instead—phrases like ‘resource guarding’—which means a dog protects … food or possessions.” According to the report, about a month after adopting a dog named Ringo, the adopter was attacked by him: “He just lunged and started shaking my arm … All my flesh was pulled back, I was bleeding profusely all over the street,” the adopter said. The dog was later euthanized. “In the paperwork [the adopter] says she received from North Shore, Ringo was described as a playful, puppy-like dog. But documents given to News 12 by former North Shore Animal League employees paint a different picture. … They show that Ringo bit workers or volunteers at the shelter three times, sending one to the hospital about seven months before he was adopted.” The adopter said she wasn’t told about any of those attacks. The report went on: “Records from the whistleblowers show a German shepherd mix named Kobe bit multiple people, including an 81-year-old woman who needed 30 stitches. Despite this, the dog was adopted or fostered several times. There was no mention of any previous attacks in the paperwork that News 12’s whistleblowers say were given to clients.” Nobody from the facility would talk to reporters.

March 2020/Pocatello, Idaho: IdahoStateJournal.com reported that cases of animal abandonment had “skyrocketed,” according to a local animal adoption group. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “We have been scraping neglected animals off the pavement this year, literally in some cases. One problem is that all of the shelters and fosters in our entire surrounding area are full. It’s so bad that we are getting a ton of calls from other rural communities outside of Bannock County looking to surrender animals.” One dog, who was found lying on the side of a road, was suffering from “both demodectic and sarcoptic mites with secondary infections of his mangy skin, and had significant wounds to the top of his head and torso.” According to a foster caregiver, “[E]very time he moved his skin would crack and bleed everywhere.” He was reportedly receiving treatment.

February 2020/Des Moines, Iowa: KCCI.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Unbreakabull Bullies “who was arrested last year for having 17 dogs in a home has been arrested again …. Tina Petraline is facing charges for animal neglect, theft and harassment.” Authorities reportedly said that she had “provided someone with puppies that were coughing and covered with fleas. One of those puppies died. Another dog in her possession allegedly had to be put down for lung cancer and heartworms. Officers said Petraline had not cared for the dogs.” (See the November 2019/Des Moines, Iowa, entry below for more information.)

February 2020/Henderson, Louisiana: KATC.com reported that an individual had “witnessed a small white single cab truck briefly stop on the bridge and toss a bag into the water.” He then reportedly retrieved it from the water, “and inside the bag were eight live newborn black lab mix puppies.” Authorities were investigating, but no suspects were identified. The puppies were taken to an animal adoption group and were apparently expected to survive. At the time of the report, the St. Martin Parish Animal Services Shelter stated on its website that the facility accepted surrendered animals by appointment only and charged $50 per animal.

February 2020/Charlotte, Tennessee: WKRN.com reported that authorities had seized 16 horses and 32 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found in distress and in conditions described as “deplorable.” Dogs were found inside two sheds on the property, and an eyewitness reportedly “described the conditions as cramped, with little food and water. ‘The smell of urine … You already know it’s bad before you walk in,’” the witness said. One of the horses was in such bad shape that he or she had to be euthanized. An investigation was apparently ongoing.

February 2020/Pompano Beach, Florida: Local10.com reported that city officials had filed a lawsuit against a self-professed “non-profit animal shelter” doing business as Cats and Brats to stop the group from housing more than 60 cats at a residential property. The property was reportedly within the city limits, where the law prohibits residents from harboring more than four animals at a residence. A court date was reportedly scheduled for sometime in April.

February 2020/Union County, Florida: WCJB.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 70 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found in “grossly unsanitary conditions.” According to the report, “Several dogs were caged in unkempt rooms filled with everything from dirty laundry hampers to instant pot cookers. … The investigation crosses state lines with some of the animals belonging to Dragon Paws Rescue which operates in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. The organization’s license was suspended and animal cruelty charges have been pursued.” TheLedger.com reported that a “search warrant of the property revealed animals suffering from multiple untreated medical conditions, severe signs of neglect and unsanitary conditions, investigators said. Deputies found unclean wire cages, stacked upon one another and animals living in their own feces. For some animals, the untreated medical conditions led to infection and loss of limbs,” according to a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. 11Alive.com reported that one of the dogs seized had been released to Dragon Paws Rescue, Inc., by a county animal shelter in Georgia after he’d been hit by a car in July 2019 and was found suffering from “bi-lateral femur fractures, a fractured pelvis and rib, and a ruptured bladder,” according to a first responder at the raid in Florida. Dragon Paws reportedly posted an online fundraiser to provide him with veterinary care, but when he was found at the Florida property in March 2020, he had chewed tissue off his leg after he was evidently denied medical attention. The Florida property owner, who was reportedly acting as a “foster” for Dragon Paws, told authorities that the family had “duct taped [the leg] to his body” because “they didn’t know what to do.” After the dog was removed from the property, his leg was amputated and another fundraiser was reportedly undertaken to pay for the surgery. A spokesperson for a group that assisted in the raid said, “There were dogs that had fundraisers specifically for spay and neuter that when taken off property had not been spayed or neutered …. Forget the fact that we have [dogs needing medical attention] there. The basics were not taken care of.” Every dog found was reportedly malnourished and infested with fleas and hookworms, according to first responders. A criminal investigation was ongoing.

February 2020/Berkeley, South Carolina: Live5News.com reported that a “South Carolina leader is now taking a Tri-County nonprofit to court after a Live 5 investigation showed it was soliciting donations despite being suspended by the Secretary of State.” The state had reportedly “issued a legal warning to Suzanne Melton, the CEO, for failing to turn in forms for 2016, 2017 and 2018. The Secretary of State also does not have a current registration statement for the nonprofit. According to Doug Renew, the Secretary of State’s Chief Investigator, Suzie’s Zoo Sanctuary for Special Needs Kitties owes the state $6,000 in outstanding fines.” According to the report, the “sanctuary” is Melton’s backyard, where 88 cats had been confined to pens and sheds.

February 2020/Ulster, New York: DailyFreeman.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal facility doing business as Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had been warehousing some animals for years. A cat who had been warehoused there for six years reportedly had a medical condition that required a “10-minute infusion of liquids” three times a week and was extremely “shy.” A pit bull who had been at the facility for three years was described as “fearful of new things, including toys and kitchen appliances.” A worker said the dog was so terrified at one time that “he jumped up in the air with all four paws off the ground.” Visitors were reportedly either not allowed or able to touch him when he exited the kennel where he was kept because of his explosive excitement. Another pit bull had been warehoused at the facility for four years. The report said that “she has special needs. There are places on her body where she just does not like being touched.” Visitors were also either not allowed or able to touch her when she was allowed out of the kennel to which she was confined.

February 2020/Boynton Beach, Florida: WPBF.com reported that two dogs who had been adopted from a public animal shelter with “life at any cost” policies doing business as Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control had been found dead “in crates inside a dumpster.” Sun-Sentinel.com reported that the suspect, Devonna Hinds, had “adopted Paris, a 6-year-old white miniature poodle, on Aug. 10, 2018, and six months later adopted Karma, a 3-year-old white/brindle pit bull, according to the arrest report. Both dogs had satisfactory health and weight when they were adopted, the report says. Hinds kept the dogs outside in plastic crates and deprived them of food and water, the report says. A necropsy revealed that under Hinds’ custody, Paris lost 5% of her body weight and Karma lost 20% of her body weight by the time they died. Karma was bony and emaciated, with sores on her body and legs, extremely long toenails, and her coat was dirty, dry and sparse, the document says. She was also infested with hookworms. Paris … had little body fat and protruding ribs, according to the report. She had overgrown nails, dirty ears, dental tartar and her coat was dirty and matted. Neither dog had food in their digestive tracts, the report says. The veterinarian concluded that the dogs’ poor physical condition suggests they were ‘neglected over a long period of time and deprived of basic life-sustaining needs, specifically food, water and medical care,’ the report says. The dogs ultimately died while Hinds said she was gone on vacation on Nov. 21, 2019. The temperature that day was 81 degrees, and it would have been hotter inside the plastic crates, the report says. The vet concluded in the necropsy that because the dogs were deprived of food and water and exposed to the elements outside, they died of dehydration and heat exposure.” According to the report, “Hinds adopted a new dog the day after she found hers dead. When she went to Animal Care and Control to pick up her new dog, Boynton Beach Police officers were waiting.” She reportedly “told officers that she remembered feeding both dogs in their crates outside in the backyard, and when she returned both dogs were dead in their crates. … She put the crates with the dogs’ bodies in the trunk of her car and hauled them to Boynton Beach, where she saw a dumpster across the street from the high school and decided to throw the crates there ‘without a second thought,’” according to the arrest report.

February 2020/Houston, Texas: HoustonPress.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Mr. K’s Halfwayhouse for Hounds & Kitties Too Pet Shelter had “been picking up dogs from municipal shelters in and around Houston and sending them to a Connecticut shelter with a history of animal cruelty. According to one source close to the operation, the Texas dogs transported along this route number in the hundreds. Connecticut authorities say the nonprofit rescue, Mr. K’s Halfway House for Hounds and Kitties Too, doesn’t have a license to bring animals into the state, but that hasn’t stopped Mr. K’s from transporting animals over the past 18 months. The animals are delivered to the SPCA of Connecticut, run out of a foreclosed home that is set for court-ordered auction in March. The home doubled as the residence of former director Fred Acker, who was convicted on multiple counts of animal cruelty in 2014 and 2016, and sentenced to one year in jail. However, he disappeared while out on bond pending appeal, and is now a fugitive.” (See the September 2016/Milford, Connecticut, entry below for more details.) According to the report, “When told that an animal rescue in Houston was sending animals to the SPCA of Connecticut, [animal control officer] Umstead opined, ‘I wouldn’t send a flea down to that place …. This is what blows my mind, is that you’ve got all these rescues in the south, that think, ‘Oh, everybody in New England is great, and we’re going to ship all these truckloads of dogs up there,’ and they have no clue who they’re sending [them] to.’ … Almost from the beginning, Garrett and Mr. K’s Spokesperson Rocky Fiore greeted questions about dogs’ destinations with hostility.” Despite repeated efforts to obtain interviews and records, the investigative reporter was unable to obtain clear answers to many questions, including where dogs released to the “rescue” ended up, how they were removed from county facilities that had reportedly ended agreements with the group, and how they were imported into other states without the required licenses. His report concludes: “As always, the rescue could use donations. Just don’t ask them, or the Harris County Animal Shelter, where the animals are going.”

February 2020/Cambridge, Ohio: Daily-Jeff.com reported that a resident who was operating a self-professed animal “rescue” at her home had been charged with cruelty to animals after authorities seized 48 dogs from conditions described as “deplorable” at the property. Three children were also removed from the home, which was reportedly condemned by the health department. According to the report: “Authorities also located multiple cats, pigs, turkeys and chickens along with a cow and goat on the property. Several dead animals were reportedly found lying on the ground behind a chicken coop.” The “rescue” operator was unable to tell authorities how many dogs were confined at the property. Inside the residence, “authorities observed numerous dogs and puppies living in crates and cages that contained feces and urine. Dogs of various sizes were located in cages stacked in the children’s bedrooms and living room where crates were three high in places. … [O]ne medium size crate contained three adult dogs. … Paperwork for the rescue operation was not in proper order, according to authorities. … The dogs and crates were removed from the residence and transported to the dog shelter in an enclosed trailer. Five ‘very sick’ puppies were reportedly taken to a local veterinarian where they later died.”

February 2020/Washtenaw County, Michigan: MLive.com reported, “Facing multiple felony animal cruelty charges for failing to care for 71 animals in their home, Augusta Township Supervisor Brian Shelby and his wife have both pleaded guilty to lower misdemeanor charges. Brian Shelby, 65, pleaded guilty, Feb. 3, to seven misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty toward two to three animals, while his wife, Tammy Shelby, 58, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty toward two to three animals, court records show.” The charges were reportedly the result of a 2018 investigation that resulted in the “seizure and surrender of 37 cats, nine dogs, 13 chickens, 10 exotic birds and two peacocks from the Shelbys’ home after investigators … determined the animals were living in unsanitary conditions, records show. Investigators found excessive feces, urine, and debris littering the yard and inside the home. Many of the dogs and cats were locked in filthy plastic kennels, forced to step and lie in their own waste, investigators said. Most of the house did not have electricity or ventilation, and there was little food on the premises, investigators said. The exotic birds, including five cockatoos, two macaws, two conures and an Amazon parrot, were closed up in a room without light or ventilation, they said. ‘Mr. Shelby claimed he was helping homeless animals. This case highlights a common problem whereby people claiming to be rescuing animals are more akin to hoarders, causing direct and serious harm,’ Humane Society of Huron Valley CEO Tanya Hilgendorf said in a written statement. ‘Good intentions don’t justify or excuse animal cruelty. A good reminder to the public to do your homework before working with any animal group. No rational and caring person would have walked through this home and willingly left an animal here,’ Hilgendorf said.” A sentencing hearing was scheduled.

February 2020/East Milton, Florida: PNJ.com reported that because a public turn-away facility doing business as Santa Rosa County Animal Services didn’t have space for approximately 60 sick and neglected dogs, “it will take four or five trips and several months before all of the dogs can be removed” from the terrible conditions in which they were hoarded. The owner of the dogs had reportedly agreed to surrender them to authorities. According to a county spokesperson, “none [of the dogs] had received veterinary care or socialization and all of them had varying degrees of mange.” The report described some of the terrified animals who were reportedly expected to be held by the county for “six to eight months”: “One dog, a yellow Lab mix named Milk, recoils at human touch and sticks her nose in the corner of the kennel whenever a human tries to enter to pet her. Another dog, … Pretty Boy, cowers in the corner and won’t let humans come near him.” The dogs’ owner was not facing charges.

February 2020/Galesburg, Illinois: Galesburg.com reported that a woman who abandoned a cat in a travel carrier in a garbage receptacle at an apartment complex told police that she’d tried to surrender the cat to a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Knox County Humane Society but that it wouldn’t accept the animal. According to the report, “A resident of the complex told police they had seen a woman walking toward the garbage area with the cat in the carrier, then soon after returning without it. The cat carrier belonged to a local veterinary office and, upon speaking with the vet’s office, police confirmed that the woman had been loaned the carrier when having a cat spayed in December. The woman told police she had been having issues with the cat, which she got her son for Christmas. She said her son had no interest in the cat and the people she got the cat from refused to take her back. She claimed that the Humane Society would not take the cat, and when she tried to just let the cat go, a neighbor returned [her]. According to the police report, she grew angry at the cat and ‘put her hands on the cat.’ She told police that the last straw was when the cat destroyed the last roll of toilet paper. She admitted to then putting the cat in the carrier and placing [her] in the garbage, because she did not want to risk anyone bringing the cat back to her. The woman was arrested for animal cruelty and was given a notice to appear at the Knox County jail.” After she was found in the garbage, the cat was apparently taken in by the same facility that had turned her away. A spokesperson reportedly said that the animal “was very scared when first brought to the shelter. She would hide in a corner and cry unless held.”

February 2020/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that it had received new images of alleged filthy and inhumane conditions in which puppies suffering from the painful and highly contagious parvovirus were kept at a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Austin Pets Alive! According to the report: “A current staff member at the shelter, who asked to be kept anonymous, shared the images, saying animal waste piles up and that puppies are often caged in their own filth ‘without adequate food and water.’ … ‘Everybody who works there feels the same way, and they all know. Just nobody ever does anything about it,’ the staff member said. ‘I tell my managers and still they never do anything about it. All the veterinarians know but nothing ever gets done about it.’” A spokesperson for the group reportedly “confirmed the images were from the shelter” and “couldn’t say with certainty how many puppies are currently being held in the parvo ward.” The outlet reported that it had “requested a formal interview with Dr. Ellen Jefferson, executive director of Austin Pets Alive! as well as the parvo ward manager. KXAN has also formally requested a copy of the parvo ward cleanliness protocols” but had apparently not been provided with the requested interviews or documents.

February 2020/Millville, New Jersey: 6ABC.com reported that a person driving along a road had noticed a wire crate. The individual apparently stopped and found that it contained a dead pit bull. Authorities were called and reportedly “found a brindle pit bull mix, around six to nine months old. The dog was wearing a small sweater, and had [a] collar, leash and two pieces of fabric that investigators believe was used for bedding. ‘People have put their animals in cages, tied them to trees dumped them in the woods, dumped them in areas and normally they end up dying from starvation,’ said Kathleen Leary, South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter Director of Operations. Leary said animal abandonment occurs frequently throughout Cumberland County …. A necropsy revealed the cause of death was human neglect.” According to its website, the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter requires those who want or need to surrender an animal to make an appointment, be placed on a waiting list, and pay a fee of up to $200 per animal. Apparently, it may also only accept dogs who have been deemed adoptable by the facility.

February 2020/Troy Township, Ohio: Cleveland19.com reported that two puppies had died and an adult dog was badly burned in a fire that destroyed a barn “that was used as a dog kennel” at a foster home for a self-professed animal “foster group” doing business as Geauga Mama Dogs and Pups, Inc. According to the report, “Geauga Mama Dogs and Pups said one of the dogs started to deliver in the driveway by the barn as it burned. She was taken into a home where she gave birth to 10 puppies.” Another dog was badly burned and was reportedly “now at a veterinarian hospital in need of medical care ‘for a long while,’” according to the group.

January 2020/Fresno, California: YourCentralValley.com reported that a “local no-kill rescue group” had turned away nine cats who were suffering from scabies infestations (mange). The cats’ owner evidently told authorities that she could not care for the animals and had contacted local “no-kill” groups but they’d been “unwilling to take the cats in a timely fashion due to a lack of space and/or their medical conditions.” An open-admission animal shelter doing business as Central California SPCA accepted the animals and provided them with needed care, including medical treatment for the painful, highly contagious condition.

January 2020/Louisville, Kentucky: WHAS11.com reported that a dog had been found tied to a fence at a public turn-away facility doing business as Louisville Metro Animal Services. He was reportedly “unresponsive, facing hypothermia from the cold, and severely dehydrated. He also weighed up to 20 pounds less than what he should.” He was receiving treatment. Surveillance footage showed a man tying the dog to a fence and leaving him with a blanket, food and water, and a chew toy before driving away. At the time of the report, the facility’s website stated, “Louisville Metro Animal Services is not accepting owner-surrendered, large breed dogs. LMAS may be able to accept small, owner-surrendered pets by appointment only. LMAS does not accept other owned animals. … Owners who surrender a dog will be charged a $45 impoundment fee. For owners who surrender a cat, there will be a $35 impoundment fee. There may be additional medical costs depending upon your animal’s veterinary records.”

January 2020/Ionia County, Michigan: WZZM13.com reported that two dogs who had been adopted from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary had been returned, apparently after years of neglect. According to the report, “Tic Tac was malnourished and needed several infected teeth removed. Komino had to have emergency surgery on his remaining eye, which was close to rupturing.” The report included a Facebook post in which the group described the dogs’ condition: “Komino is shut down, cries nonstop, has been in great pain for who knows how long due to his remaining eye, which we removed recently along with infected teeth. … Tic Tac just wants closeness and will look into your eyes and whine, she cries in her sleep, she had many infected teeth pulled so she’s pretty swollen now.” The group was reportedly “trying to raise money for their medical expenses.”

January 2020/Dalton, Georgia: TimesFreePress.com reported that a dog had been warehoused at a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia for more than 10 years. She was described by a volunteer at the facility as “a bit territorial,” reportedly “gets jealous,” and has “been known to growl and bite.” The dog had evidently been adopted and returned more than once. The volunteer reportedly said that “she’s not entirely sure how [the dog] would adjust to being in a home with other animals. ‘Nobody’s adopted her long enough for us to see.’” The facility where the dog had been confined for the last decade was described as a “3,000-square-foot shelter [that] had dark sheds that held overcrowded kennels, outdated cages, and outdoor areas that became muddy.”

January 2020/St. Augustine, Florida: ActionNewsJAX.com reported that 21 animals had died in a fire at a property where they were hoarded by a couple who were reportedly “fostering five cats and rescued 15 of their own. Two of their dogs were also inside.” According to the report, after the fire and a successful online fundraising scheme, one of the owners “is coming up with a plan for their new house that will allow her to foster and rescue more cats and dogs.”

January 2020/Newark, Delaware: NewarkPostOnline.com reported that a pit bull who was being fostered for an unnamed self-professed animal “rescue” in Pennsylvania had pushed his or her way through a front door and attacked a small dog who was being walked on a leash by his or her guardian. According to the report, the smaller dog “suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to an animal hospital for emergency surgery, but … is expected to survive.” The property owner, whose daughter was fostering the pit bull, “was charged with keeping a vicious animal and allowing a dog to run at large.” The pit bull was reportedly returned to the group in Pennsylvania. No additional information was available.

January 2020/Langley, British Columbia, Canada: AldergroveStar.com reported that authorities had seized 20 animals—nine dogs, five birds, three cats, two rabbits, and a pig—from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as 1ataTime Rescue Society. According to the report, “Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BC SPCA, reported all of the animals removed met the definition of ‘distress’ under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. ‘There were concerns in the complaint about dogs being crated for long periods of time, and with one exception, the dogs were crated without access to water when our officers arrived,’ Moriarty commented. … It wasn’t the first time the SPCA has raided the house. In 2016, the agency took 88 animals, 45 dogs, 18 cats, and 24 farm animals including goats, chickens, ducks, and a turtle. In 2012, the SPCA seized 52 dogs and 19 cats from [“rescue” owner Sandra] Simans’ Burnaby residence.” (See the September 2016/Langley, British Columbia, Canada, entry below for more details.) Workers reportedly wore hazmat suits to remove the animals. BC.CTVNews.ca reported that “Moriarty said it was ‘extremely frustrating’ that the SPCA was once again dealing with the same individual. ‘[Simans] was ordered to pay the BC SPCA costs of care, [to] the tune of [CA]$81,000. We haven’t seen a cent of that,’ Moriarty told CTV News. … ‘We will absolutely be recommending charges and we can hopefully see a situation where she does get a ban on owning animals in the future,’ said Moriarty.”

January 2020/Thawville, Illinois: FOXIllinois.com reported that Corinne DiLorenzo, the founder of a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Earth Animal Sanctuary, was “facing a Class 4 felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty.” The charge came after “[h]undreds of animal carcasses were discovered in a shallow grave at the former sanctuary” the previous summer. According to two individuals who knew DiLorenzo, “there have been more than 600 animals [who] died while in DiLorenzo’s care with the possibility of more unaccounted animals.” FordCountyRecord.com reported: “Melissa Pena, a former board member for the Earth Animal Sanctuary, and two others visited the property, discovering ‘nothing short of a horror story,’ Pena said on the sanctuary’s Facebook page. ‘There was an oblong-shaped ditch filled with bag upon bag upon bag of the remains of dead animals,’ Pena said in the Facebook post. ‘There were the remains of pigs that had been dragged out on a tarp or blanket and dumped in the hole. We saw skulls and bones of large pigs, medium-sized pigs, goats of various ages, cats, dogs, birds/waterfowl and rabbits. There were small bags inside of larger garbage bags as well as bags that contained multiple species of animals. We saw various states of decomposition. There were layers of animals, and after about an hour of ripping through bags with my hands, I couldn’t do anymore.’” According to the report: “Following a suspicious fire at the property in September 2018—in which eight pigs, six ducks, six geese and 20 chickens perished—the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Office began investigating complaints about the welfare of the hundreds of animals that had been rescued and brought to the property, investigative reports show. … While visiting the property, investigators found unsanitary conditions in DiLorenzo’s home, where multiple animals were being kept, and ordered her to clean up and make various repairs to her home in order for her son to be able to return and live there. They also issued her a ‘humane care’ citation after finding two malnourished pigs with ‘skin issues’ believed to be caused by straw mites in an outbuilding.” ChicagoTribune.com reported, “One of the public agencies that had associated with EARTH Animal Sanctuary was DuPage County Animal Services, which had placed more than 70 animals there since 2014, in part because the sanctuary accepted barn animals, said Laura Flamion, operations manager for the agency. … ‘I don’t think we had been alerted to anything concerning,’ she said.”

January 2020/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh.CBSLocal.com reported that state authorities had launched an investigation into a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Four Paws Elkhound Rescue after adopters reported that “they adopted puppies from [the group who] were underfed, sick, covered in feces and hours away from death.” One adopted puppy “quickly deteriorated and had discharge in his eyes and nose. … [He] died the same day he was brought home.” He and six other puppies had reportedly been imported from animal shelters in Texas. According to the report, “Just two weeks after the litter arrived in Pittsburgh, only one of the seven puppies [was] still alive. KDKA confirmed the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture launched an investigation following our call and their conversations with the impacted families. KDKA also learned humane agents out of Westmoreland County opened an investigation and are looking into search warrants.” Another adopted puppy from the litter “wound up at the vet just one hour after meeting her new family. ‘And they told us the dog was in critical condition,’” said the adopter. That puppy died just days later. The surviving puppy reportedly “tested positive for Giardia, causing malnutrition and digestive issues. He also tested positive for canine herpes, a virus nicknamed ‘fading puppy syndrome.’ Lastly, he tested positive for Bordetella, a bacteria associated with upper respiratory infections.” He was expected to survive.

January 2020/Ellisville, Mississippi: HattiesburgAmerican.com reported that “more than 70 animals found neglected” at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Safe and Warm Animal Rescue Mission had been removed. A spokesperson for an adoption group that took in the animals reportedly said, “Some of them were emaciated, malnourished, dehydrated … and out of the 22 we pulled (Jan. 1), 19 of those had some form of malnourishment. After medically assessing the dogs, we didn’t see any reason for them to be underweight other than they weren’t fed.” The “rescue” had allegedly shut down. WDAM.com reported that the adoption group spokesperson said, “They’re dehydrated. Some of them had some wounds from … dog attacks. One of them had a gunshot wound that had healed incorrectly, and he needed some antibiotics and he may need surgery.” It wasn’t reported whether authorities had been alerted or if charges would be pursued.

 January 2020/Volusia County, Florida: News-JournalOnline.com reported that authorities had seized nine cats and seven dogs from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary. According to the report, “records show that multiple employees and volunteers over the past several months have contacted the county with concerns about living conditions that resulted from too many animals, more than 100 at least, and not enough staff. Officials arrived at Journey’s End about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to look for animals that Rachel Barton, the lead shelter veterinarian with Tallahassee Animal Services, recommended be taken into immediate custody, Kevin Captain, a spokesman for Volusia County, said. … After visiting the facility in August, Barton wrote in a forensic veterinary statement that the sanctuary had ‘dangerously exceeded its capacity for care, resulting in undue animal pain and suffering. Staffing is inadequate to meet the basic needs of the animals each day, let alone their advanced medical needs,’ Barton wrote.” A spokesperson for the county reportedly said, “What we found during our investigation is that medications were often expired, improperly dispensed and inadequate.” The county issued an order in July requiring the facility to provide animals with adequate care and reduce the number of animals at the property. The order also reportedly “noted issues with housing conditions for dogs and cats, a lack of routine veterinary inspections, health conditions not being fully managed, and a lack of appropriate vaccinations and licensing.” (See the August 2019/Volusia County, Florida, entry below.) According to the report, Barton “wrote that the situation at Journey’s End is a classic example of rescue and exploitation hoarding. ‘There is broad neglect of their personal health and hygiene, animal health and hygiene, accumulation of clutter and debris and general decay and disrepair of the household,’ Barton wrote. ‘Rescue hoarders often claim they are being persecuted and will typically reject assistance from outside groups.’” The county attorney’s office planned to “file a petition for a hearing on the custody of the animals [who] were removed.” News-JournalOnline.com further reported that county authorities “said the cats were infested with fleas and ear mites and have numerous infections, and the paralyzed animals had infected pressure sores and urinary tract infections” and had “posted several dozen pages of records” and disturbing photos “in an effort to show the community why it felt it was time to take action.”

January 2020/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that authorities had determined that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Woofs, Wiggles n Wags was operating “in violation of the city’s zoning and code ordinances.” According to the report, “[i]n October, ABC15 uncovered questionable conditions inside the rescue, which operates out of home near 52nd Street and Cactus Road. Photos surfaced online showing underfed dogs, dogs cramped in cages, blood and rat feces on the floor.” (See the October 2019/Phoenix, Arizona, entry below.) Reportedly, “[t]hrough a public records request, ABC15 received documentation showing numerous complaints filed by residents against the home. Documents state in November, an inspector visited the owner, Melanie Murphy, and told her by boarding and selling animals there, she was in violation of the city’s zoning and code ordinances.” Murphy was reportedly appealing a notice of violation.

January 2020/Jacksonville, Florida: Jacksonville.com reported that 18 cats, a hamster, and a sugar glider had died in a fire at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Dreidel’s House Cat Rescue. One cat was reportedly missing, and 16 animals survived at the single-family home where they had been hoarded. Responding firefighters reportedly fought “flames and pull[ed] animals out of the smoke filled interior of the house. The ones that showed any signs of life were treated with oxygen,” according to the “rescue” owner. It was suspected that the fire started in the home’s kitchen.

 January 2020/Morrisville Borough, Pennsylvania: LevittownNow.com reported that authorities had found 24 homeless cats hoarded in an unheated car by a man who said he “had been trying to keep them out of the elements.” It was believed that the animals had been found abandoned at an apartment complex. A spokesperson for a local animal adoption group reportedly “said she is aware there are cat colonies in the area … and it’s not uncommon for people to leave their felines behind when they move from nearby apartments.” The animals were surrendered to authorities and were “being treated for various ailments, including fleas, dehydration, and being underweight.”

December 2019/Austin, Texas: KVUE.com reported that an Austin-area nonprofit group had removed 58 dogs from the property of an unnamed self-professed animal “rescue,” where they had been found in conditions “described as ‘horrific.’” A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “The ammonia from urine and three inches of feces and debris littered the house and stung our eyes. We found dogs were living in closets with rats crawling on them and they were defecating all over the house.” She said that despite the horrific conditions and the “rescuer’s” failing health, he kept acquiring dogs “because he feared the local animal shelter would kill them.” The dogs who were removed were reportedly “transported to multiple shelters not just in Texas, but across the country—to states like Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio.”

December 2019/Guilderland, New York: AltamontEnterprise.com reported that Marcia and Charles Scott, the owners and operators of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Happy Cat Rescue Inc., had each been “charged with six counts of ‘Torture/Injure/Failure to Feed an Animal.’” A spokesperson for the local humane society reportedly said that it had received a complaint from someone who adopted a cat from the “rescue.” According to a woman who claimed to be a friend of the adopter, no adoption paperwork had been given to the adopter and “[t]he cat was losing weight and wouldn’t eat.” The animal “tested positive for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and also had bartonella, which can be transmitted to humans, as well as stomatitis.” She said, “The cat had to be euthanized.” A former volunteer reportedly said that cats were kept stacked in cages in a garage: “The cats were always in the garage in cages. … They had cats that were unadoptable with no exercise. … She was adopting out cats that were pregnant, sick, and feral.” An investigation carried out by the humane society and local police officers revealed that approximately 52 cats were hoarded “between the garage and the house” at the “rescue.” “It was overcrowded and not great ventilation. It got to be too many cats,” a humane society spokesperson said. According to the report, “The arrest report filed by the Guilderland Police says six cats were not provided ‘medical attention’ and that 32 cats were not provided ‘proper ventilation.’” Charles Scott reportedly said of two of the animals, “Pinto … has eye issues. And Frankie, a male, has ‘dental issues that we missed …. He was drooling and we didn’t catch it right away.” The Scotts had reportedly made a deal in which they agreed to “permanently cease all operations as a rescue organization and … not ‘possess, reside with, or own any animals’ with the exception of five designated cats [who] are to be returned to them.” In exchange, “if the Scotts for the next six months do not violate the agreement, the charges will be dropped. However, the agreement is to remain in effect for the rest of their lives.”

December 2019/Williamstown, Vermont: WCAX.com reported that a city “public health officer has stepped down after town officials failed to support his efforts to tighten oversight of dog rescue operations.” The dispute was reportedly caused by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Heidi’s Haven Rescue, Inc., which had relocated to the town after it “was run out of Ferrisburgh last year after concerns from local zoning and health officials.” (See the March 2018/Ferrisburgh, Vermont, entry below for details.) The health officer who resigned, Don Angolano, said that “[m]ost of the dogs are kept in plastic crates or metal kennels that don’t meet statutory regulations” and that he’d “fielded complaints from community members and presented evidence of subpar conditions after working with veterinarians and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.” He said, “There have been vets up there that have checked out all of the dogs and have voiced some concerns …. There were dogs there that had open wounds and sores on them.” The town council reportedly rejected a proposed ordinance that “would have given the town the ability to regulate the operation to ensure that the dogs are well cared for.” He said, “This would have just brought her numbers down. This would have required her to have more oversight from the animal control officer and myself or a designated health officer.” The owner of the “rescue,” Sheila McGregor, reportedly declined to comment.

 December 2019/Raytown, Missouri: FOX4KC.com reported that a cat had been left outside a turn-away facility doing business as Midwest Animal ResQ. Surveillance footage showed a man leaving the animal outside in a carrier. The cat was later found “visibly terrified,” and an implanted microchip helped identify the man. According to the report, the “man’s family had contacted Midwest Animal ResQ on Saturday, complaining that [the cat] had been fighting with their other cat.” The group’s website states, “We receive [hundreds] of requests weekly for pet surrenders, and our currently [sic] response time is between 3–4 weeks. From there we will set up a meeting with you and your pet, to make sure we can safely find a great home for your pet, lastly we will set up a date for your pet to be relinquished to our program.” The man had reportedly “been turned into [sic] Raytown Animal Control officers” and could be fined.

December 2019/Ashtabula, Ohio: KSHB.com reported that a dog who had been adopted after he had been warehoused for 602 days at an animal adoption group doing business as Ashtabula County Animal Protective League had been returned. The report said the adoption had failed and that “[d]ue to his extended time in a shelter, [the dog] does not do well with other animals. The shelter previously thought he would do well in a home with no male dogs or children, but have learned now that he doesn’t do well with any other animals or children.” No additional details were available.

December 2019/Phoenix, Arizona: APNews.com reported that two self-professed “no-kill” adoption groups doing business as Helping Animals Live On (HALO) Animal Rescue and Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA had “started shipping animals in from rural Arizona, other states and Mexico.” The groups were reportedly in conflict with the government-funded facility doing business as Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) over the shipment of thousands of adoptable dogs from MCACC to facilities in other states. The report said, “The seemingly unnecessary shuffling of animals across state lines has left the animal welfare community at odds. … Heather Allen, president and CEO of HALO Animal Rescue, said the transport program is not the option that’s best for pets, potential owners or taxpayers.” A spokesperson for MCACC reportedly told the outlet that “shipments of animals leav[e] the state on planes and in vans almost weekly” and end up at facilities “in New Mexico, Utah, Idaho and Washington state.”

December 2019/Warren Township, New Jersey: MyCentralJersey.com reported that Toni Turco, the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Home for Good Dog Rescue Inc., had been “charged with 15 counts of fourth-degree falsifying records for the purpose of deceiving prospective pet owners, two counts of fourth-degree knowingly selling and/or exposing to human contact a pet with a contagious or infectious disease, and a single count of third-degree coercion by threatening to harm an employee’s reputation or livelihood, authorities said.” Employee Richard Errico was “charged with a single count of fourth-degree false advertising for the purpose of deceiving prospective pet owners.” The charges were reportedly “the result of a long-term joint investigation of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the Special Prosecutions Unit of the Prosecutor’s Office.” The group, which claims to import dogs for adoption from animal shelters “in the South,” was allegedly found to have “been removing negative information from some of their dogs’ intake forms before putting them up for adoption. The investigation found the shelter did that more than a dozen times.” DailyVoice.com reported that “[i]f convicted, Errico faces up to 18 months in prison, while Turco may face three to five years in prison if found guilty on the third-degree charges.”

December 2019/St. Augustine, Florida: ActionNewsJax.com reported that 11 cats and birds had died in a fire at a self-professed “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as Ayla’s Acres No-Kill Animal Rescue. A cat who was found badly burned was taken to a veterinary hospital, where he died. It was suspected that the fire had been started by a space heater. The report said that the “sanctuary” had been “destroyed” and that “about 140 unadoptable animals” had survived and “need a home.”

December 2019/O’Fallon, Illinois: KMOV.com reported that two cats had died in a fire at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Randy’s Rescue Ranch. CBS58.com reported that owner Randy Grim said that when firefighters opened the door of a burning building that housed “disabled animals” on the property, “three dogs in wheelchairs came running out.” Firefighters “rescued two paralyzed dogs that were inside, but two senior cats did not make it.” According to the report, “Officials said the fire started with an exterior light that was spewing sparks.”

December 2019/Lincoln, Nebraska: 1011Now.com reported that Kandice Bremer, the former owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as All Hounds on Deck, had been cited for violating a court order that prohibited her from having custody of more than eight animals. Authorities reportedly executed a search warrant at her property, where they found 16 dogs and cats, including “six dogs and two cats she was not authorized to have.” The court order that Bremer had violated was apparently made when she was charged with cruelty to animals in September. (See the September 2019/Lincoln, Nebraska, entry below for details.)

December 2019/Brownwood, Texas: BigCountryHomepage.com reported that the incoming president of a nonprofit—which is partly funded with public money—doing business as the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center had fired three employees and described conditions at the facility as “unacceptable.” Debra Dixon filed a complaint with the police department and reportedly said that animals were found “[s]itting in feces and urine. Sitting on cement floors in cages and many of them don’t even have a bottom. It’s just wired. They’re on sheets.” Former director Carren Bowden had reportedly “been the director for four years—looking toward a goal of [being] a no-kill shelter.” She said, “You’re damned if you … euthanize, so what are you supposed to do with all the overflow of animals that [come] in. And, that’s something people don’t understand—people out in the public.” Dixon said an “overwhelming foul odor, with feces and urine everywhere” was the norm at the facility. She explained that “the dogs were never taken out to relieve themselves or taken for walks.” She said, “It’s cruel to force an animal from one crate into another. You don’t know which ones are [housetrained]. It’s painful for the animals if they’re housebroken.” The facility was reportedly in the process of hiring a new director.

December 2019/Jackson County, Illinois: KFVS12.com reported that three kittens were missing after a transport vehicle carrying 45 animals that was owned by a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” group doing business as Wright-Way Rescue had been involved in a serious accident. According to the report, “The transport vehicle was cut apart during the crash and all of the crates holding the animals were destroyed in the crash.” DailyHerald.com reported that a puppy and a kitten were killed in the accident. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that “[t]he animals were being taken from [the group’s] Murphysboro facility in southern Illinois to its shelter in Morton Grove.” NBCChicago.com reported that a dog injured in the crash “spent four days in the emergency room for injuries including a broken leg and lung contusions.”

December 2019/Watervliet, New York: WNYT.com reported that authorities had seized 12 kittens from Samantha Valentine, a former foster caregiver for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Kitten Angels. Valentine was reportedly facing charges, including forgery and animal abuse, after “she posed as a worker for … Kitten Angels, and used fake documents to sell kittens.” According to the report, “Police say Valentine was actually trying to start her own adoption business and sold at least two kittens [who] were ill and then died.” One of the kittens died within hours of being adopted, and another died a day after adoption. TimesUnion.com reported that two dogs had also been seized from Valentine and that she had been charged “with felony possession of a forged instrument and forgery as well as misdemeanor scheme to defraud, injuring/not feeding an animal and sale of a [diseased] animal.” She was arraigned and released on probation.

December 2019/Manistee, Michigan: 9And10News.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility—which is apparently contracted to provide Manistee County with sheltering services—doing business as Homeward Bound Animal Shelter was full and “[couldn’t] take in anymore dogs or cats until the ones they have [were] adopted.” No additional details were available.

December 2019/Elyria, Ohio: MorningJournal.com reported that “[a]n Illinois woman ha[d] filed a lawsuit against the Lorain County commissioners and the Lorain County Dog Kennel alleging her daughter, who is a minor, was ‘viciously’ attacked by a dog up for adoption.” The dog had reportedly “been surrendered on two prior occasions due to ‘vicious, antisocial and aggressive behavior,’” information that the family says was not shared with them when they were placed in a closed room with the animal. The pit bull mix “latched onto” her daughter’s head, resulting “in multiple lacerations to the girl’s scalp and right ear, requiring 24 staples and several sutures, the suit says.” The dog was reportedly “recommended for adoption for a family with a two-year-old child.” The mother was “seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $25,000.”

December 2019/Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: CBC.ca reported that a dog adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Penny’s All-Breed Animal Rescue Inc. had attacked the adopter “just weeks” later. Describing the attack, she said, “I petted him, and then all of a sudden … he started to bare his teeth and growled ferociously, and then before I knew it he was leaping up toward my jugular. … The battle ensued. I pushed into his mouth, and this arm is fairly well chewed up. … One of the bites actually went into one of my bones … I collapsed.” She reportedly “suffered a severe bite to her left forearm, which fractured one of the bones. She has cuts and scratches on her chest and other arm. She’s since had surgery and needed a metal plate and screws put into her arm, which she will have the rest of her life.” The dog had reportedly been imported into the country from South Korea and had “never ever shown any signs of aggression,” according to the “rescue’s” owner. He was quarantined after the attack, and authorities were investigating.

December 2019/Lakeway, Texas: KXAN.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Austin Pets Alive! had adopted out a pit bull who was allegedly known to be aggressive toward smaller dogs to Patricia Stanford, who is “tied to multiple [dog] attacks of people—and other dogs.” According to the report, “Erica Curtis and her bulldog were badly injured after being bitten by Stanford’s two dogs. The animals are tied to attacks on other dogs and injuries to humans—in addition to the dogs simply running around unleashed.” Curtis filed a lawsuit against Stanford, and the two dogs involved were “banned in the city of Lakeway through a court order that required Stanford to house them with a relative in Midland, Texas. . . .   According to Lakeway PD documents, one of Stanford’s dogs was found roaming miles from her home back on September 6. The Austin Animal Center took the dog in, but later returned [the animal] to Stanford. In a statement to KXAN Monday, the AAC said that Lakeway’s ban was out of its jurisdiction. On September 13, another Lakeway police report says one of Stanford’s dogs was loose and tried to attack a neighbor’s puppy.” In an e-mail, Lakeway Animal Protection Officer Andrea Greig wrote, “Austin Pets Alive adopted out another pitbull to Patricia Stanford. I contacted them and they told me she adopted a dog that does attack little dogs. I feel she purposely got this dog because [he or she] attacks. I just can’t believe Austin Pets Alive as a rescue does not do even, Google lookups. To say I am livid is an understatement.”

December 2019/Norman, Oklahoma: NormanTranscript.com reported that the city-funded animal shelter, doing business as Norman Animal Welfare Center, requires appointments to accept animals from residents who have animals for whom they can’t—or won’t—care. The report revealed that, “[a]ccording to data analyzed from Animal Welfare at the end of 2018, the shelter was taking an average of 56 days for an owner on the waiting list to receive an update. At the beginning of September, there were nearly 100 animals on the waiting list. . . . As time goes by for owners on the waiting list, owners often begin to look for other avenues for their pets. … [I]t’s common for some pets to be dropped off in rural parts of Norman.” A spokesperson for the city’s Animal Welfare Oversight Committee reportedly explained, “Some of these animals that get dropped off haven’t been spayed, neutered or vaccinated .… [T]his often leads to cats and dogs getting pregnant and having litters, which adds to the animal population. This creates a lot more work for Animal Welfare officers to pick up these animals. In a way, it’s just like kicking the can down the road.”

November 2019/Rowe, New Mexico: SantaFeNewMexican.com reported that authorities had seized 29 dogs from a self-professed animal “refuge” owned by Jessica Taylor. According to IRS.gov, Taylor is the owner of a nonprofit doing business as Green Gates Animal Sanctuary.

The animals had reportedly “been kept in a series of outdoor kennels and in a barn, or left running loose” at her property. According to the report, “Authorities in February charged Taylor with 35 counts of abusing animals—including several felony counts—after San Miguel County sheriff’s deputies seized 26 dogs, two goats and four cats from another property she owns in nearby Ilfeld. . . . Along with the animals seized during the Ilfeld raid in January, court records said, deputies collected carcasses of four dead dogs and a dead goat, as well as animal bones. . . . Dr. Jennifer Steketee, a veterinarian . . . said the case illustrates the need for better oversight of animal shelters, sanctuaries and rescues. ‘It is too easy for someone to obtain nonprofit status, receive support from well-meaning animal lovers and not actually provide a good quality of life for the animals in their care,’ Steketee said.” The seized animals were reportedly being held in temporary situations until another self-professed “sanctuary” was built in Madrid. That property was not yet fully fenced and had no well or running water. The self-professed “rescuer” building it reportedly “said she plans to live in a recreational vehicle on the land with her partner, Jason Jones, while they build kennels and other structures, which she said will take months. She bought a second RV this week for the dogs to sleep in at night while construction continues.”

 November 2019/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that an employee of the Austin Animal Center had been transported to a hospital “for serious injuries sustained from a dog bite, according to Austin-Travis County EMS and the Austin Animal Center. The animal center says the dog was in the process of being removed from his kennel when the attack happened.” The dog had reportedly been confined at the facility since September and “had several incidents on record.” He was euthanized after the attack.

November 2019/Des Moines, Iowa: KCCI.com reported that Tina Petraline, the owner of a self-professed “dog rescue” doing business as Unbreakabull Bullies, had been arrested for hoarding 17 dogs in her home. City code reportedly doesn’t allow more than three dogs at any one property. It was reportedly “Petraline’s fifth citation this year.”

November 2019/Nevada, Texas: WFAA.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Astasia’s Angels Animal Rescue. The animals included dogs, cats, and a bearded dragon who were found in a doublewide trailer in which, according to the report, authorities said, “[T]he ammonia levels, mostly found in urine, were very high.” A spokesperson for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas said, “The animals are suffering from a variety of issues includ[ing] long nails, eye issues, ear issues, flea infestations, [and skin] issues, and so today our medical team started right away evaluating the animals.” The Collin County sheriff reportedly described the conditions as “reprehensible.” It wasn’t reported whether charges were being considered.

November 2019/Erie, Pennsylvania: ErieNewsNow.com reported that a man had been “arrested on animal cruelty charges for drowning his cat in a bathtub in early November.” He reportedly “told investigators he was going to take [the cat] to an animal shelter but said he knew they had a lot of cats and though[t] they would charge him a fee.” After drowning the animal, he put the body in a trash can outside his home. According to the report, during the investigation “[i]nvestigators asked [the suspect] to show his arms, which had two fresh scratches inside his right wrist area. He told them the scratches came from [the cat] who fought him during the drowning.” The suspect reportedly refused to surrender a second cat in the home. GoErie.com later reported that an animal adoption group had secured custody of the surviving cat.

November 2019/Tampa, Florida: WFLA.com reported that the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center had been “dumping 3-pound kittens, roughly 3 months of age, on the streets as part of its Community Cat program.” According to the report, the most recent program guidelines don’t “mention, as [they] previously did, that cats will be released in areas where caretakers can feed [them and] provide water and medical care for them. In 2016, we reported that 45% of PRC Director Scott Trebatoski’s annual evaluation is tied to increasing live release rates at the county shelter by 5% each year. . . . PRC slated a 3-month-old kitten now named Luigi, his brother and mother for the feral cat program. Lauren Tillotson of CJPaws rescued them. Luigi was just over 3 pounds, his brother weighed just under 3. Luigi was sick with upper respiratory and contagious eye infections, but PRC scheduled to send him out on the streets anyway. … ‘No one would take a 5-year-old child and drive them out to the Bronx and dump them off on a corner and say, “hope you do okay!” Lauren Tillotson said. But in Hillsborough County, 3 pounds is all it takes to get a kitten out the door.” A later report revealed that “Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center is lining up sick and injured animals to turn over [to] the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which in turn eventually dumps them back into neighborhoods all at taxpayers’ expense. 8 On Your Side has discovered the county slated several sick and injured cats and kittens to be neutered, vaccinated then released by the Humane Society. . . . Lauren Tillotson rescued a 3 lb kitten now called Luigi from the TNVR list. ‘He was not healthy when we pulled him,’ Lauren said. ‘His sheet indicates he has an eye condition and that it is infectious.’ She also pulled Luigi’s brother and mother. ‘Their mother, when we received her, had a very high fever, she was not responsive,’ Lauren added. Another cat they pulled from the TNVR list has a permanent limp in a hind leg, is unable to run or jump, is unafraid of large dogs and would not have lived long on the streets. ‘It seems to be mostly about the money, it’s let’s get them out and away as cheaply as possible and let’s keep as many live release numbers as we can,’ Lauren said.”

November 2019/Indianapolis, Indiana: TheIndyChannel.com reported that “Indianapolis Animal Care Services has another full house at the city shelter.” The facility’s deputy director reportedly said, “To accommodate the animals that continue to come into the shelter, staff members have started setting up portable crates for them to stay in until a kennel opens up.” The facility was reportedly giving away animals for free.

November 2019/Middle River, Maryland: Baltimore.CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized 150 live and 74 dead cats found hoarded in a home operated by a “trap, neuter, vaccinate and release” group doing business as Colony Cats of Bird River and Beyond. An animal adoption group had reportedly alerted authorities because “[Colony Cats owner] Pamela Arrington would regularly bring cats to [another group] to be checked and diagnosed by … veterinarians, who sent a letter [to authorities] with their concerns. The letter described terrible conditions including cats and kittens with a ‘foul, indescribable odor,’ adding that she sometimes had the odor on her as well. ‘She has also brought us a few kittens who were in incredibly bad shape and refused our medical services and offer to have these sickly kittens admitted into our shelter program, stating she could offer better care of them,’ the letter said.” According to a report by an animal services investigator, when investigators “entered the garage [at her home, they] ‘were immediately met with very high levels of cat urine smell and ammonia.’ ‘My eyes and nose immediately started to burn and run and I had trouble speaking while in the garage,’” wrote the investigator. Other complaints received, apparently from neighbors, expressed concern about conditions because “the odor from her home can be smelled from the street.” Investigators found the home’s “garage … filled with uncleaned cages and litter boxes, and some cats had either no water in their bowls or no bowls at all.” Inside the home, “[t]hey saw cages stacked two stories high which each had anywhere from one to five cats, and most had more feces than kitty litter inside. As the officials passed several cages, the cats inside thrashed around the cages and climbed up on the cage walls—something [an investigator] said meant the cats were experiencing starvation.” During an initial search of the garage, “[t]hey determined there were 76 cats contained within the cages, and approximately half of them had conjunctivitis, infections, leukemia, ulcers and upper respiratory infections. Through their search, they also found 15 dead cats, some in white styrofoam boxes that had been put on top of cages with live cats.” During a second search that included the home, investigators “found 74 live cats, 59 dead cats, two dogs and one bird. Some of the dead cats were found in the kitchen freezer. Some of the cats were caged, while others roamed free in the home, the report said. Officers describe[d] feces smeared across furniture, along with garbage[.]” Owners Garriott Cox and Pamela Arrington were facing multiple counts of cruelty to animals and were out on bond. They were reportedly suing police to regain custody of the animals.

November 2019/Grinnell, Iowa: TheSandB.com reported that surveillance cameras had captured footage of a resident driving up to a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Poweshiek Animal League Shelter with a dog in the backseat. He could reportedly be seen getting out of the vehicle and trying to open the facility’s door. In the footage, when it became apparent that the facility was closed, he then “tie[d] the dog to a pet carrier in the cold, and then [drove] off.” Authorities identified the man, who reportedly “defended himself by saying that ‘since his rifle wasn’t working, this was the dog’s best option.’” The dog was found after spending hours outdoors and was described as scared and underweight. The facility reportedly has a waiting list and turns animals away when it’s full.

 November 2019/Niagara Falls, New York: WKBW.com reported that three board members, an executive director, and a veterinary technician had resigned from a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Niagara SPCA. A total of seven board members had reportedly “resigned since September 2018, claiming they can no longer be connected to the organization.” Those who had recently resigned were reportedly alleging “mismanagement and animal neglect” at the facility run by the group. The report said, “In one case, according to documents, a cat went untreated for four months with painful mouth and dental issues. SPCA volunteers finally pooled their own money to take the cat for help at a local vet. In a separate case, board members and volunteers say a cat’s eye infection went untreated for so long, the eye needed to be removed.” The current executive director, Tim Brennan, reportedly said that eyes were surgically removed from at least 13 kittens at the facility because of severe infections.

November 2019/Tustin, California: LosAngeles.CBSLocal.com reported that its investigation into a public shelter that was trying to operate as a “no-kill” facility doing business as Orange County Animal Care “found some of the dogs up for adoption … had a dangerous past and, in some cases, the shelter wasn’t telling people who want to adopt.” One dog, named Bubba, had reportedly attacked an adopter’s roommate: “He just [ran] at his feet and [was] just biting at his feet, and that’s when my roommate had to jump on the counter,” the adopter said. The report revealed that “CBS2 obtained the shelter’s own records about Bubba and his previous owner, which stated the dog had to be impounded and put in quarantine after Bubba grabbed on to a woman’s hand and her daughter and wouldn’t let go.” The dog was eventually returned to the facility, which transferred him to an adoption group. The outlet reported that it had “obtained internal records which show 32 dogs with bite histories at the shelter. Twenty-three had no warnings or any information about biting previous owners on their kennel cards.” When asked on camera about the appearance of hiding bite histories from adopters, the facility’s director, Mike Kaviani, said, “When you’re dating, on the first date do you say all the things that you’re really trying to work on as a human being? No, you’re not airing that on the first date. Are you lying about that? Absolutely not.” The investigation “also found the shelter drugged dozens of dogs. In internal records CBS2 obtained, some dogs were treated with the anti-depressant Trazodone.”

November 2019/Hampton, Virginia: DailyPress.com reported that a dog had been confined for more than 10 years at a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Animal Aid Society, Inc. He was described by a volunteer as having “a biting problem.” The facility reportedly fails to comply with state regulations established to ensure the adequate care of animals at shelters and adoption groups and could face “thousands of dollars in potential fines.” Those currently seeking to adopt were reportedly not allowed to “go into the maze of kennels to see the dogs.” The group was trying to raise funds to make the improvements needed to comply with the minimum standards required by state law.

November 2019/Moses Lake, Washington: ColumbiaBasinHerald.com reported that two homeless kittens had been found “starving and filthy” at a homeless camp. They were picked up by a resident who tried to get them help at area animal shelters. The resident called a publicly funded facility doing business as Grant County Animal Outreach, but said he was told the facility was full and would not accept the kittens. He then called a self-professed “rescue,” which is partially funded with public monies, doing business as Adams County Pet Rescue. He was told that the facility was full and would not accept the animals. He said he was put on a waiting list but had not received a call after six weeks. During that time, one of the kittens died because of a lack of needed medical care. The other was still alive at the time of the report.

 November 2019/Greenwood, Mississippi: MagnoliaStateLive.com reported that a nonprofit facility (partially funded with public monies) doing business as Leflore County Humane Society had “been over capacity for months” and had stopped “taking in any animals brought in by the public.” The facility’s interim director reportedly said that “the shelter turns away at least 10 animals daily.” The group’s board president reportedly said that she “doesn’t remember ever turning away so many animals for so long.” A new facility was reportedly “in the works,” but “the shelter’s capacity will stay the same despite the increased shelter size.”

November 2019/Coronado, California: 10News.com reported that a resident had found a plastic travel carrier containing a cat and five kittens abandoned on a roadside. Another resident reportedly claimed that he or she had also found an abandoned carrier containing cats alongside a busy road. According to their websites, two area animal shelters (doing business as San Diego Humane Society and Coronado Animal Care Facility) both require appointments and charge fees to accept animals, common “no-kill” policies designed to discourage people from taking animals to sheltering facilities.

November 2019/Sahuarita, Arizona: GVNews.com reported that just days after he was taken home, a pit bull adopted from a public facility doing business as Pima Animal Care Center attacked and killed the adopter’s Chihuahua. The adopter reportedly told responding officers that the Chihuahua was lying on the couch when the pit bull attacked her. The adopter sustained bruises to her hands trying to pry the pit bull’s jaws open, but he would not let go of the smaller dog until she was dead. The adopted dog was euthanized after a quarantine period.

November 2019/New Carlisle, Ohio: WHIO.com reported that three people had been transported to the hospital, one of whom was in critical condition, after they were attacked by a pit bull at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pawsitive Warriors Rescue. The dog, named Mayhem, had allegedly “show[n] no signs of aggression before Monday night’s attack.” After the attack, he was reportedly “being taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized.” No additional information was available.

 October 2019/Cheatham County, Tennessee: WKRN.com reported that a resident had been seen on surveillance footage abandoning two kittens in a plastic storage container at a Dollar General store after being turned away from a public facility doing business as Cheatham County Animal Control. The facility reportedly requires appointments before it will accept animals. According to the report, an animal control officer said that “a man found the kittens in bad shape and contacted their agency. ‘They were hungry, a little dehydrated, covered in feces and urine, and they were really hot inside the container.’”

October 2019/Donora, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh.CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 175 animals from a home and an abandoned church next to it. More animals were seized from another home in Monessen in connection to the case. According to a spokesperson for a group assisting with the seizure, “the animals appear[ed] to lack veterinary care and were living in filth. ‘The conditions are truly filthy, really horrific conditions that we’re seeing right now,’” she said. Many of the cats found were reportedly in the church, which was described as “dilapidated” by first responders. They were found “in crates that were allegedly overflowing with feces, and rescuers couldn’t see any food or water.” The report said that “[a]uthorities arrested Christie Harr, though that arrest was based on a 2018 case of alleged animal cruelty.” She was later released on bond. Harr is the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Animal Orphans Animal Rescue & Pet Sanctuary, Inc. Two neighbors interviewed by the outlet reportedly said “that Harr considered her home a ‘sanctuary for animals’ and that she tried to adopt them out.”

 October 2019/Raytown, Missouri: FOX4KC.com reported that after being turned away from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Midwest Animal ResQ, which was reportedly “at capacity for cats,” a couple abandoned a cat in the facility’s parking lot. They reportedly claimed to have found the cat, but an implanted microchip pointed to a self-professed “no-kill” animal adoption group doing business as Wayside Waifs, Inc., which had adopted the cat out to the couple. The animal was to be returned to that group, and plans were reportedly made to notify authorities.

October 2019/Norwich, New York: WBNG.com reported that five cats had been left in the parking lot of a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Chenango SPCA. They were found in a crate between two cars in the lot. According to the report, “[t]he shelter was planning on taking in several cats from their waiting list before the five were dropped off, leaving it now out of room. The Chenango SPCA works primarily to take care of strays, but also takes in other cases. If [it doesn’t] have room, [it’ll] place animal owners on a waiting list.” A spokesperson for the group reportedly said that “when there are too many cats, they’re forced to make dire decisions like putting animals in hallways.” The group also charges fees to accept animals, according to its website.

October 2019/Southfield, Michigan: WXYZ.com reported that the city of Southfield had ended its contract with a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Almost Home Animal Rescue, which had been operating the city’s animal shelter. In a news release, the city reportedly listed “ongoing issues which led to severed ties,” including the following:

  • Failure to accept animals brought in by Southfield Police Department and animal control officers as required
  • Failure to accept animals surrendered by Southfield residents
  • Failure to adhere to safety protocols and procedures resulting in several serious injuries to Almost Home employees, volunteers, and others from vicious dog attacks

“The organization has repeatedly failed to adhere to the terms of the contract with the city of Southfield,” the release said. The city was apparently taking animals to the county’s animal shelter while working on a permanent solution.

October 2019/Jonestown, Pennsylvania: Philadelphia.CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized 98 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue.” The animals included 83 cats and 10 dogs who were “found with untreated medical conditions and living in unsanitary conditions.” Five dead cats were also removed. Authorities reportedly said that most of the surviving cats were suffering from eye conditions and respiratory infections and many of the dogs were “extremely thin.” WGAL.com reported that Greta Rank was the owner of the “rescue.” An investigation was reportedly undertaken after “one of Rank’s volunteers sent the SPCA photos and videos showing two deceased cats and others roaming freely. According to [authorities], the animals were living in unsanitary conditions, with many of them in enclosures with accumulated feces and urine.” Charges were reportedly pending the outcome of the investigation. In 2015, LDNews.com reported that Rank operated a group called Grrs and Purrs. The report said that “people, including state police, have been dropping off stray cats and dogs [at Rank’s] for years,” and that “many programs and shelters have worked with her.”

 October 2019/Grand Junction, Colorado: NBC11News.com reported that “[f]ormer volunteers at the Grand Valley Pit Bull Rescue Center are making serious accusations of dog neglect against the owner. … [They] claim the man has thirty pit bulls inside his home. They say only a select few of the dogs are allowed to go outside each day, for about 45 minutes a day. Other than that they claim the dogs have to stay in the kennels. They add that during the seven months of working there, no dogs we[re] bathed or groomed.” They also alleged that dogs would often escape enclosures, leading to fights and injuries. The former volunteers said they had alerted authorities.

October 2019/Austin, Texas: AustinMonitor.com reported that Austin City Council members had “approved a set of controversial amendments to city code” regarding “no-kill” policies at the city’s animal services center, despite opposition from shelter volunteers, veterinarians, residents, animal advocates, and business owners, who warned that such policies can have inhumane and dangerous consequences. One resident reportedly said the city shelter’s statistics “are misleading as they indicate only an animal’s condition upon leaving the shelter, ignoring health and life span from that point forward.” A local business owner and shelter volunteer was reportedly concerned because “the numbers are particularly deceptive in relation” to a program that sterilizes and abandons homeless cats, including at “high-traffic intersections or commercial sites.” According to the report, “[s]everal residents also took exception to a section of the ordinance that prohibits performing euthanasia” except under certain circumstances. An animal advocate “said the language could be interpreted to mean that the city is dictating what veterinarians can do and when, putting them in the position of choosing between their professional code of ethics or city code.” A veterinarian at the Central Texas Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital, which had reportedly treated more than 800 shelter animals in 2019, “said that if the city wishes to impose such restrictions, it will also need to choose where to send those animals in the future. ‘If we as veterinarians do not have the right to make those decisions on site and we have to watch patients suffer unduly because of a ‘no kill clause,’ then we will no longer be able to provide services for the city of Austin or the Austin Animal Center.’” Another animal advocate reportedly criticized a section of the code regarding dangerous dogs, saying, “Reserving euthanasia only for dogs who have already caused a ‘severe’ injury … allows dogs with bite histories back into the community where they may do further harm.”

October 2019/Wanette, Oklahoma: KXII.com reported that a 9-year-old girl had been attacked by three dogs while outside riding her bike. The dogs had reportedly escaped from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Forgotten Treasures Animal Rescue. The report said that “[t]he dogs reportedly [had] never shown any signs of aggression. They broke out of their pen when no one was around.” The girl sustained “‘dog bites and several severe lacerations,’ according to court documents. Investigators [said she’d] likely need dozens of stitches, and she could have lasting nerve damage that could affect her mobility.” The “rescue’s” owner allegedly said that the dogs would be euthanized.

October 2019/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that a former volunteer at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Woofs, Wiggles n Wags alleged that “[f]our years after ABC15 uncovered questionable conditions inside the animal rescue Woofs, Wiggles N Wags,” no improvements had been made. She reportedly said that “she stayed at [“rescue” operator Melanie] Murphy’s home for about four months last spring. During her stay, she says she saw blood on the floor, dogs sitting in their own feces, rat feces in cages, and underfed dogs. ‘I counted 40 to 50 dogs,’ she said. ‘Animals will sit in their cages for 20-23 hours a day.’” Authorities reportedly confirmed that there was an open investigation into the allegations.

October 2019/Houston, Texas: ABC30.com reported that a resident had “been arrested after authorities say she threw a malnourished dog out of her car window.” She reportedly told authorities that “an old roommate left the puppy behind. [She] told deputies she couldn’t find a place to take the dog so she decided to leave the puppy on the side of the road.” The dog was found barely able to stand, “severely underweight,” and with overgrown nails. Authorities believed that “it likely took months of neglect for her to get to this condition.” According to the city’s website, the public animal shelter, doing business as BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions, only accepts animals after two separate visits, seven days apart, and has other restrictions.

October 2019/New London, North Carolina: TheSNAPOnline.com reported that the Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had “opened an investigation into the potential operation of [two] unregistered animal shelters” being operated by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Project Pawz. In a letter to the group, the agency had reportedly directed it to “cease operating as an animal shelter at both locations and find suitable accommodations for any animals currently in the care and custody of these facilities, until you have obtained a certificate of registration.” The letter reportedly said that owner Wendy Laney “was in violation of a state statute for running an animal shelter without the certificate of registration and could face a civil penalty of up to $5,000.” According to the report, “Stanly County Manager Andy Lucas said the county has attempted to work with Project Pawz. ‘Ms. Laney has not complied with our regulations that in order to adopt animals you have to provide evidence of spaying and neutering them,’ Lucas said. ‘And the whole purpose of that, obviously, is so that you’re not just taking the animals and just sort of exacerbating the problem, and they’re out there repopulating again … She hasn’t complied with that for a long period of time.’”

October 2019/Cobb County, Georgia: WSBTV.com reported that state authorities had suspended the license of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Half the Way Home after a former volunteer filed a complaint. An adoption group reportedly removed 88 of the 108 cats found at the property. A spokesperson for the group said that “some cats had broken bones and runny eyes.” The former volunteer said she contacted authorities after observing animals at the “rescue”: “They were all laying in their own vomit and diarrhea, screaming. There’s a lot of cats that need medical care,” she said. The report stated, “The attorney for Half the Way Home said the rescue plans to fundraise over the next two years and return with more structure.”

October 2019/Middlebrook, Virginia: WHSV.com reported that a woman who admitted to shooting “a litter of puppies and then dumping them over an embankment,” would not serve any jail time. According to the report, “Betsy Hemp, of Middlebrook, was convicted of six misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty on Sept. 24. She also pleaded guilty to six charges of illegal dumping in connection with her disposal of the puppies’ bodies.” During testimony, Hemp reportedly “said she was angry and frustrated that even though she tried to do the right thing, she wasn’t able to find a place for the animals. … Hemp advertised the litter of puppies for sale and contacted the SPCA and the Shenandoah Valley Regional Animal Services Center. The SPCA was full and unable to take the dogs and since they belonged to her son, SVASC would not take them without his permission. After that, Hemp said she was frustrated and angry, so she took the puppies out back, shot them to death, and disposed of the bodies.” As part of Hemp’s sentence, she was required “to complete 500 hours … of community service and pay a $1,500 fine for the charges of illegal dumping …. She’ll also have to carry out 60 hours of litter abatement.”

October 2019/Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee: NewsChannel5.com reported that the Clay County sheriff had “been desperately calling various organizations for help” in housing cats from a hoarding situation after their owner was admitted to hospice care and the animals had been surrendered. However, he reported that “most places aren’t taking cats right now.” A resident who was trying to help said, “Dead cats are everywhere. There’s dead pigs out in the field. It’s horrible. I mean it’s so deplorable in there. … There’s feces everywhere, the ammonia smell in the house is through the roof.” Sixteen cats were taken to a veterinary hospital. It wasn’t known how many cats remained at the property or what ultimately happened to them.

October 2019/Josephine County, Oregon: FOX26Medford.com reported that a wire crate containing 14 cats, two ferrets, and a dog had been left outside, apparently overnight, at a public turn-away facility doing business as Josephine County Animal Shelter. The facility explains on its website that it charges fees to accept animals ($15 per cat and $50 per dog), requires appointments, and will only accept two socialized cats per day.

October 2019/Pell City, Alabama: CBS42.com reported that a resident, who neighbors said “was trying to help … stray cats,” and her husband had been charged with cruelty to animals after authorities found 47 cats and three dogs, along with an unspecified number of dead animals, confined in conditions described as “deplorable” at their home. A press release issued by the Pell City Police Department reportedly stated: “‘This home was covered in roaches and did not have water. There was feces covering the floors and it was difficult to breath[e].’ Officers found that many of the animals were malnourished and flea-infested while others were missing eyes and appeared abused. ‘This was the worst scene where people were living that I have seen in my entire career in law enforcement or in the Marine [Corps],’ Chief Paul Irwin of the Pell City Police Department said in a written statement.” City officials were reportedly working to condemn the home.

October 2019/Forney, Alabama: GadsdenTimes.com reported that authorities had seized 41 dogs, three cats, two turtles, and one rabbit, along with three dead animals, from a residence where they had been hoarded. The owner, Ruth Pauline Staggs, reportedly “operated an animal rescue at some point, and hosted pet adoption events” at a local store. The animals were found confined in inhumane conditions. Dogs were malnourished, and some were described as being “in extremely bad shape.” According to the report, “The Department of Human Resources was contacted regarding the older woman—Staggs’ mother—who was living there.” Staggs was charged with 47 counts of cruelty to animals, and the investigation was ongoing.

October 2019/Atascosa County, Texas: GoSanAngelo.com reported that authorities had charged two self-professed animal “rescuers” with four counts each of cruelty to animals and were continuing to investigate after more than 120 dogs given to them by the Atascosa County Animal Control (ACAC) shelter had been found abandoned along a highway in three counties. At least one dog was found dead after he or she was hit by a car. Authorities began conducting surveillance on Katreena and Wayne Martin after photos of abandoned dogs that were posted online were matched up with photos of dogs who had apparently been advertised at ACAC before being given to the Martins. According to the report: “The surveillance revealed that at roughly 5:35 p.m. Sept. 29, the couple picked up several dogs in a Dodge minivan from the Atascosa shelter. Law enforcement followed the van for hours and saw it exit I-10 onto an access road. Minutes later, the van returned to I-10, and officers discovered the dogs were let loose on Farm to Market Road 3130, according to court documents. Eight affidavits, totaling nearly 40 pages, showed that three of the four dogs dumped in late September were from Atascosa County Animal Control. . . . In an affidavit, Katreena Martin told officers she had transported thousands of dogs through the years.” The couple reportedly “had a working arrangement with animal control, according to the Atascosa County judge, but details about that arrangement were not provided because of the ongoing investigations.” The county attorney’s office had reportedly launched its own investigation into the case.

October 2019/Tawas City, Michigan: IoscoNews.com reported that state authorities had ordered a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Iosco County Humane Society to reduce the number of cats it was hoarding. According to the report: “There is a sign in front of the building, advising that the facility is not accepting cats at this time. However, staff are put in a difficult position, as people continue to unload their unwanted animals regardless of the cramped quarters.” An employee reportedly “said a woman recently drove up with a box of kittens who were four days old. When she was informed that the shelter wasn’t accepting cats, the woman threatened to throw the animals into a river.” Cats had also been found abandoned at roadsides and in wooded areas of the community. Recently, a resident reportedly “brought in three cats he had contained within a live trap. The animals had gone to the bathroom in the cage, and they were soaking wet when they were brought to the shelter because the man had hosed down the trap while the cats were inside. … [W]hen the man was told that the facility couldn’t take any more cats, he asked if they wanted him to ‘drop them in the woods then.’” It wasn’t reported what happened to the cats.

September 2019/Ola, Arkansas: KARK.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as NovaStar Animal Rescue had been operating in violation of city code. Neighbors had reportedly been filing complaints about the property, where, according to a spokesperson for the group, approximately 30 dogs were being kept, even though a maximum of four dogs was allowed under city code. Authorities reportedly planned to crack down.

September 2019/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that it had “received reports that claim the Austin Animal Center is not properly evaluating and disclosing dogs’ aggressive behaviors before adopting them out to the public.” A resident said that a dog adopted from the facility had attacked his small dog while out on a walk. His dog “suffered severe lacerations and puncture wounds to his neck, resulting in more than 10 staples from a veterinarian.” He said the dog gave “[n]o warning, nothing, and immediately [went] for the neck and start[ed] biting him and dragging him away …. He was going to kill my dog. He had him by the throat.” The report said, “In another case, J.D. Mathison said his girlfriend’s dog, Bailey, was attacked and killed by a pit bull mix, Daisy, who they had recently adopted from the shelter. Mathison said staff provided very limited information about Daisy’s social skills and it was difficult to return Daisy to the shelter after they realized it wasn’t a good fit. J.D. came home from work one day to find Bailey dead. ‘It was like a crime scene in there,’ Mathison said. ‘Our home is kind of tainted now. My girlfriend still sees blood here and there. She’s definitely going to have to see somebody for the traumatic things she saw.’” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said she couldn’t comment on the attacks.

September 2019/Waterville, New York: CNYHomepage.com reported that authorities had seized more than 60 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Whispering Pines Animal Rescue. Authorities revealed that three people, Brenda, Horst, and Joseph Kunze, “were charged with housing animals in unsanitary conditions. Brenda Kunze was also charged with selling sick or diseased animals.” Sixty dogs, four cats, and a bird were reportedly removed. A warrant had reportedly been served after authorities received complaints about sick puppies adopted from the group, six of whom had died of parvovirus, coccidiosis, and/or pneumonia. Authorities said they had “also charged Brenda and Horst Kunze with illegal weapons charges after searching the home where the rescue is located.”

September 2019/Los Fresnos, Texas: BrownsvilleHerald.com reported that authorities had seized 270 dogs and a cat who were found hoarded in a warehouse by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as All Accounted For. Two men, Mark Anthony Trevino and Stephen Clark Woodington, had been arrested and charged with cruelty to animals. KFOXTV.com reported that the sheriff said that “some of the animals were in various stages of malnutrition and in need of medical attention. Some animals were found in feces and urine. Some animals were found in cages, some were three to four together in a kennel.” At a news conference, he said, “Never in my lifetime have I seen anything like this. According to the officers, the conditions were terrible. It would make anybody sick.” According to the report, because of the seizure, “the Cameron County Animal Shelter will be closed until further notice. According to a release, the shelter will also not be accepting animals from the public for placement until further notice.” Bond for both men had reportedly been set at $20,000. ValleyCentral.com reported that neighbors told the outlet that “they heard dogs barking for hours endlessly and all times of the day and night.” According to the county health administrator, “There were cages on top of each other, piled on top, some of the cages had not been cleaned for a while and the warehouse had two garage doors that I imagine were closed during the day. With this heat, it must have been unbearable, limited water, limited food.”

September 2019/Cole Camp, Missouri: USAToday.com reported that Benton County authorities had found more than 120 dead dogs, one dead cat, 38 live dogs, and one live cat at a property that was part of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as All Accounted For (see the September 2019/Los Fresnos, Texas, entry above). According to the report, “Tiffany and Steven Woodington operated All Accounted For, which brought animals from Texas to Missouri, the Benton County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Monday. Authorities said they found nearly 300 animals living at the operations in Texas and Missouri, but that many of the animals had to be euthanized because of poor health. … The Benton County Sheriff’s Office said Steven Woodington was transporting the animals to Cole Camp, Missouri, which is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City. Law enforcement went to a property there, where Tiffany Woodington led them to an old school bus, a barn and a house. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office said it found about 120 dead dogs and a dead cat in ‘various stages of decay, some were just bones’ on Sept. 12. … Authorities also found 38 dogs and one cat ‘alive but in unimaginable conditions.’” The surviving animals were described as “[having] matted [fur] and [being] skinny.” Tiffany Woodington was “charged in Missouri with 10 counts of felony animal abuse and two misdemeanor counts of animal abuse.” Steven Woodington, her husband, was “charged in Texas with 19 counts of animal cruelty. A second man described as the caretaker also was charged in Texas with animal cruelty.”

September 2019/St. Lucie County, Florida: WPTV.com reported that a publicly funded facility doing business as the Humane Society of St. Lucie County had been turning away animals. A spokesperson for an area adoption group reportedly said that members of the public had been taking animals to its facility and saying that they “were told to do so by staff at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County. … She said she was given no communication from the Humane Society of St. Lucie County that more animals would be referred to them. ‘We’ve got a lady bringing in a dog with a massive ear infection and the humane society won’t take [him or her],’” she said, adding, “I think we’re going to see a lot more abandonment, a lot of people that are just letting them go.” The report said that the facility’s contract with the county and two municipalities was ending. (See the August 2019/Fort Pierce, Florida entry for more information.)

September 2019/Ashland, Virginia: WTVR.com reported that a “[d]og with [a] known history of biting [and] causing serious injury [was] continually listed for adoption” by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Bandit’s Adoption and Rescue of K-9’s (BARK). The dog, named Duke, was being fostered by Kim Newcomb three years before the report, when, according to her, “he just snapped, and went after my sister’s dog Jambo … I thought he was going to kill him.” She said that after she and her sister finally managed to pull Duke away, “we got quite a few steps away, and Duke turned and bit down on my leg and didn’t let go.” The injuries she sustained “left her unable to fully walk for two months.” She and her family were traveling in another state at the time. Authorities were called and picked up the dog, who attacked an officer so seriously that “she had to be hospitalized, and was out of work for a while.” The report said, “Now, three years later, Duke is once again up for adoption at [BARK].” Newcomb said she was “nervous about him going to a home that doesn’t know this story.”

September 2019/Indianapolis, Indiana: TheIndyChannel.com reported that “Indianapolis Animal Care Services announced Monday they could not house any more cats as they are entirely out of space. As a result, adoptions will be free til Sunday, Sept. 15. Currently, IACS has 70 more cats than they have cages for and are housing two cats per pen. Over the next two days they have appointments for 35 more cats to be surrendered to the shelter—which does not include the average of ten to 20 stray cats that show up at their doors each day.” Residents who needed to surrender a cat were told to make an appointment.

September 2019/Peru, New York: WCAX.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Elmore SPCA (which is partly funded with public monies) had refused to accept three kittens who had been found on the side of a road by a resident. The facility was reportedly the only animal shelter in the county. A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said that the animals were turned away because it was “at capacity.” Residents were advised to find “another shelter in another county” or could be put on a waiting list. The facility was reportedly receiving criticism for its turn-away policy, and some people were calling for an end to its public funding.

September 2019/Wynne, Arkansas: WREG.com reported that “[t]he City of Wynne has canceled its contract with the operators of the Wynne Animal Rescue Shelter, saying the owners failed to provide adequate animal control.” The facility is operated by a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Wynne Friends of Animals, which says on its website, “We keep an average of 125–150 dogs in house at all times, are ‘ALWAYS’ full, and ‘ALWAYS’ have a waiting list of dogs for intake.” Wynne Mayor Jennifer Hobbs explained the city’s decision to end its contract with the group: “We were not getting the service we were contracted for. We had numerous complaints that people weren’t answering their phones, they weren’t responding to the calls, and that was something we addressed a couple of times through the year.”

September 2019/Lake Forest, California: ABC7.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 200 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Reptile Rescue Orange County. The seizure was conducted “following weeks of complaints from nearby businesses of a foul odor coming from the building.” One woman reportedly said that “the smell can only be described as one thing: ‘Dead animals. Animals that have been dead a long time.’” A former volunteer told the outlet that “he observed terrible conditions inside the business, including animals too big for their cages.” OCRegister.com reported that an investigation was ongoing.

September 2019/Montgomery, New York: RecordOnline.com reported that authorities had removed 89 dead cats and kittens from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer.” More dead cats had reportedly been found “buried outside in small cardboard boxes that doubled as caskets.” They were working to capture five to seven surviving animals at the property. Patrick Rhodes, who lived at the home, reportedly “said he’s been rescuing cats for years, taking in strays and cats whose owners were losing their homes, and cats that may have been dumped at nearby farms. He talked about feeding strays when he worked as a field technician for cellular phone companies, carrying a container of food in his truck.” He said he also took in cats brought to him by the city’s animal control officer, Anne Ilkiw, who reportedly admitted that was true. The investigation was ongoing.

September 2019/Kingston, Pennsylvania: CitizensVoice.com reported that a Kingston man had been “charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals and misdemeanor counts of cruelty to and neglect of animals” after he allegedly strangled his dog to death. He reportedly “told police he ‘choked the dog out’ and buried [the body] in the backyard of a Wilkes-Barre home, according to a criminal complaint.” The report noted that he “said the dog, a 3-year-old Husky mix, had no appetite, had stopped eating and was suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. He said he took the dog to the SPCA, where the dog vomited in the office. [The accused] said he was told to take the dog to a veterinary hospital for treatment, but he did not have the money to do so, the complaint states. A necropsy found bruising encircling the dog’s neck, which indicated strangulation as the cause of death.”

September 2019/New Braunfels, Texas: KENS5.com reported that a turn-away facility with “no-kill” policies (which is partly funded with public monies) doing business as the Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area was over capacity to such an extent that a volunteer said that “they had hallways with kennels stacked with dogs and cats.” The facility’s executive director, Sarah Hammond, reportedly said that “her facility is dancing with inhumane overcrowding.”

September 2019/Pueblo, Colorado: KOAA.com reported that authorities had seized “several dozen cats” from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Steel City Alley Cats Coalition. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region’s (HSPPR) Animal Law Enforcement division had reportedly seized approximately “48 cats from the Steel City Alley Cats Coalition so far and believe up to 50 cats could still be inside the facility. In a Facebook post, HSPPR said 31 have been taken back to Colorado Springs, while the other 17 in need of immediate medical attention are kept in Pueblo …. Investigators said at least 4 cats have died at the facility since Sept. 4. The shelter failed three consecutive reports from the Department of Agriculture’s Pet Animal Care Facility Act (PACFA) due to unsafe conditions, including not quarantining diseased cats and not providing proper medical attention to cats in need.” Animal law-enforcement captain Lindsey Vigna explained, “Sometimes, when people are trying to save every animal, actually it’s a cruel act.” The investigation was ongoing. Chieftain.com reported that the warrant had been executed in response to concerns from residents who reported “that basically some cats within the rescue were showing some signs of typical cat illness, like upper respiratory infections and ringworm,” according to Vigna.

September 2019/Warren, Ohio: TribToday.com reported that a pit bull who was being fostered for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pitbull Advocates of Armstrong County in Pennsylvania had attacked a dog groomer who was trimming his nails. The attack didn’t end “until the dog’s adoptive owner stabbed [him with a kitchen knife] when both a Taser and pepper spray failed,” according to a sheriff’s office report. The groomer reportedly will “need plastic surgery on her face and left ear, has compound fractures to both bones in her left arm and may have broken bones in her right hand, according to the report.” The dog reportedly “had a history of biting people.” He was transferred back into the custody of the “rescue.”

September 2019/Morganton, North Carolina: Morganton.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Friends for Animals—the Humane Society of Burke County was “in trouble with the state again after more noncompliance issues were found at its facility.” (See the September 2018/Morganton, North Carolina, entry for more information.) According to the report, during a follow-up inspection by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in August, it was noted that there “was a pungent odor in the main lobby that is consistent throughout the entire indoor spaces of the facility. … [T]he primary enclosures housing adult dogs are heavily soiled with feces. … [And i]n almost all of the enclosures the animals did not have room to lie down without coming into contact with feces.” The facility’s license had reportedly been reinstated in January after a 60-day suspension that was the result of the group having “willfully disregarded and violated the N.C. Animal Welfare Act and rules issued.”

September 2019/Atascosa County, Texas: MySanAntonio.com reported that a resident had seen a white pickup truck speeding away from the site where a dog had been left “on the side of a lonely country road” with two buckets of water. The report explained: “The cost of surrendering a dog at Atascosa County Animal Control is $40.” Authorities were investigating.

September 2019/Peyton, Colorado: HuffPost.com reported that state authorities had ordered a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as National Mill Dog Rescue to pay a fine of $15,000, “$7,000 of which is due immediately and another $8,000 of which the state can collect should National Mill fail an inspection or violate [the state’s Pet Animal Care Facility Act] rules during a one-year probationary period.” According to the report, the state filed the order against the “multimillion-dollar nonprofit … after HuffPost published a lengthy investigation into National Mill’s business activities.” The order reportedly “cites 15 regulatory violations, including importing dogs into Colorado without the required vaccinations and paperwork, failing to produce medical records, failing to produce a complete origin record for one dog, and transporting dogs and cats without a license. The order also describes two dogs, named Oscar and Jubilee, being ‘severely injured’ in dogfights at the facility. … State documents also verify HuffPost’s reporting that cast doubt on the description of a number of dogs supposedly rescued by National Mill. While the nonprofit tells supporters that its dogs are saved from ‘puppy mills,’ the government investigators determined that sometimes [Theresa Strader, the group’s founder and executive director] has no idea who is handing over dogs to her—let alone whether they are breeders or how their kennels might be run.” A spokesperson at the state’s department of agriculture reportedly explained that “some of the so-called rescue organizations are really just ‘dog flipping’ as a way to make quick cash … [and] regulations have not kept pace with the evolution of the marketplace. ‘What we see with a lot of these rescue groups is that it’s an easy way to make money,’ he said. ‘You throw up a website, you’re in business, you go to another state and get dogs, and you adopt them out. They don’t have to put a lot of money into them if they get them from a shelter … that just gives them a dog, and then here, they adopt them out for a $400 or $500 fee.’ Part of the problem is the halo effect around dog rescue, he added.” The Colorado State Board of Veterinary Medicine had reportedly also “issued a cease-and-desist order to Strader for the unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine. Strader, through an attorney, denied the charges.” A hearing was scheduled in that case.

September 2019/Farmington, Utah: Standard.net reported that Davis County had “adopted a ‘socially conscious’ animal shelter posture intended to inhibit instances of inhumane hoarding in the no-kill movement. County commissioners passed a resolution … endorsing Davis County Animal Care and Control’s adoption of the socially conscious animal sheltering philosophy.” The agency’s director explained that managing statistics “by an arbitrary number can cause a shelter pressured to meet the goal to avoid ‘looking at each animal as an individual’ …. People sometimes hold onto animals when possibly the best outcome is euthanasia. … [S]ometimes good intentions lead to unintended suffering for the very pets that people are trying to protect.” According to the report, the tenets of Socially Conscious Sheltering were defined as follows:

  • Ensure every unwanted or homeless pet has a safe place to go for shelter and care.
  • Make every healthy and safe animal available for adoption.
  • Assess the medical and behavioral needs of homeless animals and ensure these needs are thoughtfully addressed.
  • Alleviate suffering and make appropriate euthanasia decisions.
  • Consider the health and wellness of animals for each community when transferring animals.
  • Enhance the human-animal bond through thoughtful placements and post-adoption support.
  • Foster a culture of transparency, ethical decision making, mutual respect, continual learning, and collaboration.

September 2019/Tyaskin, Maryland: WMDT.com reported that authorities had charged Madison Schultz with nearly 80 counts of cruelty to animals after they found “12 dogs, along with cats and reptiles all living in feces, urine, trash, and fleas with no food or water. They also found two dogs dead and rotting in the backyard, who according to Schultz had been killed by another dog in the house. Schultz herself was covered in flea bites and her toes and [the] bottoms of her feet [were] covered in dog feces.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department said, “I’m told it takes your breath away, the odor, the overwhelming odor—it’s the smell of nothing but feces and urine in that house.” A neighbor reportedly said of Schultz and another woman, Hannah Bowes: “They wanted to try to rescue the dogs, but they didn’t have an area for the dogs or funding for that many dogs.” 

September 2019/Lincoln, Nebraska: 1011Now.com reported that authorities had charged Kandice Bremer, the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as All Hounds on Deck, with cruelty to animals. She was reportedly “accused of letting dogs live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions. Now the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office says it’s located eight dogs under the group’s care that sustained severe medical problems.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department reportedly said that “it’s taken months to locate the dogs and put together what happened, as many were moved to other organizations for care.” The dogs’ medical conditions “consisted of bites, lacerations, some skin infections, a pregnancy and some other malnutrition and nutritional neglect that were visible to the eye,” he said. The report noted, “Pictures obtained through a Department of Agriculture open records request shows piles of feces, trash and rats in the kennels.” A hearing date was set.

September 2019/Fond du Lac, Wisconsin: FDLReporter.com reported that the manager of a turn-away facility doing business as Fond du Lac Humane Society had announced that there had been an increase in the number of animal-abandonment cases in the community. On its website, the group mentions that it requires appointments and fees to accept animals, common “no-kill” policies that discourage people from using shelter facilities. In one case, a cat and “an emaciated pit bull that could barely stand and appeared to be left there to die” had reportedly been found in an abandoned apartment where the power had been shut off for more than two months. In another, a cat had been “found deceased and decomposed after having been left without food or water,” apparently after renters moved from an apartment.

September 2019/Huntingdon, Pennsylvania: WJACTV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 60 cats from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Rose Cottage Cat Sanctuary Inc. Twenty-two live cats and one dead cat were found in a home described as “unlivable between the urine, feces and flies, maggots and fleas. As soon as you pulled up in front of it, the smell hit you.” A spokesperson for an animal adoption group who was at the scene said, “Those poor cats had been breathing that for months or even years.” Three cats were found dead in a rented moving van, which housed 38 live cats. Another spokesperson for the group said, “When they loaded the van onto the bed, we observed large piles of maggots on the pavement under it and they were falling from the crevices of the doors. …When we started removing the cats, feces covered almost all of the interior surfaces of the van and it was soaked in urine. Some of the cats were in crates. The only food was in a bag with maggots all through it and there were no litter boxes or water.” The scene was so horrific that the group planned to provide its employees with grief counseling. The report said that “[a]lmost half of the cats were in critical condition, and officials say 22 needed to be euthanized—a veterinarian [said] that was the only humane course of action. Two of the cats died Sunday night into Monday and one of the females rescued gave birth to four kittens after arriving at the shelter.” Cats removed from inside the home were reportedly “malnourished, dehydrated, [and] anemic and had severe respiratory issues. They had chemical burns on their skin from the urine and feces.” Authorities reportedly said that charges were pending in the case. 

August 2019/Logan, Utah: KUTV.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Cache Humane Society was experiencing an “uptick” in the number of people who abandoned animals outside its facility. The facility was reportedly full, and the group had a waiting list and charged between $25 and $50 to accept animals. Recently, two kittens had been left in the parking lot, one of whom reportedly had “special needs.” Surveillance footage had also captured a man leaving a dog in a wire crate in the lot, and a woman had reportedly “left a senior dog overnight the same week.”

August 2019/Volusia County, Florida: News-JournalOnline.com reported that authorities had given a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary “about a month to show it is making serious effort to improve conditions for its animals before Volusia County officials consider taking action.” According to the report, “[t]wo veterinarians, who visited the property after volunteers expressed concerns, say Journey’s End has too many animals and not enough staff. The facility ‘has dangerously exceeded its capacity for care, resulting in undue animal pain and suffering,’ wrote Rachel Barton, the lead shelter veterinarian with Tallahassee Animal Services, in a forensic veterinary statement after her visit to Florence Thuot’s property at 1899 Mercers Fernery Road on Aug. 5. ‘Staffing is inadequate to meet the basic needs of the animals each day, let alone their advanced medical needs,’ Barton wrote. … Barton indicated in her report that Journey’s End was lacking in: a clearly defined mission, an adequate level of staff, monitoring and daily checks of every animal, written policies and protocols, proper veterinary oversight and input, a management plan, proper training for staff and sufficient record keeping.” The group’s owner reportedly “disagrees with much of what the veterinarians reported from their visits.” The report noted, “If the county doesn’t see enough progress over the next month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has offered to help, for free, in reducing the number of animals, specifically cats, at the property … Animals that no longer have quality of life may be euthanized.”

August 2019/Roy, Utah: FOX13Now.com reported that Destiny Collins, who was operating an unlicensed self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Animal Haven out of her home, had been “accused of mistreating ‘rescue’ dogs to the point where puppies are being eaten alive.” A person who inquired about puppies she was selling said, “Collins admitted that at least three puppies were eaten alive by other dogs” at the home. Collins reportedly “told FOX13 the litters were accidental. She later admitted some dogs are bred once every couple of years. The online ad shows dogs being sold for $300 to $400. Collins said she did not know how many dogs were living in the home.” City code reportedly prohibits residents from keeping more than two dogs at a property. Authorities were investigating.

August 2019/Watertown, New York: WWNYTV.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Jefferson County SPCA had stopped accepting cats who were found homeless or whose owners could no longer care for them. The group’s executive director said, “We currently have 75 cats in the shelter, we only have 81 cages, we have 145 cats and kittens in our foster care program, and we also have a pre-vax, a waiting list, of 50 waiting to come into the shelter.” She admitted that the facility receives calls “probably 20–30 times a day, [from] people saying, ‘I found a stray cat, I’ve got a momma [who’s] got ten kittens, can you take [her].’” The news outlet reported that out of a litter of kittens at the facility, only one survived: “The kittens were sick when they came in and overcrowding made things worse, despite [the] best efforts of vets.”

August 2019/Butler County, Ohio: WashingtonPost.com reported that the owner of a dog named Dani told authorities that she was a stray who was found on the side of a road with her throat cut and her nose and mouth duct-taped shut. The dog had been adopted from a group doing business as Homeless Animal Rescue Team, which claims to save animals “from euthanization, abandonment, and abuse.” An investigation reportedly found that Dani “had actually had a cut on her neck after running into a barbed-wire fence. Since the owner couldn’t afford to take the dog to the vet, the person pretended to ‘find’ the abused dog on the side of the road and make up a horrible story. The red marks around Dani’s snout came not from duct tape but from the owner making the dog wear a muzzle several hours a day because Dani was ‘chewing up items in their residence and being aggressive towards their other canine.’” The adoption group reportedly paid for the surgery that the dog needed, but it wasn’t clear what happened to her afterward.

August 2019/Chickamauga, Georgia: TimesFreePress.com reported that a publicly funded facility doing business as Walker County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, which was trying not to euthanize animals, had become so crowded that it had “made the decision to close its doors.” One day later, a state inspection revealed “that the shelter had failed in eight categories, including not having enough water for animals in certain parts of the shelter, failing to have appropriate ventilation, [and] unsatisfactory humane care and sanitation.” The inspector also “found that animals were being kept in bathrooms, hallways and shelter offices, and noted things like exposed electric wire from where a dog had chewed through a wall.” A reported 142 animals were found “living in 75 stalls and enclosures, including 106 dogs in 65 spots.” Three dogs were found to be infected with parvovirus, while “about 36 cats and one litter of kittens” and two dogs were found crammed into “the main office, main office room and the hallway.” The building reportedly “smelled like urine and feces.” One dog was found “housed in a hallway between the main office area and the employee break room with feces and urine in the enclosure. Dead flies were on the floor near the office entrance and [the inspector] found that the bathroom was also used to house animals. In the bathroom, the Sheetrock had been chewed through by a dog, exposing electrical wire.”

August 2019/Jackson County, Michigan: WILX.com reported that a resident was “frustrated with the animal services because they wouldn’t take in the kittens that she found” in a tub on the side of a road. She told the outlet that “she reached out to Jackson County Animal Shelters to help her take the kittens and they say they are both at full capacity. This was … during the same time as their puppy adoption event …. [For that event,] the Jackson County Animal Shelter transported over 20 puppies from Mississippi to their facility.” A local adoption group reportedly set up an appointment for the kittens at a veterinary hospital, which told the outlet that “this is a very common problem in Jackson County.” The director of the county’s animal shelter reportedly said, “If we take in every single cat that comes to us and we don’t have space the alternative is to euthanize and we don’t want to do that, that’s why we practice managed intake, which means we don’t take in more than we can care for.”

August 2019/Cocoa, Florida: ClickOrlando.com reported that after a woman tried to surrender a malnourished dog to a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Brevard Humane Society but was turned away, she became angry and shoved the dog into the trunk of her car before driving off. According to a spokesperson for the facility, after the woman was told that it was full—reportedly housing 42 dogs in 29 kennels—she asked whether the dog could be euthanized there and was told “to go to another shelter.” Surveillance footage that was apparently viewed subsequently showed that she had transported the dog in the trunk of her car both to and from the facility. Authorities were called, and they found the dog at the woman’s residence, where she was evidently arrested and charged with cruelty to animals. The report said that during the “investigation a veterinarian determine[d] the dog was malnourished.”

August 2019/Schenectady, New York: DailyGazette.com reported that an animal adoption group doing business as Voice for the Voiceless was operating in violation of city ordinances. Neighbors of the home-based group were reportedly “fuming” because of the stench of the property, where cats were hoarded, and city officials had made “repeated requests asking the shelter to cease operations at the site.” The report said, “A police log filed on Aug. 1 noted the responding officer reported a ‘strong’ smell of urine that could be identified from several houses away. … The city’s Zoning Office previously issued a violation in 2018 and ordered the occupants to immediately discontinue using the location as an adoption center. A second batch of violations issued that November ordered occupants to remove portable garages from the yard . . . . On Aug. 12, the same day [a neighbor] aired his concerns to City Council, the shelter posted it had taken in 29 kittens during the past three days and ‘desperately need donations.’” A summons was issued to the property’s owner. The case was ongoing.

August 2019/Franklin Township, Pennsylvania: WNEP.com reported that a pit bull mix had been shot to death at a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge after he attacked a volunteer. A spokesperson for the group reportedly said, “[O]ne of its senior volunteers now has more than 200 stitches on her arm after being attacked by a dog during a game of fetch.” The dog had reportedly been taken in by the group despite having a history of dangerous behavior. According to a community service worker who was at the facility when the attack happened, “Nobody tried to attempt to calm down the dog …. they just pretty much out of anger went down there and killed the dog.” He told FOX56.com that the dog was shot approximately 45 minutes after the attack ended and that he saw no efforts made to provide him with peaceful euthanasia by injection. Authorities were investigating.

August 2019/Las Vegas, Nevada: KTNV.com reported that authorities were investigating complaints about poor conditions at the home of self-professed animal “rescuer” Gia Fowler. According to the report, “In April and May, Animal Control records show at least 3 dogs were examined by vets, ‘appearing emaciated … with open wounds crawling with maggots … and matted fur smelling like feces.’ Gia’s history with Animal Control goes as far back as 2011. County records paint a troubling picture of hiding dogs to avoid authorities, evading questions and permitting requirements and citations for too many dogs.” It was alleged that she had kept an aggressive dog named Loki “muzzled day and night for about two years.” Another dog was reportedly euthanized after suffering from severe, chronic seizures. Fowler was reportedly charged with “having too many dogs and unsanitary conditions” in 2016, but the charges were dropped. The recent investigation was ongoing. A local animal advocate told the outlet that “there are more than 80 self-titled rescue groups in Las Vegas, adding that social media could be making the process too easy. ‘Anyone can put their name out there and say, “I rescued a dog. Look at this poor dog. Give us money to help this dog.”‘”

August 2019/Chesterfield County, Virginia: WRIC.com reported that 24 cats had been abandoned at an animal adoption group’s facility by someone who then drove away. The group’s director said that the abandonment of cats at the facility and on the roadways “is an everyday occurrence.” A spokesperson for the county’s publicly funded animal shelter, doing business as Chesterfield County Animal Services, reportedly said that the facility “doesn’t take in owner surrenders because of the high volume of strays, sick and injured cats already in the shelter.”

August 2019/Tavares, Florida: DailyCommercial.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Lake County Animal Shelter was holding 169 dogs at the facility, which can “comfortably … house” 125 dogs. Other animals hoarded there reportedly included “148 cats, two pigs, a horse, five fish and a crawfish.” The facility’s director said, “I have four dogs in my office, two dogs in the vet’s office. I have a dog in each one of my tech’s offices. A dog behind the front desk, three dogs in the lobby. It’s literally anywhere we can pop up a kennel to make space for the dogs.”

August 2019/Berkeley County, South Carolina: OurGazette.com reported that a public facility doing business as Berkeley County Animal Shelter was full and wasn’t “accepting any additional owner surrenders.”

August 2019/Mitchell County, Georgia: WALB.com reported that a group doing business as Stitches for Mitchell County, Inc., which contracts to offer animal sheltering services for Mitchell County residents, was overcrowded. The group’s vice president reportedly said that “if the influx gets out of hand, it could cause the shelter to shut down.”

August 2019/Lebanon, Connecticut: NorwichBulletin.com reported that the owners of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Roadside Ranch Rescue and Sanctuary LLC had received “a notice of violation and cease and desist order from the town’s zoning enforcement officer.” According to the report, co-owners Kaitlyn LaPointe and Oliver Manning were advised that codes that were being violated, included the following: “structures related to ‘commercial kennels’ must be at least 100 feet from all property lines; a special permit must be obtained from the Planning and Zoning Commission to operate a commercial kennel; and accessory farm buildings used to house livestock must be at least 100 feet from any lot line.” LaPointe told the outlet that “[s]ome of the dogs, which she has pulled from the Hartford Animal Shelter and from South Carolina, have been at the sanctuary for six months to a year with no interest.” The owners reportedly “ha[d] until Aug. 31 … to stop using their residence as an animal rescue and sanctuary and as a ‘commercial kennel,’ and to stop housing livestock within 100 feet of the property line, or face possible legal action, ‘including a request to the court that [they] reimburse the Town for legal expenses related to this violation.’”

August 2019/Lane County, Oregon: KEZI.com reported that public facilities doing business as Lane County Animal Services and Greenhill Humane Society had both refused to help or accept “hundreds of cats” who had been abandoned at a property after their elderly owner was hospitalized. A neighbor who was feeding the cats said that “many” had “died over the years” and that some were “sick.” Many were also unsterilized. She said she had “reached out to Greenhill Humane Society and Lane County Animal Services to help get rid of the cats, but they told her they can’t help. Officials at Greenhill said because many of the cats are feral, they can’t bring them to their shelter.”

August 2019/Ravenna, Ohio: Record-Courier.com reported that a box containing cats and kittens had been found outside a turn-away facility run by a group doing business as Portage Animal Protective League. The animals reportedly had “broken legs, injured eyes, [and] upper respiratory infections,” and some kittens apparently were not with their mothers. The facility was reportedly full and had a waiting list to accept animals. Its executive director said, “People call us every day asking us to take their cat or a stray cat they found …. We try to help as many as possible but there are 90-plus cats on our waiting list. We have an average of 50–70 cats in our care on a regular basis, and when you include cats in foster care and the newest rescues, we are talking about well over 100 cats. Two cats have needed leg amputations, some are sickly, [and] some need [to be] bottle fed.”

August 2019/Grand Traverse County, Michigan: 9And10News.com reported that a resident who was dropping off items at a recycling center “heard soft meowing coming from inside” one of the containers there. He found a sick, dirty kitten and took her to a veterinary hospital, where she was diagnosed with an upper respiratory condition. A spokesperson for a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Cherryland Humane Society reportedly said that this was not an isolated case: “Earlier this year, we had kittens [left] by a dumpster out in the Fife Lake recycling center … and there was recently another report that another box was dumped by those same recycling dumpsters on Lafranier Road. This is something that’s becoming more and more common because shelters are becoming overrun with kittens due to overpopulation in the pet community. … [W]e have no room at the inn. … We cannot take any additional cats.” The facility reportedly “has more than 60 cats right now, and doesn’t have any more space for more to come in.”

August 2019/Hardin County, Tennessee: JacksonSun.com reported that the owner of a self-professed “cat sanctuary” had surrendered 88 cats she couldn’t care for. According to a spokesperson for a nonprofit working to remove the animals, many of them were “diagnosed with respiratory or eye infections, and some suffered from parasites, anemia or other conditions. One cat was rushed to a veterinarian’s office for an emergency blood transfusion …. Two had broken legs. Most will require extensive vet care.” It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered. 

August 2019/Maryville, Tennessee: WBIR.com reported that the publicly funded Blount County Animal Shelter was full and had temporarily stopped accepting animals from owners who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—care for them any longer. On its website, the facility reported that even when it did accept these animals, the hours were extremely limited: Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (when most people are unavailable owing to work schedules).

August 2019/Helena, Montana: KTVH.com reported that a resident had found a cardboard box that contained three dead kittens and one kitten who was “barely alive” on the side of a road. The surviving animal was taken to a veterinary hospital, where a veterinarian said that “she couldn’t raise her head or eat. Her heart rate was very low, and her temperature was too low to measure.” She required days of “intensive treatment,” including intravenous fluids. She was apparently expected to survive. The veterinarian reportedly said that the hospital “has had a number of cats come to them this summer and they have done the best they can, but their resources are limited.” She said that the local publicly funded animal shelter and adoption groups in the community were “often at their capacity.” According to an earlier news report about the abandonment of cats outside the Lewis and Clark Humane Society (which is partly funded with public monies), “There is a $25 surrender fee for each animal brought to the shelter.”

August 2019/Metuchen, New Jersey: NewYork.CBSLocal.com reported that two kittens had been found in an onion bag left in front of a grocery store with a note that read, “Please take free baby cat to your home.” Authorities reportedly “believe the woman has done this at least four times in the last year. On Thursday morning, four kittens were left inside a plastic bin outside the ShopRite in Edison. Animal shelter officials are still trying to figure out if it was the same woman who left them.” A spokesperson for the public animal shelter said that appointments are needed to surrender animals there. The facility’s website explains that it also charges surrender fees, won’t accept animals with behavioral problems or without veterinary records, and won’t accept animals if the shelter is full.

August 2019/Huntington, West Virginia: Herald-Dispatch.com reported that a publicly funded animal shelter doing business as Huntington Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter was full and had stopped accepting cats “[f]or the second time this kitten season.” An earlier report revealed that the shelter was trying to operate as a “no-kill” facility. Its director reportedly said, “We are just inundated, and we have so many people trying to bring in cats and we just don’t have the staff. We only have one person taking care of all the cats, and we have more than 80 cats here right now.”

August 2019/Jersey City, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that a publicly funded adoption group doing business as Liberty Humane Society had allowed Joseph Mannino to adopt a dog named Maxina, who had been seized from him. He was reportedly facing cruelty-to-animals charges at the time. The dog had apparently been seized from him in late July by members of the city’s Quality of Life Task Force after she was found “tied up on the porch … during a weekend when temperatures soared toward 100 degrees.” The group had allegedly indicated that it had released the dog to her suspected abuser “because she is aggressive toward other animals and Mannino appears to be her best hope at adoption.” She had reportedly been “adopted” out by the group to Munther Asad in 2017, and Mannino was allegedly tasked with caring for her while, according to the report, Asad “was out of state for an extended period. Both men were cited for animal cruelty.” They were reportedly “scheduled to be arraigned in Jersey City Municipal Court on Aug. 27.” 

August 2019/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: PennRecord.com reported that a resident had been charged with “five counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and 37 summary counts of cruelty to animals” after authorities seized 37 cats who had been hoarded at his home. In a lawsuit that he reportedly filed against authorities, he said that five of the animals seized had been “purchased” by him from a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Animal Friends. No additional details were available. 

August 2019/ Van Zandt County, Texas: GrandSalineSun.com reported that authorities had arrested Cynthia Durham, the president of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Van Zandt County Humane Society, “for theft and a warrant [was] being issued for the arrest of a Wisconsin woman, alleging the duo [were] involved in a scheme called ‘Pet Flipping.’” The report said that Durham “allegedly confessed to the offense and has since been taken into custody for the theft of … two 9-month old blue heeler pups.” A neighbor of Jeremy Housden, the dogs’ owner, had reportedly “seen Durham’s vehicle around his house” and could see “the dogs at one moment, and the next they were nowhere in sight, but Durham’s car was still allegedly in the Housden driveway.” Housden contacted authorities, resulting in the arrest. 

August 2019/Fort Pierce, Florida: WPTV.com reported that authorities had served a search warrant as part of a criminal investigation into a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Humane Society of St. Lucie County, Inc. Detectives reportedly said that “the search warrant was approved as part of a felony criminal investigation, though it is too soon for detectives to say which specific crime or potential criminal charge they are pursuing through the investigation. WPTV confirmed the investigation was prompted by a complaint from volunteer Dale Mutchler, who made headlines as the volunteer who found the body of Christine Liquori in May. Liquori was the volunteer mauled to death by a pit bull mix at the shelter” (see the May 2019/Fort Pierce, Florida, entry below). The report said, “The complaints ranged from operational, structural and safety concerns to animal neglect allegations. In [Mutchler’s] complaint, he details concerns about animals not being given adequate care, such as a dog passing out which he was able to ‘bring back’ by hosing [the animal] down with cold water. When he notified veterinary staff, he says the staff did not examine the dog for five days. The alleged neglect, he says, has also turned deadly for some animals, including puppies recently seized by law enforcement from an animal neglect case and placed at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County for temporary care. ‘There were quite a few animals that died due to the lack of care. Due to neglect. Absolute neglect,’ Mutchler said. Some puppies, he said, were killed by rats.” The investigation was ongoing. TCPalm.com reported that Fort Pierce city commissioners had voted to take over operations at the group’s facility located on property owned by the city on October 1. The vote came after “[t]he Humane Society objected to any oversight from the local governments to review its financial accounts. … The local governments requested an updated business plan and a projected budget, which the Humane Society rejected.” Poor conditions at the facility reportedly “became known in September after Fort Pierce and county staff members and animal activists conducted a walk-through inspection of the Savannah and Glades-Cut Off facilities. According to a TCPalm article, officials found animal cages full of feces; empty water bowls; temperatures hovering near 90 degrees; no air conditioning, and at the Glades Cut-Off shelter, no fans because of failed electrical outlets; and no veterinarian on the premises for days at a time.”

August 2019/Lancaster, California: TMZ.com reported that singer Aaron Carter had posted a video on social media in which he said he was selling for $3,500 a dog he’d adopted from a public animal shelter. According to the report, “In the video, which Aaron appears to have acknowledged as authentic, he says … ‘This is my new buddy. So by the way, if I can’t keep him, I am going to be listing him.’ Aaron goes on to say, ‘He’s 10 months old, and he’s running for $3,500. So if anybody wants to give my English bulldog (a home), I rescue him and I find him homes.’” He allegedly “makes reference to another dog in the video that he ‘couldn’t keep.’” The shelter was reportedly looking into the allegation, and Carter “vehemently” denied that he “flip[s] dogs for quick cash.”

August 2019/Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: FOX43.com reported that a plastic bin containing seven kittens had been left outside a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Pet Pantry of Lancaster County after the facility refused to accept them. According to the report, a woman had entered the facility and “told workers she had already taken the kittens to other shelters in the area and was told they were all full and unable to accept new kittens for adoptions. After being told the Pet Pantry was also full and had a waiting list, the woman exited the building, leaving the kittens behind before she drove off.” No charges were being considered.

August 2019/Tavares, Florida: DailyCommercial.com reported that a woman had been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals after allegedly “throwing her chihuahua over a 6-foot fence” after hours at a public “no-kill” facility doing business as Lake County Animal Shelter. She said that she was leaving the dog at the shelter because she was homeless. The dog reportedly escaped from the fenced area and was later found with “severe hind-end damage.” He or she was given pain medication. According to its website, the facility “is often near, at, or above capacity. Owned pets are only accepted as space and resources allow.” Animals are considered for acceptance only during scheduled appointments, and a $40 fee is required per animal. Before the facility will accept unvaccinated animals, two appointments must be made two weeks apart.

August 2019/Fort Lauderdale, Florida: FloridaBulldog.org reported that three longtime volunteers with a public facility doing business as Broward County Animal Care had been terminated. According to the report, this occurred after they “posted photos and videos of canines allegedly being mistreated at the shelter, a $16.5-million facility …. It’s the latest controversy to engulf [facility director Lauralei] Combs, who is under fire for overcrowding at the shelter after a drastic reduction in euthanizations since she was hired 18 months ago.” A local city commissioner reportedly said, “She is systematically letting go of volunteers who disclose what is taking place at the shelter. It leads me to believe we are back on the road to no transparency. They are getting rid of the people who talk.” The establishment was reportedly under a county “mandate” to operate as a “no-kill” facility. Videos shared with the outlet allegedly showed “dozens of dogs being kept in portable kennels inside a section of the shelter with no air conditioning. Several industrial fans can be seen blowing in the direction of the canines, some of which were sitting in their own urine and feces.” The report cited a WSVN.com June 2019 story that revealed that “the shelter was forced to close two hours early on a Friday because there was no more room.” According to a local resident, “animal services inspectors responding to animal-cruelty complaints are not taking abused dogs and cats to the shelter because of the over-capacity problem.” One of the dismissed volunteers reportedly told the outlet, “I am starting to see the lack of interest toward these dogs and cats that are sick or injured.” Combs reportedly admitted to the outlet that after a fight broke out between two dogs who’d been placed together in a kennel at the crowded facility, both of them were so badly injured that they had to be euthanized.

July 2019/Taos, New Mexico: TaosNews.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Stray Hearts Animal Shelter was “full and [could not] accept dogs dropped off by the general public.” The facility, with a capacity of 90 animals, was reportedly “the county’s only shelter for dogs” and was “housing 116 canines.” Adoption groups that the facility regularly transferred animals to, both “in other counties and out of state in places such as Denver,” were also reportedly full. The shelter allegedly asked residents “to hold onto stray dogs they pick up for as long as they can and to keep calling Stray Hearts every couple of days to see if room has opened up.”

July 2019/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: WQAD.com reported that a small, elderly dog had been left outside a turn-away, “no-kill shelter” doing business as Pennsylvania SPCA “in a plastic container with the lid on while outside temperatures were around 90 degrees.” She was reportedly malnourished and “flea-bitten” and might not have been found if not for an “attentive volunteer [who] saw the container and opened it up.” On its website, the group states that it will only accept animals who “meet certain criteria as space in our shelter becomes available,” and it charges a $50 fee per animal before it will accept them. 

July 2019/Joplin, Missouri: JoplinGlobe.com reported that a spokesperson for a self-professed “no-kill rescue shelter” doing business as Golden Paw Animal Sanctuary and Rescue said that the group “had to turn away 50 to 60 requests each week from folks who discovered dumped pets—mostly dogs—on their property.” She said, “We’re getting calls all the time.” Reportedly, “a property owner told her that somebody had dumped two dogs in her front yard sometime during the night. In another call, a heartless owner tied their cowering pooch to a property owner’s fence post, though they’d left an unopened 25-pound bag of dog food next to the poor thing, perhaps to help cope with their own guilt. These types of situations and worse are happening all across the Joplin metro area.” The facility, with a capacity of around 100 dogs and 20 cats, had apparently crowded 120 dogs and 52 cats into it.

July 2019/New York, New York: NYPost.com reported that a dog who was being transported from a Brooklyn public animal shelter doing business as Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) to a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Rescue Dogs Rescue Soldiers had been found dead in a cage in the back of the vehicle being used. A spokesperson for the “rescue” reportedly said that when he was found, “the body was really hard, it was very stiff.” Apparently, he’d “been ‘in distress’ before his death because the cage was covered in feces and his mouth was ‘wide open like an alligator.’” He had allegedly been in the vehicle for a “four-hour ride in the midst of the worst heat wave the city has seen since 2011, with heat indexes as high as 110 degrees.” Another dog in the same vehicle was reportedly “also in bad shape when the transporter arrived and was showing signs of dehydration.” That dog received treatment. The report said that the “cause of death was ruled inconclusive by the ACC,” adding that the agency was “facing a probe from the state Attorney General over animal cruelty allegations.”

July 2019/Escondido, California: NBCSanDiego.com reported that an animal adoption group doing business as San Diego Humane Society had given two cats to Joshua Boyer before investigators found “several cat carcasses and more chained live cats” at his property. Prosecutors reportedly “described the scene on Boyer’s property as ‘quite disturbing.’ Ten deceased cats were found near a locked shed on the property. Boyer was the only one with access to it and told his family to stay away from it, prosecutors said. Inside the shed were firearms, a crossbow with arrows, bats and knives. Several of the weapons had blood or fur on them when they were discovered by investigators. Prosecutors said some of the dead cats had their legs zip-tied to cages, some had metal BB’s and bullet fragments in them, and some were burned. All but one had an empty stomach. … Prosecutors said one of the cats he got from the shelter was found dead on the property.” The second cat given to Boyer by the group had apparently not been found. Boyer reportedly said he’d also acquired cats through Craigslist advertisements, and it was suspected that he’d picked up at least one cat, who was allowed to roam outdoors without supervision by his owner, off the street. He was arrested and charged with “multiple felony counts of cruelty to animals.”

July 2019/Gainesboro, Virginia: WinchesterStar.com reported that authorities had charged the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Oreo’s Legacy Rescue with 21 counts of cruelty to animals. The report said that the charges were filed against Tammy Smith Barr after authorities had to rescue 20 dogs hoarded at her home when a fire broke out. According to a criminal complaint, “[t]here were hoarding conditions all through the house as well as dog urine and feces covering the floor all over the house …. The odor of urine and feces overpowered the odor of the house fire.” An assistant fire marshal reportedly said that “‘hoarding conditions’ in the basement hampered firefighting efforts.” And a building official reportedly said that “the house was declared uninhabitable due to the fire and the house being filled with feces and urine.” One of the dogs rescued “had matted hair that had to be shaved off, and many of the 13 puppies rescued suffered from smoke inhalation.” According to the report, Barr had been “convicted in November of inadequate animal care and three counts of dogs running at large.”

July 2019/Mitchell, South Dakota: GrandForksHerald.com reported that authorities had seized 31 cats from two homes where they were found hoarded by Brandy Smith and her son, Michael Smith. According to the report, “Brandy Smith reportedly either lived in or maintained the two residences, and she reportedly solicited money to care for cats on a Facebook page called ‘Heart and Soul Kitty Sanctuary.’” Officials reportedly said that the two were each facing “10 counts of cruelty to animals, a Class 6 felony.” The report said, “Twenty cats ‘in various apparent degrees of sickness’” had been found at one home, and another sick cat was seized from a second address. One cat found allegedly “appeared near death” and was transported directly to a veterinary hospital. A public safety official apparently said that nine more sick cats and one dead cat were found at one of the homes the next day. Both locations “reportedly had cat feces and garbage throughout.” ArgusLeader.com later reported that a total of 37 cats, including the dead one, had been removed from the two homes. Authorities apparently said that the floor of a trailer at one of the properties “was covered in piles of cat feces and empty cat food cans, and that the smell was so pungent it could be smelled through their respirators. Multiple cats were found in the home, many of them sick and lying in piles of feces, the affidavit read. Police said it was ‘obvious that the cats had been left to live in this environment for quite some time.’” 

July 2019/Dayton, Ohio: ABC6OnYourSide.com reported that in a 24-hour period, 20 cats had been left outside a turn-away facility doing business as Humane Society of Greater Dayton. According to the report, staff “found two litters of kittens left at the front entrance of the organization. One of the litters found had six very sick kittens … covered in fleas.” A lawn-care company reported later that day that workers had “found a cat and six 4-week-old kittens loose in the [organization’s] dog park. Those kittens were also covered in fleas [and] in need of additional medical care.” The next day, a note was found at the facility “about two cats being left at the dog park next door. The writer of the note was worried about [them] …. A veterinarian was able to find one of the cats, but the second cat still has not been found.” According to its website, the facility only accepts animals by appointment if there is space and if the animals are deemed adoptable. The county animal “shelter” had recently announced that it would no longer handle cats at all. (See the April 2019/Dayton, Ohio, entry below.) 

July 2019/Wolcott, Connecticut: NBCConnecticut.com reported that authorities were investigating a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Tails of Courage after a puppy adopted from the group died of parvovirus. It was believed that a second puppy died at the group’s facility and that the litter had been shipped to the group from Texas. An adopter reportedly told authorities “that she had the puppy for seven hours, had to rush the puppy to [an emergency veterinary hospital] doing CPR on the puppy the entire route, only for the puppy to expire.” Preliminary testing suggested that the animal had suffered from “parvo, dehydration, and emaciation.” A police spokesperson said that when investigators visited the facility, one of them “heard a puppy screaming and went to research where the puppy was and found a back room that they consider their isolation room … and that’s where they found the sick puppies.” Two were rushed to an emergency veterinary hospital. The report said that “[a]dopted sick litter-mates continue to be discovered and cared for at other vets around the state.” Authorities reportedly said that there were “red flags when the animal rescue organization moved to town. The land owner of the property says ‘Tails of Courage’ set up shop about two months ago. He says they told him they will be leaving his property by the end of the week. Danbury filed a lawsuit for health and zoning violations in 2018. It was withdrawn this spring when they promised to no longer conduct business in Danbury.” (See the July 2018/Danbury, Connecticut, entry below for more details.) ConnecticutNews12.com later reported that three of the eight sick puppies removed by authorities had died. 

July 2019/West Chicago, Illinois: ChicagoTribune.com reported that after a six-month investigation into a fire at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as The Bully Life Animal Services, authorities had arrested operator Garrett Mercado. He was reportedly “charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty, along with 14 counts of violating his duties as an animal owner. Mercado had 58 dogs in his care, with many stacked on top of one another in crates not intended to hold an animal for a long period of time, State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said at a Thursday news conference. ‘These dogs lived in cruel and inhumane conditions, and they died a horrible death,’ Berlin said.” According to a press release issued by Berlin’s office, “Following an investigation that revealed that twenty-nine dogs died in the blaze, it is alleged that numerous other dogs were mistreated suffering puncture wounds, lacerations, abrasions, weight loss, muscle wasting and dehydration. It is also alleged that there was a foul odor throughout the facility and that urine stains, fresh and old feces and empty water bowls were found in the kennel. It is further alleged that the kennel runs were not sanitary and that dogs were kept in cages stacked upon one another. It is alleged that dogs were placed in cages or crates too small for them, dogs were inappropriately tethered and that one dog was tethered to a bar in a bathtub in a fashion that would restrict or prevent movement. It is further alleged that Garrett abandoned the dogs at which time a fire erupted resulting in the dogs’ deaths.” Patch.com reported that “Berlin said some charges stem from the treatment of two dogs in particular. One dog, named Magoo, was returned to his owner prior to the fire but was severely underweight, with ribs showing and wasted muscles, as well as hookworms, Berlin said. Another dog, Coco, perished in the fire after being tethered to a bar on the second floor of the kennel building. Berlin said Coco was tethered so tightly it’s unlikely he would have been able to lie down or move. His body was found under a pile of debris after the fire, according to authorities.” A court date had been set. (See the January 2019/West Chicago, Illinois, entry below for more details.)

July 2019/San Antonio, Texas: KSAT.com reported that after a public turn-away facility doing business as City of San Antonio Animal Care Services refused to accept two dogs from a woman who’d tried to surrender them, video surveillance footage showed her leaving the animals in front of the facility and driving away. The small dogs were frantic and “nearly run over.” When they were found, the facility admitted them. They required treatment “for heat stress.” Authorities reportedly had the woman’s contact information.

July 2019/Chico, California: OrovilleMR.com reported that authorities had received “[m]any complaints … about cleanliness or concerns about dogs being vaccinated or examined before being adopted” from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Wags and Whiskers Pet Rescue. The group had reportedly “recently [come] under scrutiny for an outbreak of canine distemper,” and authorities expressed concern about “high numbers of animals” being taken in by the group “from many different areas … with unknown amounts of screening.” The report said that, “while Wags and Whiskers is not breaking laws by keeping animals in stacked wire cages, with only some runs available, [the director of the city’s animal services department] said the illness can spread much more quickly” in those conditions.

July 2019/Jamesville, New York: Syracuse.com reported that a lawsuit had been filed against Onondaga County and its animal adoption facility doing business as Second Chance Canine Adoption Shelter in response to a dog attack that occurred there. The suit alleged that a 10-year-old girl visiting the facility had been left “bloodied and scarred and [requiring] multiple costly hospital visits” after she was attacked by a pit bull or mix with a history of aggression. The dog had reportedly been adopted approximately eight months before the attack and was returned after biting three people and growling at and acting aggressively toward the adopter’s wife. The report said that it wasn’t the only lawsuit pending against the facility: “An inmate named Brian Howe sued in January. He said a pit bull attacked him and tore up both his arms while he was assigned to work the shelter. He needed stitches on both arms.”

June 2019/Austin, Texas: Statesman.com reported that the Austin Animal Center had “been full since December 2017 when 40 or 50 kennels were added in the building’s most recent expansion,” according to a spokesperson for the facility. She reportedly said that the “center has only 345 kennels available for the 800 animals it is currently housing .… Cats and dogs have overflowed into the center’s meeting and conference rooms, and pets have doubled up in kennels.” Animals were being given away for free and, “the center begged the community to adopt an animal over the weekend because it is out of kennels.” 

June 2019/Palmer, Massachusetts: MassLive.com reported that the state’s attorney general had filed a lawsuit against the founder and president of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Destiny’s Road Animal Rescue, Inc., alleging that she had “used money donated to the rescue to pay for personal expenses, including online dating apps, hair and nail salon visits and purchases at vaping stores.” The lawsuit reportedly says that Dawn Cardinal “spent animal rescue money on the online dating websites eharmony and Christian Mingle; rideshare services Uber and Lyft; iTunes and Netflix; the New England Aquarium; an oxygen bar; and vaping stores. She paid for hair salon, massage, nail and beautician services; gas and car repairs; telephone and heating bills; and fast food and restaurant bills. She made online purchases from Toys R Us, Victoria’s Secret, and Bed Bath & Beyond.” The lawsuit “charges Cardinal with breach of fiduciary duty, unfair and deceptive acts, making false statements in annual registration statements, misappropriating charitable assets, failure to properly account for the charity’s funds and failure to file financial statements and reports.” The attorney general was “asking a judge to require Cardinal to pay restitution to Destiny’s Road, give up any money that was raised illegally and bar Cardinal from acting as a fiduciary for any public charity in the future and from conducting any future business in Massachusetts.” 

June 2019/Las Vegas, Nevada: LasVegasNow.com reported that authorities had removed more than 40 dogs from a residence where they were found in filthy pens, some suffering from symptoms of parvovirus. At least six puppies were “in need of medical attention.” Four of them were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. The owner said that she had acquired the dogs from people who didn’t want them and sold them for profit. She voluntarily surrendered the animals and was fined $2,200. Four dogs were left at the residence “with a requirement that [the owner] get medical treatment for one dog with an abdominal mass and seek a fancier permit if she wants to keep the four dogs who have not been neutered or spayed.” 

June 2019/Camp County, Texas: KLTV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 150 horses from “an equine rescue facility.” Many of them were reportedly “emaciated, had damage to their hooves and a meager food supply.” The owner of the “rescue” was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals. No additional details were available.

June 2019/Greensboro, North Carolina: MyFOX8.com reported that a 2-year-old child had sustained injuries when he was bitten by a dog at a public turn-away facility doing business as Guilford County Animal Shelter. The child’s family was considering adopting the dog when the attack occurred. MyFOX8.com later reported that another visitor saw the mother running with the child, who had sustained a severe bite. “It was a big wound. The only part of that poor child’s ear was his earlobe left on him,” the other visitor said. No additional details were available.

June 2019/Citrus County, Florida: ChronicleOnline.com reported that county officials had “asked the sheriff’s office to issue a trespass warning to Robert Schweickert Jr., president of Out of the Box Animal Rescue Inc.,” ordering him to stay away from the Citrus County Animal Shelter, after he allegedly “threatened to shoot the animal shelter director and her staff.” According to the news report, “Schweickert and Out of the Box have been evicted three times since January.” The county animal shelter stopped providing him with dogs earlier this year. He “also has two cases pending in court over three dogs being held at the animal shelter for attacks on humans or other animals.” (See the February 2019/Citrus County, Florida, entry.) During a telephone conversation, Schweickert reportedly told a volunteer “that if he had a firearm he would shoot [the shelter director] and the staff.”

June 2019/Pueblo, Colorado: KOAA.com reported that authorities were pursuing cruelty-to-animals charges against a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as PAWS for Life Animal Welfare and Protection Society in relation to inhumane conditions and animal deaths at the city animal shelter that it had been contracted to operate. (See the March 2019/Pueblo, Colorado, entry.) During its short tenure at the facility, a state “investigation revealed animals were neglected in some cases for days, as a result, 14 animals died while under the shelter’s watch.” Local authorities were preparing a criminal case for the district attorney’s review. A spokesperson for the Pueblo Police Department said, “When we refer charges, obviously we have a case, we believe these people committed these crimes.”

June 2019/Huntington, West Virginia: Herald-Dispatch.com reported that a turn-away facility partly funded by tax dollars and doing business as Huntington Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter was “40 cats over capacity and cannot properly care for any more,” according to the director. The facility had stopped accepting cats “until further notice” because it was working “toward becoming a no-kill shelter.” 

June 2019/Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania: FOX6Now.com reported that authorities had seized 50 cats and kittens from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Faery’s Felines. Officials reportedly said that the animals were “found living in filth with untreated medical conditions.” PennLive.com reported that just eight cats in the worst condition were initially seized. A spokesperson for an adoption group involved in the seizure said that one of the cats had a “severely ulcerated eye” that would likely require removal and another had an eye injury that was seeping bloody fluid. The other cats suffered from untreated “severe respiratory infections.” A kitten’s temperature was reportedly “so low that it did not register on the thermometer.” Authorities later returned and removed the remaining animals. Criminal charges were reportedly pending.

June 2019/South Bend, Indiana: WSBT.com reported that authorities had ordered a dog-boarding facility to remove all animals from the property within two weeks. During an inspection, they reportedly found 168 dogs and two cats hoarded at the facility, the majority of whom belonged to a self-professed “no-kill rescue” doing business as Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Group. The inspection report “concludes the kennel meets the county’s definition of an animal hoarding situation” and said that the facility “failed to ensure animals have appropriate housing, heating, ventilation and light.” It further stated that “it appears that Homeward Bound does as they please with no regard to [the boarding facility’s owner], the staff … or the animals themselves.” A former volunteer for the “rescue” said, “I would see dogs that had been there for years .… [S]ome of the dogs that had been there years actually had turned feral.” She also said, “There is a closet at the end and you’re going to open it up and it is pitch dark and there are dogs living in there!” 

June 2019/Mobile, Alabama: FOX10TV.com reported that six small puppies had been left in a box at the door of a public turn-away facility doing business as the Mobile County Animal Shelter. They reportedly “spent about an hour outside in the rain before they” were found, “getting soaked.” The video news report showed a sign on the facility door that read, “We’re Sorry, We Are Unable To Accept Any Drop Offs At This Time.” A spokesperson for the facility reportedly “said this happens all too often at their shelter.” The report revealed that “authorities said this is a continued problem.” MyNBC15.com later reported that a second litter of four young puppies had been left outside the facility “in a sealed container, with no food, no water, and no fresh oxygen for over 9 hours.” It wasn’t reported whether they had sustained permanent injuries.

June 2019/Richmond, Virginia: WTVR.com reported that a man who had been arrested on charges of cruelty to animals claimed that area animal shelters had refused to accept a dog he no longer wanted. He was arrested after tying the animal to a fence at a park, dousing him with lighter fluid, and setting him on fire. The report said, “The suspect stated he tried to give the dog away to various shelters, but no one would take [him] in because the dog was deemed too vicious.” The suspect reportedly said that he’d had the dog for several months, during which time he “had attacked several of his family members.” The man said that he “snapped” and was trying to protect his family when he tortured the animal. He was facing felony cruelty-to-animals charges, and a judge reportedly denied his bond.

June 2019/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that Angi Hopson, the founder of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as AZ Dog Adoptions, was facing 80 counts of cruelty to animals. Authorities had seized 45 animals from the “rescue” the previous December (see the December 2018/Phoenix, Arizona, entry) and reportedly seized another dog in April. A spokesperson for a local humane society said, “There was a dog who was severely matted to the point of having maggots, flies, and feces encrusted into the fur.” She said that most of the seized animals had recovered and been adopted but that some were in such bad shape that they apparently had to be euthanized. A woman interviewed said that she adopted a dog from the “rescue” who was seriously ill. Her family spent $10,000 in treatments before he had to be euthanized because of the severity of his condition.

June 2019/Killeen, Texas: KWTX.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 200 live and 40 dead cats and kittens from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Spark of Life Kitten Foster and Rescue. Authorities conducted a search and seizure at the property after receiving complaints from residents. Live cats were reportedly “found living in stacked crates and cages” without access to potable water. Litterboxes were overflowing, and many of the animals suffered from upper respiratory diseases and conditions. Ten dogs were also found at the property. It wasn’t reported whether they were removed or whether criminal charges were being considered.

June 2019/Craven County, North Carolina: JDNews.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Hounds of Grace Rescue Inc., had left 22 dogs at a boarding kennel for months and had an unpaid bill of $7,000. Before boarding the dogs, the group left them at an animal control shelter, which had seized them from criminal conditions, for approximately four months. An investigator reportedly “said the shelter worked for months trying to get Hounds of Grace to remove the dogs as promised but [the group’s director, Brenda Wells] ‘kept pushing back.’” The investigator said that the shelter had to euthanize other dogs daily to make room to board the dogs. One of the owners of the boarding facility said that Wells was “‘playing a shell game,’ moving the dogs from kennel to kennel and not paying their upkeep.”

June 2019/Oakbank, Manitoba, Canada: MSN.com reported that a day after he was adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Homeless and Injured Animal Rescue of Canada, Inc., a dog described as a Mastiff mix attacked a child at home. The dog was advertised as being “submissive and very friendly, he is great with kids and dogs.” The adopters reportedly said that a volunteer with the “rescue” told the family that he had been imported from the U.S. and “had been abused and kept in a kennel for long hours, and was saved from being put down.” The adopters told a reporter that they “also noticed the dog’s teeth were damaged, and appeared worn or filed down.” The report said, “As he was leaving for school, [the] 11-year-old son reached out to pet Griz goodbye.” The dog then growled at him. “Before he even had time to retract his hand, Griz lunged forward, grabbed him by the neck, and his lunge forward actually knocked my 11-year-old son down the stairs,” his mother said. “I’m pulling on the dog, trying to get him out the back door, and he turns and growls at me.” Upon the advice of a veterinarian, the family had the dog euthanized. They then received his records from a veterinary hospital in Minneapolis. “All throughout his records [were words] like, ‘aggressive, aggressive aggressive,’” she said. She reportedly provided the Canadian Broadcasting System with the medical records that she had received. “‘Has a lot of anxiety,’ is noted in the records, along with ‘at home and around other dogs—severe dog aggression.’ The records also show a history of visits to adjust the dog’s medication, and an incident where Griz attempted to chew through a metal kennel and ‘broke a few teeth in the process.’” The boy’s father was reportedly “shocked to learn there are no regulations around operating a dog rescue.” He said, “It made me mad. Like, I can go out and start a dog rescue right now, and I could be the worst person in the world and just want money.”

June 2019/Jacksonville, Florida: IBTimes.com reported that a “dog mauled a child and the mother” at a public turn-away facility doing business as Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services. The 7-year-old child was reportedly “viciously bitten on the thigh,” and the mother’s injuries weren’t known. An ambulance rushed the child to the hospital. No additional details were available.

June 2019/Windsor, Ontario: WindsorStar.com reported that authorities had charged the founder of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Royals Animal Rescue Services with “two counts of permitting an animal to be in distress, two counts of failing to provide adequate and appropriate veterinary care, and one count of failing to comply with orders under the Ontario SPCA Act.” A court date was set for July 15. A spokesperson for a local humane society said, “The concerns initially raised were about several animals who had passed away in the care of the rescue, and that’s what led to the investigation.” She said that “it’s really important to remember that there really isn’t a registry of rescues .… [I]t is easy to call yourself a rescue— you can put up a Facebook page and a website and say that you’re a rescue, and there’s nobody that really regulates that in the province.” The report revealed that in May, the “rescue” had “posted a request for donations as an ’emergency fundraiser’ for a dog that escaped ‘and got hit by a car.’” No additional details were available.

June 2019/Ruskin, Florida: Patch.com reported that after she was turned away from a self-professed “no-kill animal shelter” doing business as Critter Adoption & Rescue Effort, Inc., a woman had allegedly driven “a short distance away” and abandoned 10 cats and a dog described as elderly on the roadside. She was facing animal abandonment charges. At the time of the report, the cats had been found and retrieved, but the dog was still missing. According to the report, self-professed “no-kill” shelters in the area were all full and the public turn-away facility doing business as Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center has a lengthy intake process and charges fees before it will consider accepting animals. It was revealed that “the county places restrictions on surrendered pets. Owners must provide proof of residency in Hillsborough County and complete an in-take process, which requires downloading and completing a form, showing a valid photo ID, providing veterinary records and paying a surrender fee. That fee is $20 per pet with valid pet registration; $40 per pet with no valid pet registration; and $60 for a litter of pets less than 4 months old. If pet owners do not follow this procedure, which takes two weeks, they are charged $125 for testing, vaccination and possible isolation in addition to the surrender fee.”

June 2019/Memphis, Tennessee: WREG.com reported that authorities had seized 40 dogs found hoarded in the home of a woman who was involved with a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Save Our Shepherds. A neighbor reportedly said that he’d never seen any dogs at the home but had “heard them barking and whimpering and crying.” The director of Memphis Animal Services said, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen …. I walked in last night and saw animals in conditions that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.” Bonnie Maher-Hazel was reportedly “arrested and charged with neglecting 40 dogs.” Another report revealed that the dogs were “were kept in individual kennels with layers of feces. In one case it was up to a dog’s elbow. Other issues include kennel stress, which typically means the dogs were left in these kennels for extremely long periods of time. Sadly, one dog appears to have chewed off his own tail.” Authorities investigated after a neighbor filed a complaint. It wasn’t known “how long the abuse has been going on.”

June 2019/Indialantic, Florida: FloridaToday.com reported that a “shootout that resulted in the death of the gunman and left a sheriff’s deputy in critical but stable condition … began as a dispute between neighbors about feeding feral cats.” A resident said, “The cats have been a problem for a while.” The report said that “[f]eeding outdoor cats and programs that ‘fix’ and release unwanted cats—like Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s animal shelter does—anger some in this neighborhood, as well as some animal advocates. While those practices deter euthanasia, they can result in short, harsh lives for the cats, the critics say. And biologists say maintaining outdoor cat colonies also raises risk of rabies and other diseases that threaten humans and wildlife. Countless birds, amphibians and small mammals pay the ultimate price, they say, in the zeal to reach ‘no-kill’ status for animal shelters.” The county sheriff’s department had reportedly abandoned approximately 2,000 cats in neighborhoods in the community over a three-year period. A resident said, “The return to field policy is just not working,” and another “noted there were especially a lot of cats on the block where the shooting occurred.” LawEnforcementToday.com reported that “the deputy was called to a neighborhood dispute over the feeding of feral cats when one of the men became upset.” He opened fire, hitting the deputy several times. The deputy returned fire, killing the resident.

May 2019/Summerville, South Carolina: JournalScene.com reported that two cats had been found in carriers apparently left by a member of the public inside a shed at a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Dorchester Paws. Temperatures in the area were high, at times soaring into triple digits. A volunteer reportedly found the cats after she followed their cries. The group, which receives public funding, requires that an appointment be made at least two weeks in advance and that a $125 surrender fee per animal is paid before it will consider accepting them from the public.

May 2019/Bemidji, Minnesota: BemidjiPioneer.com reported that “[t]wo sets of cats” had recently been left after closing time outside a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Great River Rescue. One of the cats, who was pregnant, was found in a crate that also contained two apparently stillborn kittens. The group reportedly has a waiting list to accept animals. Its website advises that there is a $50 surrender fee required per animal and that there could be a wait of two months or more before they may be accepted.

May 2019/Cass County, Indiana: WSBTV.com reported that three cardboard boxes full of cats and kittens had been found sealed shut with duct tape and left outside a turn-away facility doing business as the Cass County Humane Society. Temperatures were warm, and the animals were reportedly “all scared, very hot and panting.” WTHR.com reported that a couple of days later, a dog and cat inside a crate covered with a sheet were found outside the same facility, which was full and charges a $35 fee per animal before it will consider accepting them.

May 2019/Adams County, Mississippi: MagnoliaStateLive.com reported that a man had been arrested on cruelty-to-animals charges after a kitten was found “beaten and decapitated” outside a turn-away facility doing business as Natchez–Adams County Humane Society. Surveillance footage reportedly “showed a man, believed to be [the suspect], exiting the vehicle and … [apparently] reading the business hours on the door outside of the humane society before returning to his vehicle and pulling it to the side of the driveway. The man reportedly exited the vehicle again with piece of wood that looked like a [two-by-four] and walked to the passenger side and started beating something on the ground next to the vehicle.” A spokesperson for the group said in a 2017 interview that the facility, which is partly funded by tax dollars, uses a waiting list to accept animals and that it becomes backlogged.

May 2019/Utica, New York: WKTV.com reported that authorities were investigating after video footage showing the conditions at a self-professed “rescue” doing business as Road to Home Rescue Support was shared on social media. The video showed “dozens of dogs, in cages, barking nonstop” in a rented warehouse. The district attorney reportedly said, “Housing 115–118 dogs in cages to me is a problem. But the issue is, there’s no law that prohibits that.” He said that he’d “encourage people who feel there’s a void to contact their lawmakers at every level of government and demand tougher laws, more specific to companion animals.” A later report revealed that the property owner “had no idea [about] the amount of dogs currently being sheltered in the building” and planned to start eviction proceedings against operator Kim Strong. BigFrog104.com reported that authorities had toured the building. The town’s mayor reportedly called what he saw “beyond deplorable conditions” and said that it “brought him to tears.” He reportedly “had to compose himself” before talking to a reporter and saying, “It’s mind boggling that a person who portrayed herself as caring for animals like Kim Strong is even allowed to be around them.” After touring the building, the chief of police reportedly said, “No animal should have to live like this.” Investigators with the district attorney’s office reportedly planned “to visit the facility as well to take video of the conditions for their investigation.” Volunteers were trying to care for approximately 59 dogs who’d been left at the building when Strong had apparently abandoned the property days earlier.

May 2019/Woodhaven, Michigan: WXYZ.com reported that surveillance footage showed a woman abandoning a cat “in a dark plastic box meant for donations of … supplies” at a turn-away facility doing business as the Woodhaven and Trenton Animal Shelter. The facility advises on its website that a $40 fee is required before it will consider accepting animals from residents.

May 2019/Romoland, California: DesertSun.com reported that a 7-year-old girl “required 1,000 stitches to reconstruct her face after she was attacked by a Japanese fighting dog” named Tux at a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as A Passion for Paws Rescue, Inc. She reportedly sustained puncture wounds and “the injuries required three hours of surgery,” according to officials. Potential adopters with children had been encouraged to visit the dog with the following advertisement: “Tux wants to know if you have a kid he can play with? Or, are you a big kid?” An animal services news release reportedly said that the agency was investigating and that a database search found that since 2013, “at least five other serious bites involving dogs at or from this kennel” had been reported. Two of them occurred in 2018. The news release went on to say, “The investigation includes looking into a handful of other serious bites (that) involved dogs from the kennel.” The owner of the “rescue” group reportedly said that Tux “is not aggressive, nor had [he] illustrated any aggressive behavior in the past.” Authorities were seeking a court order to allow for euthanasia of the animal.

May 2019/Cumberland County, Virginia: NBC12.com reported that an elderly Cumberland County resident had been feeding dozens of homeless cats—he believes the number to be “between high 40s or low 50s”—and was unable to care for them adequately. He said that he’d “called animal control, local vets and other groups but was told their shelters were all full.” Most of the cats had evidently not been sterilized and were breeding, and many appeared ill or injured in the video news report. The man reportedly said that “taking care of all these animals takes up about 60 percent of his day.”

May 2019/Cañon City, Colorado: TheDenverChannel.com reported that “[m]ore than a half-dozen insiders, including former employees and current and former volunteers,” had alleged cruel treatment of animals at a “no-kill” facility doing business as the Humane Society of Fremont County. Allegations included “warehousing dogs [which] creates unnecessary suffering … and poorly managing dogs [who] go crazy from prolonged stays in a caged environment.” A former employee said, “I worked there for seven months. … I saw the most horrible things. I saw dogs go crazy in their kennels.” Another said that dogs were “being warehoused. … Kept sometimes two years and being hurt in the process.” Video footage showed a dog named Cracker “circling and circling in the kennel and the floor apparently blood-stained from his paws.” One of the former employees said, “He spins and spins in the kennel. He jumps on the chain link fence … he has no nails on the front of his paws, because he rips them out. It’s cruel and inhumane.” Many of those bringing concerns to the public’s attention reportedly said that “the heart of the issue is the shelter’s focus on [its] ‘no kill’ philosophy. They said, at times, that philosophy creates an environment that is inhumane and dangerous for animals.” Colorado’s Department of Agriculture reportedly performed “a surprise inspection” that “confirmed all the accusations raised by the insiders. The inspection uncovered more than a half dozen violations.” TheIndyChannel.com reported that the group’s executive director, Doug Rae, was the former director of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. He had reportedly been “a polarizing figure in Indianapolis and was fired eight months [after he was hired] …. During his tenure, the Indianapolis city animal shelter experienced slower response times, an increase in overtime pay, and fewer animals impounded, records show.”

May 2019/Mississippi to Wisconsin: NYPost.com reported that 20 dogs had been found dead in a truck that apparently belonged to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which “was transporting them from a site in Mississippi to one in Wisconsin, a spokesperson said.” It wasn’t clear where the dogs died or how, but a spokesperson reportedly said that the deaths were “not the result of a car crash.” It wasn’t reported whether authorities were investigating. No additional details were available.

May 2019/Beryl, Utah: KSL.com reported that “[a]n unknown number of animals” had died in a fire at a residence that was allegedly operating as an animal “rescue.” Cats and dogs were killed in the blaze, which “started in a patio attached to the home,” according to a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, who also said that the “house is a total loss.” No additional details were available.

May 2019/Mineola, New York: NYPost.com reported that nine days after he was adopted, a dog acquired from a self-professed “no-kill” organization doing business as North Shore Animal League America died after he was beaten by the adopters. He reportedly died “from a kidney rupture” as a result of blunt force trauma, according to prosecutors. After his death, the couple who adopted him, Jessica Kuncman and Ellie Knoller, reportedly purchased two dogs from a breeder. One was beaten to death three days after he was purchased, and the other sustained serious injuries, including “broken ribs, a forearm fractured in two places and a pulmonary contusion,” according to another adoption group that was providing her with medical treatment. The couple was charged “with over-driving, torturing and injuring animals. Knoller also faces a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.”

May 2019/Hollywood, Florida: MiamiHerald.com reported that authorities had seized 25 cats and four dogs from a man who said that “he was rescuing the animals from winding up at the Humane Society.” The animals were found on a hot day, “in cages or crates in the back of a U-Haul.” In a report, a police officer reportedly wrote, “I observed four dogs in three cages, two of which were in one cage and did not appear to have room to turn around or comfortably move about …. I observed no water or food accessible to two out of the three cages. Behind the dogs were several cages, which housed several cats and kittens …. I observed one black and white cat in a small carrier with yellow liquid throughout the floor of its carrier and covering the animal head to tail. (Animal Control advised it was a mix of urine, feces, food and water…).” The owner was charged with “29 counts of unlawful animal confinement, 29 counts of causing an animal cruel pain and suffering and 29 county ordinance violations for none of the animals having rabies vaccinations.”

May 2019/Pasco County, Florida: ABCActionNews.com reported that authorities had seized “nearly 40 dogs and cats” from a self-professed “no kill animal rescue” doing business as the Humane Society of West Florida. The animals had been found in a warehouse that lacked ventilation and air conditioning, according to a witness who assisted with the seizure and said, “That smell was a knockout punch.” He told the outlet that “several animals were being neglected; suffering from cancer, sores, fleas, infections and left in their own feces.” The executive director of the “rescue,” Sharon McReynolds, was reportedly facing “several citations including failure to vaccinate and failure to obtain animal license tags.” The facility had also been operating without a required license for approximately nine months. The owner of the warehouse where the animals were found said that he would not renew a lease with the group. The investigation was ongoing, with possible additional charges to come.

May 2019/New York, New York: ABC7NY.com reported that a pit bull mix who was adopted from the Animal Care Centers of New York had attacked and badly injured the adopter’s adult son the day after he was brought home to Staten Island. The mother said that “the ACC had told her the dog was not violent in any way.” The animal reportedly “made him fall and that’s when he started attacking him. He went actually for his face.” The man was hospitalized and scheduled for surgery. The dog “was taken to a 24-hour shelter in Manhattan.”

May 2019/De Soto, Iowa: DelawareOnline.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport had announced that it had “purchased 32 dogs at an auction” who had been bred at “a commercial small-dog breeding facility in Marion County, Iowa.” The state veterinarian had reportedly “confirmed several cases” of a zoonotic disease called canine brucellosis in dogs purchased from the breeder. The dogs bought by the facility were reportedly under quarantine.

May 2019/El Dorado, Arkansas: ElDoradoNews.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” adoption group doing business as Union County Animal Protection Society was full and not accepting any animals. The facility reportedly had 350 animals crammed into a building with a capacity of only 300 animals. “Imagine walking 350 dogs with only six people (UCAPS staff) every week, or every day,” a volunteer said. “It stresses the animals out … and then that makes them less adoptable.”

May 2019/Columbia, Maryland: McCall.com reported that authorities had seized 165 animals from a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as the Animal Welfare Society of Howard County. They reportedly “found the animals in poor health and ‘in unacceptable conditions’” after a “citizen had reported a foul odor, overcrowding and ‘a lack of cleanliness’” at the facility. Animals seized included cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered.

May 2019/Fort Pierce, Florida: CBS12.com reported that a volunteer with an animal adoption group doing business as the Humane Society of St. Lucie County had been found “dead in the play area” at its facility. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was blood loss from a dog attack. A pit bull mix was reportedly euthanized after the attack.

May 2019/Covington, Georgia: AJC.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Paws for Hope Rescue/TNR had been “charged with 73 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after authorities accused her of keeping scores of animals in unsanitary conditions and running a shelter without a license.” Elizabeth Warbington “surrendered 74 cats and one squirrel to Animal Control inspectors” after they were found living in “conditions with large amounts of accumulated excrement,” according to authorities. Inspectors found that “there was a ‘strong stench’ in the building” and that “food and water was contaminated,” according to the director of animal control. Warbington was reportedly “operating without a Department of Agriculture license or a Newton County business license” and had “previously been issued an order to stop selling cats and kittens by the Department of Agriculture.”

May 2019/Eastlake, Ohio: Cleveland19.com reported that authorities had seized 63 cats and 34 dogs from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Animal Rescue Center after they were found in conditions described as “deplorable.” Many of the dogs were reportedly “limping on the way out of the building,” and others had to be carried. According to a police report, “Some of these cats were observed to have what appeared to be respiratory issues. The cats would breath[e] through their mouths instead of their nostrils as they would normally do when they are healthy. There were cats [who] had what appeared to be green [pus] surrounding the eyes.” Authorities had reportedly “received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report. Every time they would do an inspection it had to be announced, which they claim in the report, gave the owner time to ‘clean the establishment or move sick animals.’” An informant reportedly gathered the evidence needed for a search and seizure warrant. The facility’s owner, Nadine Betchel, said that animals were denied food and water during business hours “because we know the animals will be taken in and out of the cages and they will spill it and we have a mess to clean up.” She also said, “You can clean them [cages], but 10 minutes later they’re dirty again. We can’t put corks in their butts.” News-Herald.com reported that a news release issued by authorities said that “there were animals at the rescue center with open wounds, skin conditions, upper respiratory virus, parvovirus, fleas, oral lesions, emaciation and dehydration.” The release said, “It was estimated that 75% of the population was dehydrated, with many of the cages lacking water bowls or having empty water bowls.” The case was ongoing.

May 2019/Seguin, Texas: DailyMail.co.uk reported that video surveillance footage showed two men “take a dog from the back of their car and push the frightened animal over a 6ft wall” at the Seguin Animal Services Shelter. It was reportedly “believed the dog’s owner may have tried to avoid paying admin fees for leaving [the animal] at the shelter legally during opening hours.” The Seguin Police Department said in a statement, “The Seguin Animal Services does accept owner surrender animals but there is a process to do so. … You are required to reside in the city to owner surrender and there are fees associated with it.” The dog wasn’t believed to have sustained permanent physical injuries.

May 2019/Shingle Springs, California: TahoeDailyTribune.com reported that authorities had seized nearly 300 animals from a couple who “claimed they were running a sanctuary for unwanted animals.” The animals included “more than 100 dogs and numerous cats, birds, horses, pigeons, ducks, roosters, hens and goats.” In addition, “another 22 dead animals were reportedly found in freezers at the location.” Some animals were reportedly in need of medical care, “especially the dogs.” The residence and a mobile home at the property were “deemed uninhabitable by the county after having been turned into kennels. … Besides the two homes, scattered around the property were numerous tents that held animals, along with pens, sheds, corrals and other structures.” The seized animals were taken to local shelters that became full as a result and had to close temporarily. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered. Sacramento.CBSLocal.com reported that hundreds of dogs had been found “stacked in cages with even more outside.” Neighbors told the station that they’d “been complaining about noise, feces, and overall funk for years.” One said, “This has been going on as long as I have been here since 2011.” The owner of the property had reportedly been trying to evict the renters.

May 2019/Denver, Colorado: KDVR.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Colorado Rescue Tails had surrendered its license to operate after “a state inspector found 12 violations at the rescue involving a lack of paperwork on the dogs’ health, adoptions and foster homes.” State inspectors reportedly said that owner Brianna Stephens “was fined $500 and voluntarily turned in her license.” Two people who had adopted dogs from the group said that the animals hadn’t received veterinary care and treatments that were allegedly included in adoption fees. One of them lacked a microchip and tested positive for heartworm. The group had reportedly imported 32 dogs from Texas before surrendering its license.

May 2019/Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: CBC.ca reported that a cat who’d been adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Saving Animals From Euthanasia Team had been beaten and drowned by the adopter’s boyfriend, James Ng. He allegedly told her that “he’d wanted to pet Picasso but the cat had hissed at him. Ng said that made him angry, so he repeatedly hit the cat on the head. Eventually, he took the animal to the bathtub, turned on the tap, held the cat around the neck and forced [Picasso] underwater.” He then tried to drown a second cat, named DaVinci, but the cat “put up a good fight” and escaped from the man. He also admitted to drowning a third cat. DaVinci was returned to the “rescue,” and Ng “pleaded guilty to killing two animals and willfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to those cats plus one other.” A sentencing hearing was scheduled.

April 2019/Flagler County, Florida: FlaglerLive.com reported that authorities had seized 10 dogs and eight cats from a home where they were found in “poor living conditions for any human or animals.” One of the owners, Mackenzi Steele, reportedly worked at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Safehaven Pet Rescue. Cats were found without access to water, and dogs were roaming the neighborhood and in and out of the home. A sheriff’s deputy reported that “fecal matter, urine, and dog food covered across the floors and walls.” According to authorities, “The amount of feces and urine did not happen over several hours. This is several days’ worth of being shut in this home.” Steele and her mother, Staci, were reportedly “served summonses” to respond within 20 days to a civil action “to determine whether they are fit to have custody of the animals, whether they ‘neglected and cruelly treated the animal(s),’ and whether they should pay for the care of the animals while they are being held.”

April 2019/Dayton, Ohio: WDTN.com reported that a public animal shelter doing business as Montgomery County Animal Resource Center had announced that it would “no longer handle cats effective immediately.” The new policy was apparently implemented to reduce the need to euthanize animals at the facility, which is funded with tax dollars. The report explained that “now the community lacks a quick place to drop cats off.” Private adoption groups in the area would reportedly “have to step up, by appointment only.” A spokesperson for one of them said, “We are a no-kill facility ourselves. So when people have an immediate need, there can be a waiting period, which is frustrating.” The interim director of the public shelter said, “The number one thing people need to understand about the Animal Resource Center is that it is no place for animals.”

April 2019/Jefferson County, Missouri: KSDK.com reported that a big-box store had suspended an agreement that it had with a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Open Door Animal Sanctuary to display animals for adoption because it had “‘serious concerns’ about the well-being and care of the shelter’s animals.” According to the report, “Last year, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, which oversees and regulates animal shelters, investigated Open Door and conducted multiple site visits.” The group was reportedly “found to have committed a number of violations pertaining to animal care and record keeping,” including “housing cats and kittens in storage areas [and] a kitten dying without a vet exam.” The group had also reportedly illegally sold an opioid medication to an individual. KMOV.com reported that a “former veterinarian at the facility” had told state investigators that “some of the animals had gone years without a vaccination or veterinary examination” and that “some shelter animals went days without veterinary care.” One cat had reportedly been confined at the “sanctuary” for seven years and wasn’t given a veterinary examination or vaccinations during that time. Additional allegations included workers forging rabies certificates and giving medication obtained for animals to workers after they were attacked by dogs at the facility, which a former employee said “happen[s] all the time.”

April 2019/Joshua Tree, California: Z1077FM.com reported that authorities had cited the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Moonlight Animal Rescue after they found 100 animals hoarded at her residence. They were reportedly called to the address “for a civil disturbance between roommates. Deputies found 20 to 30 cats in the main living area, as well as cages and animal feces.” The mother of an 18-month-old child at the property “was cited and released at the scene for child endangerment.” The investigation was apparently ongoing.

April 2019/Port Aransas, Texas: KZTV10.com reported that a dog who had been adopted from a publicly funded selective-admission facility doing business as Corpus Christi Animal Care Services had attacked and injured a woman who was walking on a beach. The dog was reportedly on a leash but managed to cause a “deep bite” that required “several staples to close the wounds.” The report revealed that “[p]aperwork provided by the Corpus Christi Animal Care Services shows that the dog has [a] history of aggressive behavior, as well as biting. . . . Despite the history of aggression, the dog was adopted out once again.” After the recent attack, he or she was reportedly euthanized.

April 2019/Mineral Wells, Texas: MineralWellsIndex.com reported that authorities had seized “52 dogs and four cats from their wire-caged confines inside a large industrial building” at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as A Pet’s Wish. The animals were found “living in poor conditions. With no electricity or air, the building’s interior had a strong smell one would expect from having a large number of animals inside,” according to a veterinarian who helped with the seizure. The animals had recently been moved to the location from Del Rio (see the February 2019/Del Rio, Texas, entry below), after the “rescue” was evicted amid neighbor complaints about “the stench and noise. When officials investigated, they found dead animals placed in freezers and a litany of unsanitary and poor conditions.” In Mineral Wells, “rescue” operator Katrina Dennis was found to be in violation of city codes, including “occupying a building without an occupancy permit and operating a large kennel without a permit.” After an inspection revealed “a strong smell, too many dogs confined in some cages and enclosures too small for some of the dogs kept in them,” the animals were seized.

April 2019/Tucson, Arizona: Tucson.com reported that the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) lacked adoption standards to protect animals released from the agency. The report said the following:

The lack of a firm policy on adopting dogs to homeless people became a hot-button issue after a community member shared her concerns over a situation in which a dog with a medical condition was adopted to a homeless man. The dog was later “saved” by someone, returned to PACC and the homeless man was allowed to adopt another dog, [who] was also returned to the shelter.

At a recent PACC Advisory Committee meeting, “a similar story was shared … detailing a homeless man who wasn’t able to care for his dogs, despite PACC’s outreach efforts.” According to a letter written by a PACC volunteer, “Not everyone is as responsible as the feel-good stories we are told.” It “went on to say that PACC needs to consider the risks to pets, including inadequate medical care or being hit by a car, when deciding whether it’s appropriate to adopt to homeless people.”

April 2019/Wilmington, Delaware: DelawareOnline.com reported that the remains of an unspecified number of dead cats had been removed from the home of a woman who “lived alone with stray cats she had taken in.” The woman had reportedly been hospitalized in January, after which time the cats had apparently been left without care. The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services was reportedly unable to “determine the number of cats found, due to the condition of the animals.” Neighbors said that they’d been “plagued” by the odor from the home “for months,” and at least one had brought it up at a neighborhood meeting with authorities in February. In 2010, a bill modeled after legislation promoted by “no-kill” extremists, deceptively called the Companion Animal Protection Act, was passed in Delaware. In 2014, a volunteer with an adoption group in the state said, “Delaware law changed several years ago concerning animals, so a lot of the shelters just completely shut down as far as accepting cats.”

April 2019/Denver, Colorado: The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association released a statement “opposing the no-kill movement” and explaining the following:

Protecting animal health and welfare, preventing and relieving animal suffering, and promoting public health are causes every veterinarian supports. Policies and legislation that remove professional judgement and knowledge in animal welfare and public health are counter to those causes; we cannot and will not support them. . . . The no-kill movement increases animal suffering and threatens public health with unintended consequences:

  • Animals in need are turned away from shelters because shelters are not able to meet required live release rates if they are admitted.
  • Animals languish in cages until they die to avoid euthanasia.
  • Dangerous dogs are placed in the community or remain indefinitely in shelters because of release requirements.
  • Shelters can no longer accept lost or homeless animals from the community because cages are full of behaviorally or medically-challenged animals who cannot be placed in homes.
  • Animal welfare is at risk because shelters are beyond capacity-of-care.

April 2019/Charlotte County, Florida: WINKNews.com reported that authorities had seized 72 animals from a self-professed animal “rescuer” who said that she “was operating an animal rescue organization out of her home.” The animals were “found living inside a home in deplorable conditions. The floors of the house were covered in urine and feces. Cats, pigs, reptiles, hamsters, rats, mice and a dog were seized. The [animals’] health issues range from significant to critical.” The majority of approximately 30 cats found were reportedly sick with a contagious condition. The owner, Elizabeth Smock, had been charged with cruelty to animals in 2015 while operating a self-professed “rescue” doing business as Every Creature’s Salvation (see the August 2015/Port Charlotte, Florida, entry below) but was reportedly found not guilty. It wasn’t reported whether charges would be pursued in the recent case.

April 2019/Montgomery County, Tennessee: TheLeafChronicle.com reported that a judge had dismissed a lawsuit brought against the county and three individuals by a self-professed animal “rescuer” after 15 dogs were removed from her residence. The plaintiff, Cindy Leeann King, had reportedly been “a volunteer working with Chinese Shar-Pei Rescue Inc.” and “also volunteered at the Montgomery County Animal Control shelter” when she was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant after she was stopped for speeding. She reportedly called and asked someone to check on 15 dogs at her residence. The individual said, “When I opened the back door to the residence, my husband and I immediately gagged, and we recoiled from the pungent smell of decaying feces and urine emanating from inside the residence.” Court documents reportedly revealed that “[i]nside, the house was in disarray, and it was impossible to walk without stepping on animal waste .… The dogs had no access to food, and several had no access to water. One was in a cage, and one was later found trapped in an upstairs bedroom with no water.” Authorities were called, and it was “determined the dogs were in need of medical attention and were living in a ‘biohazard environment.’” The animals were seized, and King was reportedly told later that she could reclaim them after paying the cost of their care, which she said that she couldn’t afford. The report said, “U.S. District Judge William Campbell Jr. found that the officers were justified in entering the home and taking custody of the dogs. The court also found that animal control acted properly in holding the dogs and later adopting them out. The case was dismissed.”

April 2019/Dover, North Carolina: WCTI12.com reported that authorities had seized nearly 300 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as I Will Carry You Animal Sanctuary. “Dogs, goats, pigs, birds, roosters, horses, snakes and more” had reportedly been seized from conditions described as “disgusting.” At least one dead animal was found on the property. The county sheriff reportedly said “that some of the puppies sold by the nonprofit had died from the parvovirus” and that horses at the property had been found in “bad shape.” “Rescue” owners Deborah and Cori Hall faced misdemeanor charges, and additional charges were reportedly pending. USNews.com reported that the sheriff “said the animals had no water and hadn’t been vaccinated” and that “most of the dogs were living in barrel-shaped shelters with no straw or bedding.”

April 2019/Ulster, New York: DailyFreeman.com reported that a man was attacked by a pit bull two days after adopting her from a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Ulster County SPCA. The 71-year-old was reportedly outside his residence when it happened and was taken by ambulance to a medical center. The dog was returned to the group. A spokesperson said that “[t]his is an example of a dog being a dog” and that the group may put the animal up for adoption again.

April 2019/Cleveland, Ohio: WKYC.com reported that authorities had seized “approximately 18 or 19 dogs” from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Live, Love, Rescue. A former volunteer for the “rescue” reportedly “described as many as 30 dogs, at one point, living in cages stacked on top of each other in the small home, and not let out to use the bathroom. She says dogs were constantly barking and exhibiting high stress. Windows were blocked to keep people from seeing the dogs if they heard barking.” A neighbor reportedly said that “she had complained about the smell and sanitary concerns to police and the health department, but nothing was ever done.” Another was concerned because no one ever saw the dogs outside being walked. The investigation was reportedly “in its initial stages,” and no additional details were available.

April 2019/Las Vegas, Nevada: KTNV.com reported that the Nevada attorney general was investigating a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) for a “massive misuse of money [that] was meant for the animals, but instead … [had] been used for personal expenses by board president Kathy Jung.” Jung reportedly “had an NSPCA debit card and used it to spend more than $148,000 in 2018 alone at places like the PGA store, Pier One, Cost Plus, Michael Kors, Ulta, and Sketchers, among others.” According to the complaint, she “also made ATM withdrawals and got cash back on a number of purchases. She wrote $14,300 in checks from the petty cash account in 2018—all payable to cash and all signed and endorsed by her with no receipts or backup documentation.” In addition, “more than $26,000 was spent in 2018 for meals, travel, and entertainment—an increase of over 3,000 percent from the previous year.” Financial records from the shelter “also prove Jung wrote multiple checks to her boyfriend, Scott Reber—who works at a local car dealership .… In total, Jung’s boyfriend received more than $52,000 with almost every check signed only by Jung and no backup invoices.” After the group’s board of directors had been made aware of the “escalating non-animal related spending,” five members reportedly “allowed Jung to remain on the board.”

April 2019/Warren, Ohio: Vindy.com reported that a 5-year-old girl required hospitalization and plastic surgery after she was attacked by a 90-pound American bulldog mix her family had adopted the previous day from a public animal shelter doing business as Trumbull County Dog Warden and Kennel. The girl’s father reportedly said that the family “thought we were doing a good deed to rescue the dog from the Trumbull County Dog Pound, and they told us on the paperwork he was great with everyone. The next day, he just mauled her.” The dog was reportedly placed under a 10-day quarantine and scheduled to be euthanized after that.

March 2019/Cordova, Tennessee: WMCActionNews5.com reported that authorities had seized more than two dozen animals from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer.” They included 17 cats, one of whom was found dead, and a dog from inside a single-family home and eight cats found in a shed. According to an affidavit, “many of the animals appeared to be suffering from respiratory, skin, and eye infections” and the animals in the shed “had no heat, air or ventilation.” An animal services spokesperson said of the home, “Pretty much every surface was covered in feces or urine .… In some places the feces was up to about an inch thick.” The homeowner, Charlotte Creasy, was charged with 26 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. In 2014, she was reportedly “cited for animal abuse and neglect after Tipton County animal control seized nearly 100 cats from inside a former deli on Highway 70. Investigators said she claimed to be running a rescue organization. WMC5 uncovered court documents that show she plead guilty and was found guilty on three counts of cruelty to animals in the case. The charges were suspended under special conditions—Creasy could not manage or supervise any animal rescue, but she could volunteer and own pets.”

March 2019/Mount Clemens, Michigan: Freep.com reported that authorities had seized 88 cats, a dog, and a fish found hoarded at the home of a woman who “claimed to be running a sanctuary.” The animals were reportedly “found during an eviction process.” An animal control spokesperson said that “a lot of the cats need medical attention .… Some were very thin and may have upper respiratory infections and intestinal parasites.” Following the seizure, the public shelter was reportedly full of cats and wouldn’t accept any more. The investigation was ongoing.

March 2019/Niceville, Florida: WEARTV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue shelter” in Niceville, doing business as Danny’s DogHouse. “Dogs, cats, squirrels, and a possum” were reportedly seized after they were found “in a dark room squished together in cramped quarters.” A spokesperson for a group assisting with the seizure said, “It was very dark back there, even at two o’clock in the afternoon . . . . Most of them are underweight. We’ve got one dog that has a very large tumor on [his or her] side. We’ve got another dog that is urinating blood. We’ve got some body injuries on them.” Reportedly, “the room was filled with cobwebs and the dogs were lying in urine and feces.” Many of the dogs were reportedly “matted and had skin or eye conditions.” NewsHerald.com reported that “[s]ome of the dogs … showed signs of malnutrition, and some had mites on their skin. … [A] couple were urinating blood, one had a noticeable tumor and another was unable to stand up.” A veterinarian at an animal hospital next to the property reportedly “said she had not seen the owner bring the dogs outside in weeks.” She said, “We’ve known from some time there were serious abuses happening here .… We tried to report him anonymously several times, and that didn’t work.” A week before the raid, NWFDailyNews.com reported that 21 dead animals had been found at an associated property in Crestview. The report revealed that “[n]ine dogs, six cats and two rabbits were found in a garbage can in various stages of decomposition. Another four dead dogs were found wrapped in blankets in the treeline. . . . The man who was at the house said he is moving the Danny’s Dog House shelter to the [Niceville] address.” The discovery led to the search and seizure at the Niceville property.

March 2019/Austin, Texas: Statesman.com reported that the Austin Animal Center had “reached critical capacity and is running out of space to hold animals.” A spokesperson for the facility said that it had “taken in nearly 100 animals in the past two days and has had to convert a conference room into kennel space to house a surplus of medium-sized and large dogs over the past six months. Staff members also are holding dogs in offices and were preparing to turn another conference room into kennel space.”

March 2019/Dallas, Texas: WFAA.com reported that former UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock was under investigation after allegedly tying a dog to a truck and abandoning her at an airport. She was found five days later. Shamrock said that he had traveled to the area to help his ailing mother move and that she was unable to take her two dogs with her. He found a home for one of them but “claimed he tried to find a shelter or someone to take” the second dog but was unsuccessful. After she was found, she was taken to a public animal shelter. KSAT.com reported that Shamrock said he had called “every shelter and no kill pet center within 200 miles” but that none would accept the older dog. She had reportedly since been adopted.

March 2019/Pueblo, Colorado: KKTV.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as PAWS for Life had “relinquished its license to operate the city and county animal shelter amid a state investigation into shelter conditions and high number of animal deaths.” State inspectors had reportedly found repeated violations of animal-protection regulations at the public facility doing business as Community Animal Services of Pueblo, including the following:

  • Overcrowded living areas for cats . . .
  • Untimely care for animals (Commissioners specifically referenced a case where a dog was hit by a car, did not receive care for several days, and died on the fifth day.) . . .
  • Staff was not cleaning and disinfecting enclosures and cages as required.
  • Healthy animals were sharing living spaces with animals being treated for/or suspected to have communicable illnesses. . . .
  • Several animals appeared to be neglected, in that they need veterinary care and had not been seen. Some were in poor condition/distress due to their ailments, yet records showed they had gone days or weeks without care.

Fourteen animals had reportedly died at the facility in the less than the two months that PAWS had been contracted to operate it. Chieftain.com reported that it had received confirmation from the facility that during the contract, PAWS had also turned away “at least one resident with a severely injured cat.”

March 2019/Manatee County, Florida: ABCActionNews.com reported that a 6-week-old kitten was in critical condition after a publicly funded animal shelter turned him away. A spokesperson for the Manatee County Animal Services facility said, “For owner surrender, we require an appointment to take those.” Surveillance footage showed that after they were turned away, the couple who had taken him to the shelter left the kitten in the parking lot. He was found hours later with severe injuries sustained when he was run over in the lot. “He basically has a crushed skull,” said the spokesperson. He was “under 24-hour care” and would require “surgeries and rehabilitation” if he survived. MySuncoast.com later reported that the kitten “had trouble maintaining his body temperature over the weekend” and died inside a cage.

March 2019/Cape Coral, Florida: NBC-2.com reported that it wasn’t known what had happened to four pit bulls who were given to a woman who allegedly agreed to drive them to Iowa for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Helping Paws 22. The group had reportedly obtained the dogs from area open-admission animal shelters and paid a woman $1,250 to drive them to an adoption group in Iowa. The group’s president said, “She basically took the funds, took the four dogs, and refused to give their location or return them.” The president “said the dogs are microchipped and have been marked as stolen.” The woman who allegedly agreed to transport the dogs had reportedly been arrested before and had previously been “charged with credit card theft, grand theft in the 2nd degree and organized fraud.”

March 2019/Elk Grove, California: SacBee.com reported that authorities had seized 58 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Elk Grove Animal Rescue, which reportedly “also operates under the names Davis Rescue and Rehabilitation and Davis Animal Rescue.” Authorities said the animals had been “left … without proper care for 48 hours” and that “[s]everal puppies at the site tested positive for parvovirus.” When animal services workers entered a barn at the property the previous month, they reportedly found that “it had a strong odor of urine and feces, dogs of both sexes and various ages were not separated, and the animals had gone without food or water for 24 hours.” The report stated, “The dogs immediately rushed to the water bowls and drank excessively for approximately two minutes .… “[Authorities] observed a large Pit Bull dog inside a plastic crate that was not large enough for the … dog to turn around in, [his or her] head was crouched inside, and [the dog] was unable to extend [his or her] tail.” Puppies found appeared sick and dehydrated. “At least one died before receiving treatment, and at least one puppy had to be euthanized after not responding to treatment and continuing to suffer with parvovirus,” according to the report. The group’s owner, Krista Mitchell, had reportedly been “served a temporary restraining order by her landlord … [after she] failed to pay rent and did not clean up after her dogs.” Eviction proceedings were reportedly ongoing. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered.

March 2019/Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: PoconoRecord.com reported that an injured dog had been left outside in freezing temperatures overnight at a turn-away adoption facility doing business as Camp Papillon Animal Shelter. The dog was found in the morning “frigid and frightened” and tied to a bench, which had been turned over. The kennel manager said, “He was really distressed, and we discovered he had a really bad head wound. We weren’t sure what happened, but there was really pronounced swelling, and it looked possibly infected.” He was taken to a veterinary hospital, where “veterinarians were able to clean and treat the puss-filled [sic] abscess found above the dog’s right eye.” The manager said that the group only accepts animals after an appointment has been made and the facility has determined that they’re considered “safe and placeable.”

March 2019/Pompano Beach, Florida: PointPubs.com reported that a pit bull mix who had been adopted from a “humane society” had escaped from his home and attacked and killed a cat who was allowed to roam outdoors without supervision. According to a police report, the dog, acquired approximately one year before, had also recently attacked and injured or killed an opossum. When the cat’s owners heard her screaming, one of them ran outside and tried to stop the attack but said she was “almost severed in half.” The dog had reportedly been returned to the group twice before the current owner adopted him or her. Authorities fined the owner $250. 

March 2019/Virginia Beach, Virginia: PilotOnline.com reported that authorities had seized 100 dead and 25 live cats from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” and that criminal charges were pending against her. In 2009, 60 dead and 60 live cats had been removed from the custody of the same woman, Lisa D. Ross. At that time, her attorney reportedly “told reporters [his client] ran a cat rescue and was licensed to keep a large number of felines.”

March 2019/Becker County, Minnesota: ValleyNewsLive.com reported that four kittens had been found abandoned in the snow, taped inside a plastic tote outside a turn-away facility doing business as Humane Society of the Lakes. They were reportedly showing “signs of distress” and “were shivering and scared.” An adult female cat was later found in the snow nearby and appeared to be the kittens’ mother. The limited-admission facility was reportedly full and had a waiting list before it would consider assisting homeless and unwanted animals.

March 2019/Gratiot County, Michigan: TheMorningSun.com reported that the Gratiot County Animal Control Shelter was scheduled to “go from an ‘open admission’ facility to ‘limited admission,’ which means not all animals will be accepted by staff.” The county facility would reportedly stop accepting many animals beginning April 1, including “feral cats, kittens and puppies that weigh less than two pounds or are eight weeks old or younger, pot belly pigs, gravely ill or injured animals, birds and water fowl.” Workers would also reportedly “have the discretion to refuse any animal, other than dogs.” The policy change was aimed at “reduc[ing] the number of animals that have to be euthanized.”

March 2019/Olancha, California: KIBSKBOV.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 160 animals from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Wild Burro Rescue and Preservation Project. Animals included “burros, mules, horses and other livestock suffering from varying degrees of long-term neglect. Several animals had hooves so overgrown that they curled under and continued to grow backwards toward the hind legs; many were unable to stand, and reaching food and water was difficult.” Six burros were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. Owner Diane Chonto “was taken into custody and booked for felony animal cruelty.”

March 2019/Des Moines, Iowa: DesMoinesRegister.com reported that the state’s attorney general had filed a lawsuit against “four Iowans masquerading puppy-mill puppies as rescue animals and selling them for as much as $3,600 each.” The four were accused of “violat[ing] the state’s consumer fraud act, among other abuses.” Reportedly, “[t]he state seeks to shut down their operations, Hobo K9 Rescue and JAK’s Puppies … and Rescue Pets Iowa. … The state also seeks $40,000 in fines for each violation of the state’s consumer fraud act.”

March 2019/Los Angeles, California: TheEpochTimes.com reported that authorities were investigating after a dog who had been adopted from an unnamed animal shelter was found six months later. The animal was “starving, had multiple infections, was missing his lower jaw, had broken and missing teeth, and had maggots in his chest area. His fur was matted and caked with feces and dried urine.” A spokesperson for an adoption group that took him in said, “When we shaved him, maggots were found crawling all through and over his chest and belly, and he had scalded urine stains.” Records apparently obtained from the shelter that adopted him out showed “that in September 2018, he had an intake exam that listed severe dental disease, ear infections, and multiple cysts, but was then given an exit exam that same day. It is unknown what happened to him.” He was being treated.

March 2019/Roseville, Michigan: DetroitNews.com reported that authorities had seized 33 dogs from a garage at a cemetery where they had been warehoused in cages by a self-professed animal “rescuer.” A police spokesperson reportedly “said the dogs were being held in bad conditions and were in need of immediate attention.” Authorities were told by the “rescuer” that “she was running a rescue in Oakland County.” WXYZ.com later reported that an additional 10 dogs had been found and seized from the woman. Before and after photos of one of the dogs were published, and a veterinary hospital where he was treated wrote the following on its Facebook page:

Photos could not even do justice for how bad this little guy looked and smelled. He was covered in feces and urine from his ears, to his eyes, to his entire body. … [H]e was so bad that we had to put him under sedation to begin removing all his hair. He was dehydrated, loaded with hook worms, and just plain sick from being so filthy. He is missing a foot and we do not know how that occurred.

A police spokesperson reportedly said that a citation would be issued “concerning unlicensed kennels.” It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered.

March 2019/Temperance, Michigan: WTOL.com reported that at least six puppies had died and “[d]ozens of other dogs have endured painful—and expensive—bouts with [parvo] or infestation with worms or other parasites” after they were adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Northbound Hound. The deaths and illnesses had occurred “since the shelter opened in May.” One adopted puppy had been kept in a cage at the adopter’s home. The adopter said that when she “opened up the garage door to come in the house, I knew something wasn’t right.” She said, “There was an awful smell .… I opened up the crate, and she was covered with her diarrhea and vomit.” The puppy was reportedly diagnosed with “an extreme strain of parvo and spent a week in the hospital, racking up close to $10,000 in bills.” Another dog began vomiting so violently when she was taken home that the adopter said it seemed like she “was on the verge of vomiting up her intestines.” The dog was returned to the “rescue” and died days later. Concerned residents reportedly told the outlet that “Michigan should be doing more, including holding shelters accountable for selling sick dogs or educating the public about the risks of buying a ‘rescue’ puppy.”

March 2019/Jacksonville, Florida: FirstCoastNews.com reported that a pit bull mix who was being fostered for a self-professed “no-kill” adoption group doing business as Jacksonville Humane Society had attacked and killed a Chihuahua named Peanut who was being walked on a leash at a condominium complex. Peanut’s guardian said, “She was crying, she was in so much pain, I can only imagine because I [can] feel [pain from] some [of the] bites on me, but I wasn’t the one ripped wide open.” A neighbor reportedly tried to help stop the attack by “jump[ing] on top of the dog while another person punched the dog in the face.” Peanut was rushed to a veterinary hospital, where she died. The foster dog was returned to the adoption group for a required quarantine period. The condominium complex reportedly didn’t allow dogs weighing more than 20 pounds at the property and “the homeowner’s association says they are cracking down on their pet policy and that could mean evictions.”

March 2019/Sumter, South Carolina: Live5News.com reported that four Chihuahuas had been thrown over a 9-foot-high fence after hours at the Sumter SPCA, which states on its website, “Financial contributions are requested from individuals who bring the animals to the shelter to help defray operational expenses.” Two of the dogs escaped the fenced area and were hit and killed by cars. The other two were being treated. One had sustained “a few scratches from being thrown over the fence,” and the other tested positive for heartworm. The survivors were reportedly “extremely frightened from the ordeal.”

March 2019/Moline, Illinois: WQAD.com reported that the operations coordinator of Rock Island County Animal Care & Control had said that animals adopted from the shelter were routinely found on social media sites “for sale a few days later.” It was described as “an ongoing problem.

March 2019/Kansas City, Missouri: KMBC.com reported that a puppy had been left after hours tied to a fence post in freezing temperatures at a turn-away facility doing business as KC Pet Project. The report said, “The problem of animals being dumped outside the shelter has been happening over and over again. One puppy was left under a bench and out of sight.” The facility requires fees and appointments, among other requirements, before animals will be considered for admittance.

March 2019/Sharonville, Ohio: WCPO.com reported that a woman had been arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after a dog she adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” group doing business as Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue was found abandoned in a cage behind an animal shelter. When he was found, he was reportedly “malnourished and dying” and covered with sores. The adopter “admitted to leaving him in his cage most of the day.” In response to the case, the group was allegedly “now requiring a more detailed veterinary history and background check for applicants, asking new questions and checking with even more personal references.” The dog was being treated.

March 2019/Lubbock, Texas: LubbockOnline.com reported that the owner of six pit bull mixes who attacked and killed an elderly woman named Johnnie Garner had tried to surrender them to a publicly funded animal shelter doing business as Lubbock Animal Services (LAS) days before the attack. The owner “reportedly showed investigators his call logs that showed he called the service two days before the attack on Garner to arrange a time for him to drop off the animals.  … He was told he needed to make an appointment to drop off the animals and the earliest time would have been the morning of March 1.” Garner was attacked on February 27 in her backyard: “The dogs tore portions of her leg, exposing various tissue, tendons and bones .… She also suffered puncture wounds all over both of her arms, on the back of her left leg near her thigh and puncture wounds to the back of her neck,” according to an arrest warrant. The dogs had also attacked a neighbor and killed a dog in the neighborhood before the day they attacked Garner. When the owner called LAS, he reportedly explained to the agency that “he could not care for them and keep them secure.” The dogs were euthanized after the attack, and the owner was arrested and “faces a count of attack by dog causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 20 years in prison. However, prosecutors plan to use a previous conviction to enhance White’s punishment range, if he is convicted, according to the arrest warrant.”

February 2019/Helena, Montana: KTVQ.com reported that two cats had been abandoned during business hours in the snow outside a turn-away facility doing business as Lewis and Clark Humane Society. It was reportedly 17 degrees outside at the time. The cats were found within 10 minutes and didn’t sustain any injuries. The facility reportedly charges an admission fee of $25 per animal.

February 2019/Leawood, Kansas: FOX4KC.com reported that authorities were searching for a dog who had escaped from a home where he or she was being fostered for a self-professed animal “rescue” group doing business as Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption. The dog was one of a group of 26 who had been imported by the group from Egypt, one of whom had since tested positive for rabies. State health officials were trying to locate all the dogs in order to quarantine them.

February 2019/San Antonio, Texas: KSAT.com reported that authorities had seized at least 23 animals from a self-professed dog “rescuer” after they were found in “deplorable conditions” at her home. Investigators reportedly “found dogs of varying ages, including 15 puppies … kept without food, water or shelter.” Some dogs were kept outdoors without access to shelter when the weather had been cold and rainy. Others were found in filthy conditions inside the home. One dog was discovered in a cage “along with what [investigators] believe are the remains of a small dead animal.” The “rescuer” was arrested on unrelated outstanding warrants and was facing charges of cruelty to animals. MySanAntonio.com reported that the suspect “fosters dogs for a rescue organization.” The organization’s name wasn’t reported.

February 2019/Jacksonville, North Carolina: JDNews.com reported that state authorities had denied a facility license to a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Ruby’s Misfits Animal Rescue. The group’s codirectors reportedly said that “[t]hey were given a list of upgrades, repairs, and other specifics” but hadn’t made any improvements to the building. A spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture said, “We basically told them that they are not allowed to operate a shelter.” Later, the agency was alerted by local officials “that a large shipment of animals was coming in from out of state” and was going to be housed at the unlicensed building. When state inspectors visited, “they found animals inside the building in crates and without water, with heaters set up nearby.” One of the group’s codirectors said that the dogs would be farmed out to foster homes and that all the “dogs are housed this way until they are adopted.”

February 2019/Norwalk, Iowa: WHOTV.com reported that three pregnant goats and two cats had died in a fire at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Shangrala Horse & Animal Rescue. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

February 2019/Fort Worth, Texas: DFW.CBSLocal.com reported that a 5-month-old puppy who’d been adopted in November from the Fort Worth Animal Shelter (which “has been focused on increasing its animal shelter live release rate,” according to the city’s website) had been returned in February emaciated, bleeding, and unable to walk. He was so starved that he had to be “given food every four hours and has an IV.” In addition, he “was covered in mange and his eyes were so infected he couldn’t open them.” He was infested with internal and external parasites, and the adopter reportedly told shelter staff that she hadn’t provided the animal with any care since the adoption. An investigation was undertaken.

February 2019/Citrus County, Florida: ChronicleOnline.com reported that two dogs who had escaped from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Out of the Box Animal Rescue had attacked and killed eight goats at a neighboring property. The goats’ owner said, “It was like a killing field.” Authorities were called and reportedly had to sedate one of the dogs in order to contain him or her. The dogs had been released to the “rescue” by the county-run animal shelter after they’d been “in and out of the system” for years. According to the facility’s director, before being released to the “rescue,” they had been adopted and returned to the county shelter at least three times, the final time after biting someone and exhibiting “aggressive tendencies.” The “rescue” and its owner, Robert Schweickert Jr., has a long list of run-ins with law enforcement and the courts, according to the report, and had allegedly chained another dog released by the county shelter to a wall, where she hanged and choked to death. (See the May 2018/Citrus County, Florida, and the January 2018/Citrus County, Florida, entries below.)

February 2019/Cokato, Minnesota: FOX9.com reported that 14 hours after he’d been adopted, a dog from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as K9 Rescue and Rehoming died of parvo. Two additional complaints had reportedly been filed against the “rescue” and its operator, Mandy DuChaine, alleging that “dogs adopted were ‘underweight’, ‘unhealthy’ and that DuChaine had ‘misrepresented the health’ of one of the animals.” A woman told a reporter that she was fostering a dog for the group who had been given to her in a parking lot and was pregnant, which hadn’t been disclosed. According to a humane society investigator, “[T]here are some 500 animal rescues in Minnesota, and generally, while many are good, there’s no regulation or oversight.” He said, “[A]t some point the money, the profit from the puppy sales starts creeping in. They start sacrificing environmental conditions for profit margin and things go downhill from here. They hide behind the guise of they’re a rescue, how can they be doing anything bad.” According to the report, K9 Rescue and Rehoming had claimed on its website and brochures that it was a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, “but FOX 9 checked with the IRS and discovered the group’s non-profit status was revoked two years ago.” After a reporter questioned DuChaine, the claims were reportedly removed.

February 2019/Austin, Texas: AustinChronicle.com reported that in a bid to proclaim that it’s “no-kill,” the Austin Animal Center “is always filled to capacity.” The article said that because of “a shortage of kennel space and a surplus of dogs, shelter staff has been forced to find any and all ways to house the animals left over. In addition to playrooms and conference areas, dogs can also sometimes be found in staff offices or left waiting in animal control trucks.” Work had reportedly begun on yet another expansion of the facility. Longtime volunteers had filed complaints with city officials, including allegations that “[c]onditions at the shelter, for both humans and animals, continued to deteriorate, as volunteers began to report being suspended or terminated, sometimes after years of service, in what they viewed as retribution for speaking out.” The article stated that they’ve “raised questions about troubling adoptions, kennel conditions, and shelter practices, including a perceived failure to appropriately enforce the department’s spay/neuter requirements.” Dogs were reportedly “not getting regular exercise (a major stressor) … [and] some weren’t even getting appropriate bathroom breaks.” A volunteer testified that “[l]eaving dogs isolated in those conditions leads to longer stays … thus forcing the shelter to get creative and perhaps cut corners in its adoption tactics, with dogs and cats being placed in homes quickly and at a reduced or waived fee.” A volunteer said that “overcrowding does create the impetus for what I would consider ‘cleaning house’ events, zero-cost adoptions that do have recidivism as it relates to returns of dogs.” Such “cleaning house” events included “the recent, cringe-worthy ‘$5 Footlong Adoption Day’ for animals at least 12 inches long.” Former Interim Assistant City Manager Sara Hensley reportedly “acknowledged that the $12 million Austin Animal Center was never designed to sustain no-kill. Often, every single available kennel is full, some containing two (compatible) dogs.”

February 2019/Middletown, Connecticut: MiddletownPress.com reported that after a resident had been turned away from the Waterford branch of the Connecticut Humane Society (CHS), a surveillance camera had captured him abandoning the animal in a cage at a sports complex. Police began investigating after a parks and recreation employee found the cat and reviewed video surveillance footage from the previous night. The animal had been outside overnight when temperatures dipped to 20 degrees. After stills from the footage were publicized, a witness came forward “to report that [the resident] had unsuccessfully tried to surrender the cat” to CHS before abandoning the animal. He was charged with cruelty to animals.

February 2019/Del Rio, Texas: SanAngeloLive.com reported that authorities had found 78 dogs and 23 cats hoarded at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as A Pet’s Wish. Two months after purchasing a building and leasing it to the group, the owner said that he “began receiving calls from concerned Del Rioans about the poor conditions at the shelter.” A neighbor said that she’d complained to city officials in 2017, expressing concerns “about the animals’ health and safety,” parasite infestations created by the horde of animals, and a malodor at the property that “permeates our residences and vehicles parked nearby.” She also “observed multiple dogs caged in kennels that were too small and in metal cages vulnerable to lightning strikes.” The group was evicted from the property, where the owner said that he found dogs “‘housed’ in enclosures measuring 4’x4′.” The man “produced photos of three dogs in this size enclosure.” He said that “[a]nimals were not being cared for. Some were caged for up to three years.” An unspecified number of dead puppies were found in a freezer that “had been unplugged for days before the discovery.” Many animals were sent to other adoption groups. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered.

February 2019/Astatula, Florida: DailyCommercial.com reported that a resident was allowed to adopt a Tosa (a dog bred for fighting) from a publicly funded, self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as the Lake County Animal Shelter to be used as a guard. The adopter said that when she got the dog home, she chained him “on a steel chain in her yard.” She then let another dog she owned, a Chihuahua, into the yard, where the Tosa attacked and killed him. The adopted dog then escaped from the yard and attacked another dog who was being walked on a leash. That dog’s owner said that he was knocked down and that his dog was “like a folded rag” in the Tosa’s mouth: “He was just squealing; it was the worst sound in the world.” He reportedly “tried to fight the dog off with a citrus wood walking stick, which snapped in the process.” Then “a neighbor came out and started hitting the attacking dog with a shovel.” Because he was badly injured and dangerous, he was euthanized. The adopted dog’s “bio provided by the shelter said he ‘should not be around cats at all,’ though it didn’t mention small dogs. That document described him as ‘friendly on intake and seeking attention from staff,’ ‘easy to handle,’ and ‘has a happy demeanor and appears to be soft and wiggly.’” The surviving dog required emergency surgery and “now has stitches and a drain in his neck. He’s on a pain killer, which renders him aloof. To avoid infection, he’s also on two antibiotics.”

February 2019/Clinton, New York: WKTV.com reported that a resident had seen two kittens thrown from the window of a car behind a store. He was able to capture one of them, but the other one ran off. He took the kitten to an animal hospital and adoption group, and a trap was set for the missing kitten. The group’s director said that another cat had recently been admitted after a resident had seen the animal thrown from the window of a vehicle in front of her apartment. She said that area shelters were full. “People are getting desperate. They don’t know what to do with cats and they’re just disposing of them,” she said. Authorities had been notified.

February 2019/Wahkiakum County, Washington: TDN.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 65 animals, including cats, chickens, dogs, goats, and two horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Angel Wings Rescue. Many of the animals were reportedly “skinny and appeared to have been neglected.” A sheriff’s department spokesperson said that the agency had “received videos and photos from potential adopters who witnessed animals in poor conditions” at the property, resulting in the seizure. The prosecutor’s office was reportedly “involved in the ongoing investigation.”

February 2019/Desert Hot Springs, California: KESQ.com reported that federal authorities were investigating suspected financial mismanagement by the former president of a group that professes to be “Southern California’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary,” doing business as Humane Society of the Desert. Former President Malinda Bustos was accused of using the group’s credit cards and bank accounts for luxury items, including “charges made to the Omni Rancho las Palmas, Riviera Palm Springs, Miramonte Resort and La Quinta Resort. Plus St. John, Sunglass Hut Gucci, Planet Beauty, Sephora and Hot Spot Tanning.” Funds were also allegedly spent on cosmetic surgery, and statements reportedly showed “tens of thousands of dollars spent at luxury resorts, stores and restaurants over the course of two or more years.” Evidence reportedly showed “Humane Society funds going toward sushi dinners, and TrueCare cosmetic surgery in Chino Hills to the tune of several thousand dollars a month.” Bustos and her husband, who was also on the group’s board, reportedly “own a $1.3 million, 4.86 acre property north of Phoenix.”

February 2019/Orange County, Florida: WFTV.com reported that more than 30 animals, including dogs, parrots, snakes, and four giant tortoises, had died in a fire at a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary. The property reportedly housed “as many as 300 to 350 animals, ranging from dogs and cats to pigs and swans” at any given time, according to firefighters. The cause of the fire wasn’t reported.

February 2019/Langdon, New Hampshire: NECN.com reported that authorities had seized 26 horses from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as St. Francis Farm Sanctuary & Rescue. Its owner, Olexandra Beck, had previously voluntarily surrendered nine horses “after state agricultural officials conducted a search warrant at St. Francis and found conditions that were detrimental to the animals’ health.” State and local police responded to continuing complaints by securing a second search warrant and “discovered the remaining horses were receiving inadequate care.” Beck was charged with four counts of cruelty to animals.

February 2019/New Bloomfield, Missouri: KRCGTV.com reported that residents had staged a protest to bring attention to what they said were inhumane conditions at a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Callaway Hills Animal Shelter. A former volunteer of nine years at the facility said that “the animals lacked human interaction and socialization.” “Many of them rarely left their cages,” she said. “They would spend their whole lives in a cage.” Another protester said that “the shelter is overpopulated with dogs.” “The real thing that brought us out were the frigid temperatures,” she said. “[I]t took an outside concerned citizen to bring hay or straw in to help prepare them for that.” The owner of the shelter reportedly refused to allow the news crew to film conditions at the property.

February 2019/Rising Sun, Maryland: CecilDaily.com reported that authorities had seized 34 cats, 26 dogs, two turtles, and a raccoon from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Eden Rehab and Rescue. According to county officials, the animals had reportedly been found at two locations, “living in ‘deplorable conditions,’” including “limited access to fresh water, unkept litter boxes, strong ammonia fumes, and kennels saturated in feces and urine.” The article stated that “[m]any of the animals were found to be emaciated and suffering from hair loss and open sores on their bodies.” A spokesperson for Cecil County Animal Services said, “These animals were in grave need of care. We are anxious to rehabilitate these innocent victims and are committed to protecting them from any future suffering at the hands of a rescue organization that failed them.” The investigation was ongoing, but officials said that “charges of animal neglect are pending against” the founder of the organization, Crystal Romine.

February 2019/Scappoose, Oregon: KOIN.com reported that the Oregon Department of Justice was seeking the dissolution of two self-professed animal “rescue” groups “for breach of fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment.” State investigators alleged that that the operators of All Terrier Rescue Hunters Crossing, Inc. (ATR), and Rescue Strong Oregon —Samantha Miller and her mother, Jeri Miller—“used adoption fees for personal use, provided false information on state records, and failed to report millions in revenue to the IRS, while misleading adopters.” ATR reportedly “never had a kennel license in Columbia County and rarely complied with record keeping or regulatory requirements.” According to the complaint, “Based on its published reports of its activities, ATR has generated over $7 million in revenue since 1999, but has reported a little over $1 million in revenue in its annual financial reports to the DOJ.” The article states that “[r]ecords show ATR and Rescue Strong agents misrepresent themselves as licensed animal behavior experts or veterinarians and misstate the condition and medical history of the dogs they adopt out.”

January 2019/Nashville, Tennessee: WKRN.com reported that “an estimated 20 animals, both personal and foster” had died in a fire at the home of a member of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Nashville Cat Rescue. Fire officials reportedly “believe the fire started near a space heater.” The homeowner said that she also “[h]ad a kerosene heater and a five-gallon jug of kerosene on the porch, and it just exploded like a bomb.” She said all animals at the home had died.

January 2019/Ocala, Florida: RunnersWorld.com reported that a resident had found a homeless dog along an isolated running trail. She took the animal to a local “humane society” and was told that her owner had been there five or six hours earlier trying to surrender her. Workers speculated that she had then been abandoned on the trail. The woman called another shelter and was told that it was “overflowing” and couldn’t take the dog, who wasn’t spayed. The resident kept her, even though she hadn’t been looking to adopt a dog.

January 2019/Phoenix, Arizona: AZFamily.com reported that a pit bull—who had been confined at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter for approximately one month, was up for adoption, and had “passed all their behavioral testing”—had attacked and badly injured a shelter supervisor. The worker “was bitten on her hand, ankle, side, and thigh,” and another employee had to intervene “to get the dog off of her.” She required surgery, and the dog was reportedly scheduled to be euthanized.

January 2019/El Paso, Texas: KFOXTV.com reported that four dogs had died during extremely low temperatures after they had been moved to outdoor kennels and a barn built by the city’s Animal Services shelter in an attempt to “save more lives.” Records reportedly showed that one dog had been so sick that he or she had been scheduled for euthanasia but that the director had “held off to see if the medicine the dog was on would take its course.” The shelter director said that in the facility’s “goal of becoming no-kill, [it’s] providing care longer than ever before.” Evidence was apparently not gathered to determine how the other three dogs had died.

January 2019/Mesa, Arizona: AZFamily.com reported that authorities had seized “12 live dogs and five live cats, all in various health conditions and needing treatment,” from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Tiggy Town Rescue. Investigators also reportedly “found two animal skulls in a bedroom and the skeletal remains of a dog on the living room couch. In addition, six dead dogs were found in a kitchen trash can.” Conditions at the “rescue” were described as “extremely unsanitary,” and the building was condemned by authorities. The owner of the “rescue,” Theresa Deanne Finneren, was facing “27 charges, which include animal cruelty, neglect and intentional cruel mistreatment.” She reportedly told authorities that the dead animals had “died from different causes” and that “a couple of them had died from fighting.” ABC15.com reported that “Finneren reportedly told police that she put the dead dogs in the trash can, but ‘other dogs got into the trash can (and) must have eaten them.’” The stench from the property could reportedly be smelled from the sidewalk.

January 2019/Orange County, California: VoiceOfOC.org published a column alleging that the publicly funded OC Animal Care shelter had been turning away animals in a bid to increase its adoption statistics. The writer, the founder of a local self-professed animal “rescue” group, said that her group had “received an alarming number of text messages and emails from OC Residents that went to OC Animal Care to surrender their animals recently and were told by OC Animal Care they were not currently accepting owner surrenders.” She claimed that the “new shelter Director Mike Kaviani is attempting to implement … managed intake, where OC Animal Care will schedule all owner surrenders on a wait list.”

January 2019/Titusville, Florida: WFTV.com reported that authorities had seized three starving horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Horse Sisters and Associates, Inc. One of the animals had to be euthanized, and one was in such bad shape that he or she was unable to stand. A veterinarian who examined the two surviving horses reportedly “determined that the horses were suffering from extreme starvation, the worst case she had ever encountered.” “Rescue” owner Clairese Marie Austin was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals.

January 2019/West Chicago, Illinois: Chicago.SunTimes.com reported that “at least 31 dogs” died in a fire at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as The Bully Life Animal Services. According to Carol Stream Fire District Chief Robert Hoff, many dogs were confined to cages. “Some were tied up, and [it was] just a very, very sad scene,” he said. Three firefighters reportedly had to be “treated for dog bites; two suffered puncture wounds to the hands[;] and another was bitten on the lip.” Hoff also said, “The dogs were fighting each other trying to bite the firemen.” The building, which had reportedly been housing more than “50 pit-bulls along with other breeds,” was “deemed uninhabitable and boarded up.” Twenty-three dogs who were rescued alive were suffering from “a variety of injuries, mostly burns, cuts and bites.” Six dogs escaped. All but one had been found by nightfall.

January 2019/Georgetown, Delaware: SussexCountian.com reported that 22 cats had been left behind a companion-animal supply store. “A mother cat and her four kittens … were found in a cardboard box. Seventeen adult felines of varying ages were found in a wire crate.” The article noted, “Cat lovers often resort to desperate measures in Delaware, where cats are not afforded the same protections as dogs. According to [the] state’s Animal Services website, only dogs are provided for in animal control contracts with the counties.” A note had reportedly been taped to the store’s front door that read, “Out back is all the babies I can’t find homes for and I have run out of time. I couldn’t just let them go on the street.” A store employee was reportedly working with adoption groups to find homes for the cats.

January 2019/Highlands County, Florida: BayNews9.com reported that authorities had seized 42 dogs, six cats, and a bird from an abandoned home where they had been hoarded by a volunteer with a self-professed animal “rescue” group doing business as Hardee Animal Rescue Team. Twenty-three dead animals were also found at the home, some “in such advanced states of decomposition that it’s been difficult to determine whether they were cats or dogs.” Some of the animals were reportedly found “in crates stacked three-high in the house’s living room. Others were roaming free in the house, which had no running water,” according to authorities. The volunteer, Jinece Elizabeth Loughry, was charged with 72 counts of cruelty to animals.

December 2018/Jarrell, Texas: KXXV.com reported that an investigation had revealed “deplorable conditions” at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Midnight’s Journey, Inc. Authorities asked and the “rescue” owner agreed to surrender 19 dogs found at the property, who “were taken for proper care.” Four warrants alleging cruelty to animals were issued, and the owner reportedly turned herself in.

December 2018/Guilford County, North Carolina: MyFOX8.com reported that since a publicly funded animal shelter doing business as Guilford County Animal Services had implemented a “managed intake” policy, a local adoption group had experienced “a major increase in the number of surrendered animals.” “Our intake has been quadrupled than in previous years so the needs have just exceeded the structure we have,” said a spokesperson. Many residents who surrendered animals to the group reportedly “said they could not wait to make an appointment with Guilford County Animal Services.” According to representatives of two area adoption groups, animal abandonment had also increased.

December 2018/Pomona, New York: LoHud.com reported that a nonprofit group doing business as Hi Tor Animal Care Center, which had a contract to provide Rockland County residents with animal-sheltering services, had apparently been turning away cats and had confined some “for years” at a building described as “small, disjointed and dilapidated.” It was reported that “[s]oaring cases of ringworm make dealing with perpetual cat overcrowding even more complex.”

December 2018/Pittsylvania County, Virginia: GoDanRiver.com reported that state authorities had notified a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Pittsylvania Pet Center that it “could be subjected to fines of up to $65,250 unless the state office chooses to dismiss the civil penalties.” The fines were in relation to animal deaths and poor conditions during the time when the center was being operated by a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as the Lynchburg Humane Society. There were “four violations—one termed by the state as non-critical and three as critical—[that] revolved around reports of designated dog isolation rooms misused, instances of unsafe animal housing, failure to follow veterinary protocol and failing to provide adequate feed and veterinary care.” According to inspection reports, a cat had died alone in a windowless room at the facility that “was cluttered with equipment and miscellaneous items.” A report described a kitten named Dusk whom inspectors found starving. He reportedly “arrived at the pet center without eyes in July [and] was weighed once when [he] arrived and then another time nearly three weeks later. . . . During the Aug. 20 inspection, an office of animal care and emergency response veterinarian examined Dusk, found he was only 1 pound and gave him a body score of 2 out of 9, with a higher score meaning a better condition. The veterinarian [then] advised the shelter manager to ‘promptly obtain veterinary care for [Dusk],’ according to the report.” Another kitten named Voyd “entered the shelter on June 19 and died on July 15 [and] was recorded with an initial weight of 10 ounces. The report stated that shelter staff told the inspector that the kitten wasn’t examined by a veterinarian during [his or her] time at the center, and there weren’t records to show that the kitten had been monitored daily.” After Voyd died, an examination of his or her body “indicated the kitten weighed 7 ounces, according to the state’s report.” Healthy dogs were reportedly found “stored in a designated isolation room meant to separate the sick from healthy.” The state oversight agency “said it will send a second notice of its final decision regarding the violations recorded on Aug. 20.” A timeline wasn’t available.

December 2018/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that authorities had seized 23 dogs and 22 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Az Dog Adoptions after “[i]nvestigators determined many of the dogs and cats had not received medical treatment and were not being cared for.” Dogs were found suffering from apparently untreated medical conditions, including “dental disease, suspected mange, and ringworm,” and cats showed symptoms of untreated respiratory infections, including discharge draining from their eyes. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges would be pursued.

December 2018/Jefferson, Texas: KSLA.com reported that authorities were investigating allegations of poor conditions and dead animals found at a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Marion County Humane Society. Brooke LaFleur, the president of the group’s board, reportedly “said a woman named Caroline Wedding lived on the isolated grounds at the humane society and was responsible for caring for the dogs. However, LaFleur said Wedding was not transparent about the conditions at the humane society; LaFleur added she had no knowledge of the dead dogs.” LaFleur claimed that board members “were shocked” and “had no idea” about the conditions. Volunteers who reportedly spoke to reporters said they’d found “the humane society in bad shape, with multiple dogs living in a single cage—all of which are outside during winter months—feces scattered across the ground, and a lack of water and food.” One of them reported that approximately 40 dogs remained at the property, some suffering from “extreme diarrhea.”

December 2018/Newport, Tennessee: KnoxNews.com reported that authorities had arrested Terry Starnes, the director of a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as the Friends Animal Shelter, on charges of cruelty to animals. The arrest was made after authorities received a complaint about a dog named Kylar who was approximately 40 pounds underweight when he was found and removed from the facility. The woman who filed the complaint reportedly said, “I’ve never seen a dog that close to death and not dead.” An investigation conducted in December revealed that “Kylar had been adopted in March but was returned to the shelter 11 days later. The shelter’s vetting sheet said the dog had received medical treatment … but the shelter’s manager could not say where Kylar was treated. He also was unable to produce any medical records, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.” The news release reportedly said that “[d]eputies visited the shelter … and reported some areas were in ‘poor condition’ and ‘in need of cleaning.… ‘Officers did observe dogs underweight and in poor condition.’” The director was fired, but the president of the group’s board reportedly defended him. She said that he “did the best he could with the resources that were available” and that “the nonprofit runs a no-kill operation—the shelter previously euthanized animals—and often houses more than twice the number of animals it should.” She went on to say, “We couldn’t hire as many people as should have been hired.… [W]e really couldn’t even afford as much veterinary care as would be ideal.” After he was removed from the facility, Kylar received treatment and was gaining weight.

December 2018/Tampa, Florida: ABCActionNews.com reported that four days after he was adopted from a taxpayer-funded animal shelter doing business as the Pet Resource Center, which has been trying to operate as a “no-kill shelter,” a dog mauled another dog. The dog who was attacked reportedly sustained “a large gash that required a dozen stitches.” When the adopter returned the dog to the facility, he learned that before he adopted the dog, he or she had been “adopted and returned three times for aggression towards wildlife and other dogs and in two cases, he knocked a person to the ground,” information that the adopter alleged had been withheld from him. The facility said that it had since implemented a new policy requiring adopters to “initial [a form] to confirm they’ve been given information about the dog’s medical and behavior history.”

December 2018/Selma, California: KMPH.com reported that after they were turned away from a nonprofit adoption group doing business as Second Chance Animal Shelter, two people who had wanted to surrender a dog were seen on surveillance video abandoning the animal in the parking lot and driving away. The dog was then “seen running around frantically in traffic.” The facility admitted him after the incident.

November 2018/Lafayette, Indiana: JCOnline.com reported that a cat who had apparently been left behind when his or her owners moved had been captured in a live trap and pushed into a pond, where the animal drowned. The incident had been videotaped and posted on social media by a teenager who commenters said was paid by the manager of a mobile home park to “get rid of animals left behind when tenants move out.” Another commenter said that “shelters rarely take the animals.” Authorities were investigating.

November 2018/Calgary, Alberta: CalgaryHerald.com reported that a resident had told staff at a turn-away facility doing business as Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society that he’d found 15 cats, “many suffering from respiratory issues,” in two plastic bins duct-taped shut and abandoned along a highway. After the facility accepted the animals, he later admitted that they “belonged to a family member who was unable to properly care for them” and that he’d been unable to find an animal shelter willing to accept them. A spokesperson for the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that “it’s fairly common for someone who is trying to surrender animals to be told that the agency they’ve approached simply doesn’t have the room” and that most area shelters and adoption groups were full. The cats were receiving treatment.

November 2018/Killingly, Connecticut: Courant.com reported that representatives of two area nonprofit groups had alleged that a publicly funded animal shelter doing business as Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG) Animal Services, which states on its website that it has “not had to euthanize any animal due to a lack of space,” routinely turns away cats. One of the representatives said, “They tell us, ‘We’re full. We have no room.’” A former NECCOG employee had reportedly filed a written complaint about conditions at the facility, including the denial of medical care to a badly injured cat who was allegedly “picked up and left in a cage overnight. She found [the animal] in the morning … meowing, lying immobile with [his or her] head in a food dish.” Killingly Town Council members were reportedly asked to launch an investigation into the allegations.

November 2018/Las Vegas, Nevada: KTNV.com reported that former volunteers at a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had alleged that conditions and practices at the facility were dangerous and resulted in animal suffering. Allegations included a “leaking roof, sewage hoses running through kennels, and a mauling so severe a woman nearly lost her foot.” The dog involved in that mauling had been advertised for adoption on the same day as the attack. Some dogs had reportedly been languishing at the facility for years. Two former volunteers said that “when they were there, they saw dogs standing in sewage, their paws covered in feces.” Authorities had reportedly compiled a “long history of problems” at the facility. As far back as 2014, “records show overcrowded dog runs, uncomfortably hot temperatures,” and other issues. Records that year reportedly revealed that “a dog [who] was recovering from sedation after surgery [was] being walked on by other dogs in the cage.” County records and photographs from January 2018 “confirmed that kennels were flooded and that the roof was in disrepair.” A spokesperson at the facility reportedly said that “they are doing the best they can as a no-kill shelter.”

November 2018/Fairfield, Connecticut: Connecticut.News12.com reported that authorities had found the remains of five dead dogs locked inside wire crates at the home of a woman who was “involved with an animal rescue agency.” The dogs reportedly “appeared to be neglected and left to die inside their crates.” Cruelty-to-animals charges were expected to be filed. It was later reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Bully Breed Rescue, Inc., said that “it was the organization’s president who was supposed to be taking care of the five dogs.” Authorities reportedly confirmed that they were interviewing representatives of the group “as part of this investigation.”

November 2018/Elsberry, Missouri: STLToday.com reported that authorities had seized 80 cats and 29 dogs from the property of a self-professed animal “rescue” group. Most of the cats had reportedly been found “crowded into a three-room apartment reeking of urine and visible feces .… Many of them ha[d] matted or very thin coats; eye, ear and upper respiratory infections; and flea infestations. Many of the dogs were housed in indoor/outdoor kennels and those found inside the living area ha[d] hair loss, visible tumors and very long nails,” according to information provided by the Humane Society of Missouri. A humane society news release reportedly said, “In recent years, the owner had been licensed as an animal rescue facility. … Due to numerous unresolved citations, earlier this year the license was not renewed and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit alleging violations of Missouri’s Animal Care and Facilities Act.” (See the June 2018/Jefferson City, Missouri, entry below.) A court date was set to determine permanent custody of the animals.

November 2018/Sams Valley, Oregon: KTVL.com reported that more than 36 cats at four locations where a group doing business as Wild Whiskers Animal Rescue had been trapping, sterilizing, and reabandoning homeless cats had died from “panleukopenia, also known as cat parvo or feline distemper.” Painful symptoms of the fatal disease include diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures.

November 2018/Harris County, Texas: CommunityImpact.com reported that since the Harris County Animal Shelter had “implemented initiatives in recent years to reach ‘no-kill’ status,” the facility was chronically severely crowded. The shelter director reportedly said, “We have four or five dogs in [some of our] runs, which to me is totally unacceptable.” The county was constructing a new $24 million shelter in an attempt to address crowding. A self-professed “no-kill” adoption group in the area doing business as The Kitten House Rescue of Houston, LLC, was also severely crowded, reportedly “over capacity by 50 percent.” Its managing director said that it turns away “50–100 cats/kittens each day, on average.”

November 2018/Kittanning, Pennsylvania: TribLive.com reported that 17 cats had been left in covered plastic tubs outside a turn-away facility doing business as Orphans of the Storm. The facility’s manager reportedly said that the “shelter is inundated with cats at this time of year and does not have room for more.” The group was looking for other facilities and foster homes for the cats.

November 2018/Boardman, Ohio: WKBN.com reported that a pit bull adopted just days before from the Mahoning County Dog Pound had been shot after attacking a child in the kitchen of the adopter’s home. The child’s father shot the animal once. Authorities were called and found the dog “still alive and walking around in the backyard of the house, badly bleeding.” He or she had to be euthanized because of the extent of the injuries.

November 2018/Griffith, Indiana: NWITimes.com reported that authorities had seized 47 cats and six dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Bella’s House Animal Rescue after they “were found in a urine- and feces-filled home.” The animals were “found with limited to no food or water, police said, some confined in cages and others roaming free” in an “unoccupied home” and garage. The floors were reportedly covered with urine and feces, and the only heat available was an electric oven that was on and open at the time of the raid. First responders had “to wear protective clothing and face masks ‘to operate in the deplorable conditions,’” and the home was declared “unfit for human habitation.” “Rescue” owner Deborah Gizynski was charged with animal abandonment and neglect.

November 2018/Martin County, Kentucky: WSAZ.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as Stray Hearts Animal Rescue/Martin County Shelter had reported that a kitten had been found dead after being left in a cardboard box outside the facility in below-freezing temperatures. A spokesperson reportedly said that “dogs and cats are being left outside their doors at all hours of the night in the bitter cold,” that the facility was “overcrowded,” and that “people are constantly dropping off animals in the middle of the night.”

November 2018/Bethesda, Maryland: Philanthropy.com reported that a nonprofit organization doing business as Alley Cat Allies, which promotes the abandonment of domestic cats, had been involved in “a number of questionable” financial practices. The piece said that this organization “offers a case study in what can happen when there’s a lack of government or institutional oversight.” The group’s founder and president, Becky Robinson, was reportedly “paid $265,309 in total compensation for the fiscal year that ended on July 31, 2017, while [Donna] Wilcox, the board chair and vice president, was paid $230,556 in salary and benefits. Together, their compensation amounts to more than 5 percent of the group’s revenue. The board sets the CEO’s pay, yet the board chair works for the CEO.” In 2015, after a neighbor complained about an outdoor horde of cats at Robinson’s home, “Alley Cat Allies bought the neighbor’s home for $590,000. Last summer, the charity bought a second home in Arlington for $569,000. Neither transaction was disclosed to the full board of the nonprofit.” In addition, the “board rarely meets—it has yet to convene in 2018.”

 November 2018/Marion County, Florida: WCJB.com reported that two cats had been left in a carrier at the gate of a turn-away facility doing business as the SPCA of Ocala. The president of the group, which only accepts animals if it has room, reportedly said “that the overall push to no-kill has organizations close to capacity and that people abandoning animals is a growing problem.”

 November 2018/Buda, Texas: Statesman.com reported that authorities had seized 161 cats and 15 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue.” They were found after authorities responded to a “call about inhumane animal care” and were removed “for welfare concerns.” ExpressNews.com later reported that owner Melissa Caffey had been arrested and charged with 10 counts of cruelty to animals and two counts of child endangerment. A sheriff’s office news release reportedly said that investigators had “found dozens of cats and several dogs living in ‘brutal conditions.’ Four cats were found dead and several others are seriously ill.”

October 2018/Spring, Texas: YourConroeNews.com reported that authorities had seized 231 cats from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Faye and Dave’s Cat Sanctuary. Officials testified at a custody hearing, reportedly revealing that they had “found the house to be in a bleak condition.” They said that “[u]pon their arrival after repeated complaints from neighbors, they found cats suffering from upper respiratory infections, skin conditions, emaciation, fleas and diarrhea. One unresponsive cat found on the property was later euthanized.” The court reportedly ordered owners Faye and David Spencer to surrender ownership of the animals and pay “more than $52,000 in court fees and veterinary bills.” It wasn’t reported whether cruelty-to-animals charges were being considered.

October 2018/Edmonton, Alberta: TheGlobeandMail.com reported that authorities had charged the city of Edmonton and four of its employees with violations of the province’s Animal Protection Act in connection with the deaths of three cats in the city’s custody. The Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had undertaken an investigation “after receiving a public complaint that three cats in the care of the city had suffered distress and died.” They had reportedly “been transported between city facilities as part of a pilot project to provide homes for feral cats, but three of the cats died within a day of being moved.” A court date was set.

October 2018/Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania: LehighValleyLive.com reported that authorities had found “more than 20 cats and dogs [who] were forced to live in a feces-smeared, flea infested home” at a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Heaven on Earth Farm. Earlier in the year, “sanctuary” owner Jahjah Melhem had reportedly pleaded no contest to 31 counts of cruelty to animals “for failing to feed and care for some” of the approximately 300 animals in his custody (see the December 2017/Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, entry below) and “agreed to get rid of about 200 of the horses, goats, alpacas, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats he owned.” During a recent inspection of the property, authorities said that they had found “nine cats and 16 dogs living in horrible conditions.” When they returned to the property with a warrant to seize the animals, the dogs were gone and Melham said that he’d “sent eight of the 16 dogs to a foster service via a friend.” An officer tracked down four of them, “and two still had significantly matted fur.” In addition, “[a]ll four of them need[ed] veterinary attention.” The other dogs were being sought. The “sanctuary” property’s lease had reportedly lapsed and wasn’t being renewed, and authorities intended to file cruelty-to-animals charges in the recent case.

October 2018/Bakersfield, California: KGET.com reported that investigators with the State of California Franchise Tax Board alleged that Diana Roman and her mother had created a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Oliver Rescue Mission to “get a tax break on hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Roman had reportedly claimed that she donated nearly $700,000 to the “rescue.” However, “[i]nvestigators said no dogs ever were rescued or rehomed by Roman’s non-existent organization. Instead, investigators said Roman spent the money on her mother’s personal expenses.” She was scheduled to appear in court.

October 2018/Morgantown, West Virginia: Newsweek.com reported that one of nine cats who were being fostered at a home for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Appalachian Peace Paws Rescue, Inc., had been “strangled and injured.” A suspect was charged with cruelty to animals after he reportedly called authorities to report what he’d done. The animal control and police departments were removing and caring for the animals.

October 2018/Greenback, Tennessee: KnoxNews.com reported that two dogs had been shot to death at the property of a self-professed animal “rescuer.” They were two of 64 dogs “rescuer” Tony Alsup had removed from evacuated areas after a hurricane. They had reportedly been handed over to him by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown, South Carolina, whose executive director reportedly said, “I didn’t have a good gut feeling about (Alsup), but I made the call to send the dogs with him.” A sheriff’s department incident report allegedly said that two of the dogs “were shot by a neighbor and one was injured during a dog fight within the small cage they were staying in” at Alsup’s property in Tennessee. The injured dog “required a two-hour surgery” and was expected to survive.

October 2018/Douglas, Wyoming: Caller.com reported that two dogs had died and another had sustained a broken toe after a van transporting 52 dogs from animal shelters in Corpus Christi, Texas, to adoption groups in Washington was totaled in a crash. The van belonged to a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Faith and Hope Foundation, Inc. After the accident, “many of the dogs in the van got loose” but were apparently eventually located.

October 2018/Lake Butler, Florida: Gainesville.com reported that authorities had seized 54 horses from a self-professed animal “rescue,” where they were found without adequate food or “proper living conditions.” Two of them died at the property, and one was in such bad shape that he or she had to be euthanized. A sheriff’s department spokesperson reportedly said, “The horses all seemed to suffer from some form of neglect. Some were mildly neglected, while others were in critical condition.” He also said, “Arrests are forthcoming …. I can guarantee you that.”

October 2018/Asheville, North Carolina: WFMYNews2.com reported that a cat who had been adopted from a self-professed “no-kill” adoption group doing business as Brother Wolf Animal Rescue had been found dead and mutilated on the property of a grocery store. Authorities had reportedly been “alerted to social media images showing the dead cat strung up and sliced open, posed with needles in [his or her] body and drugs in [his or her] mouth.” The adopters had apparently allowed the cat to roam outdoors without supervision, and a microchip traced back to the group. Two suspects were arrested and “charged with misdemeanors for ‘improper burial of an animal,’” and a third was being sought in connection with the case. A necropsy was reportedly scheduled to determine the cause of the cat’s death.

October 2018/Camden, Ohio: FOX19.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” had been diagnosed with dementia. Family members found 44 cats and six dogs in her home, including animals with untreated medical conditions. A spokesperson for an adoption group that took some of the animals from the home said that some cats were “missing skin” because of a severe flea infestation, suffered from upper respiratory infections, and had inner ear infections.

October 2018/Houma, Louisiana: DailyComet.com reported that two dogs and a cat died in a fire at a home where they had been hoarded by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Rescue Revolution. Approximately seven more animals were “unaccounted for.” The “rescue” owner said a dog who had escaped the blaze had been seen “running near Wal-Mart.” Authorities reportedly said that the house was “filled with homeless cats and dogs,” and they were investigating the cause of the fire.

October 2018/San Antonio, Texas: KSAT.com reported that a man tried to turn in two puppies he said he’d found to a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as San Antonio Pets Alive! but was turned away and allegedly directed to a public shelter. Hours later, the dogs were found “in a trash dumpster behind a grocery store . . . about 100 yards away.” They were “covered in fleas, had ringworms, tested positive for worms and one had parvovirus.” The group then took in the puppies and called authorities. The dogs were reportedly being treated.

October 2018/Stanton, Michigan: FOX17Online.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as the Humane Society of Mid Michigan “has a wait list 70 people long, all hoping to surrender cats or kittens before winter hits.” There were reportedly 142 at-risk cats on the list. A spokesperson for the group said that because of its turn-away policy, “[w]e end up with a lot of angry phone calls, from people who are upset.” 

October 2018/Lebanon County, Pennsylvania: LDNews.com reported that former employees and volunteers at a turn-away facility doing business as the Humane Society of Lebanon County “claim[ed] the organization has been adopting out animals that are dangerous and at-risk for contagious diseases.” They cited “a philosophy among Humane Society board members that all animals should be saved and eventually adopted, regardless of their health or temperament,” and one former kennel worker said that the “shelter is so full of unadoptable dogs that nobody can walk.” A dog named Amaru had reportedly been adopted out despite being “so aggressive that she was kept away from other dogs and only trained dog walkers were allowed near her.” In addition, “[s]everal times in the past year, dogs were adopted, bit their new owners, were returned to the shelter, and then were again put on the adoption floor.” Other allegations included housing a dog suffering from parvovirus in a men’s bathroom, failing to alert foster caregivers of a panleukopenia outbreak among the cat population, and severe crowding.

October 2018/Drew County, Arkansas: KARK.com reported that authorities had found 500 plastic storage tubs containing dead dogs behind the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer.” They also seized 43 live dogs from the property, where “dog feces [were] everywhere inside and outside the home.” A neighbor said that some of the dogs had come onto her property earlier in the year and killed her small dog. Criminal charges were reportedly not being pursued against the “rescuer.” MonticelloLive.com reported that 39 of the dogs who were found alive at the property were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. New homes were reportedly found for five surviving dogs, and “10 animals escaped, 2 of which reportedly killed a neighbors [sic] dog and attacked a groundskeeper mowing a nearby cemetery.” Gruesome photos of the tubs that contained decomposing dogs’ bodies and live dogs suffering from severe medical conditions were included in the news report.

October 2018/Clearwater, Florida: FOX13News.com reported that a 7-month-old child had been attacked and killed by a pit bull mix who had been adopted from Pinellas County Animal Services the previous March. A spokesperson for the facility said that the dog had been evaluated and “never showed signs of violence.”

October 2018/Seven Hills, Ohio: News5Cleveland.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Lucky’s Angels Cat Rescue after they were found hoarded in a home. The owner reportedly “said he has three floors in his house and anywhere from 40 to 60 cats can be found on each floor.” Authorities “said they had received a lot of calls about the cat rescue and that the situation was bad.” Cleveland.com later reported that authorities had seized 131 cats “as well as the bodies of other dead cats and kittens.” One of the cats seized was reportedly so sick from cancer that he died. The “rescue” owner filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the surviving cats from being adopted.

October 2018/Cincinnati, Ohio: FOX19.com reported that a man had entered a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as The Ohio Pet Sanctuary through a back door and left a litter box containing five guinea pigs. The animals were reportedly underweight and standing in filth. The group’s owner said that “there is a waiting list to take in guinea pigs” and called authorities.

October 2018/Las Vegas, Nevada: ReviewJournal.com reported that “a few days” after a couple adopted a pit bull mix from The Animal Foundation, the city’s public animal shelter, he fatally mauled one of his new owners. The victim’s husband reportedly came home from work and found his wife “dead in their living room, according to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Clark County coroner’s office.” The dog was removed from the home and euthanized at the family’s request.

October 2018/Mesa, Arizona: ElPasoTimes.com reported that authorities had seized more than 50 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Shelter Paws. Many were found “emaciated and appeared neglected,” and one dog was in such bad shape that he or she died at the veterinary hospital where the animal had been taken for emergency care. ABC15.com reported that a sergeant with the sheriff’s department said, “There was feces all over the place; there were some dogs that were very malnourished.” Cruelty-to-animals charges were being considered, pending the outcome of the investigation. Just months earlier, the outlet reported that “rescue” owner Domenic Anthony had “adopted dozens of dogs from the county that were about to be put down” and that he was “saving dogs from Maricopa County’s death row.”

October 2018/Baltimore County, Maryland: BaltimoreSun.com reported that “Baltimore County’s Animal Services Advisory Commission ha[d] released a scathing report criticizing the county’s Animal Services department and calling for an independent investigation into its practices.” In testimony to the county council, the commission’s chair reportedly said, “It appears Baltimore County Animal Services management has become so numbers-focused, both on live release numbers and [trap-neuter-return] numbers, that it is going down a path leading away from real animal welfare.” The report alleged that cats were being dumped in a trap-neuter-reabandonment program by the department “too far from where they were trapped, return[ed] too soon after surgery and not provid[ed] care for other medical needs.” The report was also critical of a policy that “requires complainants to sign and notarize an affidavit” before the agency would investigate cruelty-to-animals allegations and cited the case of a dog named Oscar who died the previous winter when he was left outside in subfreezing temperatures despite “more than a dozen” calls to authorities before his death.

October 2018/Ravenna, Ohio: Record-Courier.com reported that “more than 70 strays and owner surrenders” were on a waiting list at a turn-away adoption group doing business as Portage Animal Protective League, because the facility was full. A mother cat and five kittens had reportedly recently been found “in a tote in a dumpster outside of a drug store,” an unwanted dog had allegedly been shot by her owners, and a spokesperson for the group said that it sees “a lot of kittens and cats with respiratory infections, hit by cars, attacked by other animals, abscess[ed] wounds, [and] amputations.”

September 2018/Morganton, North Carolina: Morganton.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Friends for Animals the Humane Society of Burke County had been fined $7,000 for multiple violations of the state’s animal-protection laws. According to the report, “The inspection fail is just the latest trouble for the organization. Its long-time assistant director Teddi Stamey was fired in January after she was charged with two felony counts of trafficking methamphetamine.” In a later report, additional details were revealed about violations found by inspectors with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, including animals who were denied medical care and even comfort. A puppy was reportedly found “attempting to vomit and another puppy, a littermate, [was found] in distress.” State inspectors reported, “Even though the staff acknowledged that they knew the puppy in distress was severely ill earlier, they made no attempts to provide veterinary care or arrange for euthanasia until directed to do so by the inspector.” The report stated, “The shelter staff was evasive in their responses to (the inspector’s) question about the shelter protocol when a young animal was found in distress. The most specific and repeated answer to the question was that they ‘wanted to see which animals would make it.’” The group had reportedly acquired some animals from the Burke County Animal Shelter, including a dog with puppies for whom adequate paperwork wasn’t available. According to the inspection report, the shelter director “reiterated that the shelter does not record the intake of young animals until they see if they are healthy enough to survive.” The report explained, “Consequently, it is not possible to ascertain the intake or disposition of the young animals …. Therefore, it is not possible to verify how many animals have died in the care of this shelter based on their animal records.”

September 2018/Adams County, Ohio: Maysville-Online.com reported that of five kittens who had been left in a plastic tub in the rain outside a turn-away facility doing business as the Humane Society of Adams County Inc., two had drowned and a third required emergency resuscitation. All three surviving kittens were suffering from serious upper respiratory infections and were reportedly receiving treatment. A spokesperson for the group said that the facility was full and “cannot accept more animals when it does not have space.”

September 2018/Marion, Iowa: TheGazette.com reported that a man had been cited for cruelty to animals after he admitted to authorities that he’d abused a dog who’d been given to him to foster by a self-professed “animal rescue” doing business as Last Hope Animal Rescue. He reportedly “admitted to intentionally kicking the dog, causing internal bleeding and head trauma.” According to a spokesperson for the “rescue,” the group was alerted to the incident and found the dog, named Tilly, badly injured: “She was bleeding internally, and she had head trauma .… The dog couldn’t even stand up she’d been hurt so badly.” She was taken to a veterinary hospital, where her ruptured spleen was removed and she underwent multiple blood transfusions. Tilly had reportedly been imported by the “rescue” three years earlier from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business in Arkansas. At that time, she’d suffered from heartworm disease and other medical conditions. She was expected to survive the attack, but it wasn’t known what long-term damage she’d sustained.

September 2018/Fort Collins, Colorado: Coloradoan.com reported that a man had been arrested and was “facing a class 6 felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals” for allegedly “abusing and killing a cat.” He reportedly told authorities that he’d adopted the animal from the Larimer Humane Society three days before “he threw the cat against the wall after [the animal] bit him, and ‘in a fit of rage,’ he put a towel over the cat and stabbed [him or her], after which he hid [the body] in his closet.” His roommate reportedly alerted authorities after hearing “strange cat noises coming from” the man’s room and later finding the animal’s body. According to the report, “Officers located a knife and towel as well as a bloody flathead screwdriver that they think was also used to torture the cat. Police and Animal Control officers also removed other animals from his room. Documents didn’t specify whether the animals were living.”

September 2018/Columbia, Maryland: FOXBaltimore.com reported that two weeks after a woman had adopted a pit bull from an animal shelter, the dog attacked and killed her. Her husband found her body in their backyard, “with the dog standing over her.” The animal was removed from the property and euthanized. The woman’s family said that the dog had been adopted from a shelter, where he or she had been scheduled to be euthanized.

September 2018/Falmouth, Kentucky: 13WHAM.com reported that authorities had seized 458 pot-bellied pigs from a woman who said that she’d “tried to start an animal rescue.” Before the raid, owner Lori Tristan had reportedly “pleaded for people to adopt the pigs.” Most of the animals were described as “pregnant, in distress and malnourished.” It wasn’t reported whether charges were being considered.

September 2018/Warren County, Ohio: Cincinnati.com reported that a dog named Evie who’d been placed in a prison program by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Joseph’s Legacy Rescue had been found dead in the cell of the inmate tasked with “training” her. A necropsy reportedly revealed that she had “died from blunt force trauma to her abdomen, causing her liver to hemorrhage .… The injury also caused damage to Evie’s kidney.” She had reportedly been found by the “rescue” in 2015 with “a broken hip from being hit by a car. She was also caring for her puppies when they found her …. Evie had surgery and was adopted by a family, but she was unfortunately returned.” Authorities were reportedly investigating, and the “rescue” said that it had “removed all dogs from the program.”

August 2018/Middletown, Ohio: Cincinnati.com reported that a man had been arrested on charges of cruelty to animals after authorities found dead animals at his home and he admitted to killing eight cats and kittens. A spokesperson for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as New Beginnings Animal Center said that the man had adopted a cat from the “rescue.” She said that he’d “reached out to her on Pet Finder … claiming he didn’t have any pets and needed a new companion for his family.” According to her, he adopted a 10-week-old cat named Evie from the “rescue” after filling out “a thorough adoption questionnaire.” She said, “I talked to him for an extended period of time …. He seemed totally normal. He said he had a wife and daughter at home that were really excited about the kitten coming.” The group planned to start conducting pre-adoption home interviews, the spokesperson said. WCPO.com reported that the suspect, Edmund Cunningham, told police that some of the cats he’d killed were found as strays and that he had stabbed at least one and drowned others.

August 2018/Farmington, Minnesota: FOX9.com reported that an animal shelter run by a nonprofit doing business as Animal Humane Society (AHS) had released “144 cats and one dog … from July 20, 2017 to February 23, 2018,” to a “rescue” whose operator was later arrested on felony cruelty-to-animals charges. Multiple charges were filed against Caycee Lynn Bregel “after more than 60 dead cats were found at a Farmington home several months ago.” (See the May 2018/Farmington, Minnesota, entry for details.) A cat whom “Bregel adopted from the AHS, lost 4.7 pounds while in Bregel’s care. Authorities completed necropsy exams on three of the cats. While their causes of death were undetermined, signs of possible starvation were present. The doctor found no food in the cats’ stomachs and intestinal tracts, which would take about one week to become completely empty.” Apparently in response to concerns, an AHS spokesperson reportedly said, “We could check on a foster today and they’re perfectly fine and tomorrow they break …. [W]e can’t withhold animals from everyone because we have a suspicion that there’s going to be a problem.”

August 2018/Augusta, Georgia: WFXG.com reported that authorities had seized 18 dogs, six of whom had already died, from a single-family home where a woman was operating a self-professed animal “rescue.” The “rescuer,” Stephanie Bowles, was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals. When authorities arrived at the property, they reportedly found one dog near death and unresponsive under a back porch and “multiple dogs lying on the floor of the home and around empty food/water bowls.” More dogs were found locked inside two bedrooms. Neighbors reportedly said that “the stench coming out of the home was so strong that one officer could not step inside for more than a few seconds.” One said that power at the property had been “shut off a little over a week” before the animals were found and that daily temperatures had exceeded 90 degrees.

August 2018/Jacksonville, Florida: Jacksonville.com reported that authorities had seized more than 50 cats and dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Neverland Animal Rescue, Inc. The animals were found hoarded in a single-family home, where the floors were “so covered in feces that ‘it is unsafe for humans and animals to breathe the toxic fumes.’” A responding police officer reportedly had to wear a facemask because “there was such a heavy ammonia smell inside.” Trash and feces covered the floors, and the family’s only bed was “littered with trash and feces everywhere,” according to the officer. The Florida Department of Children and Families removed a child from the home, and the “rescue” owners were charged with child neglect and cruelty to animals. 

August 2018/San Bernardino, California: SBSun.com reported that 17 cats, many of them ill, had been left outside the San Bernardino Animal Control shelter before it opened. A moving van had reportedly been seen driving up and leaving the cats, who were confined to cages and carriers. The shelter director reportedly said that “[p]eople often dump animals to avoid paying owner surrender fees …. The San Bernardino shelter charges owners $55 per animal surrendered.” Two cats were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. The others were apparently receiving treatment for upper respiratory infections and other conditions.

August 2018/Fort Smith, Arkansas: SWTimes.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as HOPE Humane Society was operating “at two times its capacity and growing. Dogs are being held in cages in rooms with cats and areas normally used for grooming and bathing.” Its executive director said, “We need about five more buildings, but it won’t matter because they’ll just keep coming.” The facility announced in July 2018 that it was turning away animals and had 130 people on a waiting list to surrender them. (See the July 2018/Fort Smith, Arkansas, entry below.)

August 2018/Torrance, California: DailyBreeze.com reported that a dog who was in foster care for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Ozzie and Friends Rescue had attacked and killed a dog named Kona who was on a walk with her guardian. The guardian said, “The pit bull was too fast …. He just got her in one bite. After that we tried to grab her but that’s when he started shaking her like a toy.” The fostered dog “would not let go of Kona, who was crying out,” according to witnesses. Another family member “punched the dog but [he] still would not let go.” A passerby reportedly “came over and choked the pit bull until [he] finally let the shih tzu go.” The “rescue” owner said that the dog had been trained before being placed in a foster home the day before the attack and that the group “plans to offer the dog for adoption again.” Kona was rushed to a veterinary hospital, where she underwent four hours of surgery before dying. Her family spent $8,600 on her medical bills.

August 2018/Taylorsville, Utah: KUTV.com reported that authorities had seized 100 dogs found hoarded in a single-family home by a woman who had previously told them that “she was working with rescue and foster organizations.” Some of the animals were in need of medical treatment, and conditions in the home were described as “horrendous, with dog waste and elevated gases including ammonia. Firefighters donned hazardous materials suits to go inside.” Criminal charges were reportedly being considered. DeseretNews.com reported that the home was condemned. The city attorney said that the couple living there “kind of fancied themselves as people who cared for stray animals, taking care of dogs. They kind of viewed themselves as humanitarians.”

August 2018/San Antonio, Texas: MySanAntonio.com reported that authorities had removed 26 dogs from a self-professed dog-training company doing business as Universal K9, which reportedly acquired dogs from animal shelters and claimed to train them for use by police departments. The company’s owner reportedly “agreed to surrender the animals because he didn’t think he would be able to continue caring for them because of the ongoing federal investigation” into the business. Dogs were found “living in ‘makeshift kennels’ created out of modified shipping containers,” according to the director of the city’s Animal Care Services. A nonprofit organization doing business as Animal Farm Foundation had reportedly obtained dogs from animal shelters and paid the company to train them, and the Petco Foundation had provided the company with grants. ExpressNews.com reported that the company’s principal operator, Bradley Croft, had “swindled about $1.26 million from the GI Bill program by fraudulently claiming his trainers were certified and using a dead man’s identity to further the scheme . . . . Croft has a lengthy criminal history, which includes shooting at people and other violence and a federal conviction in the late 1990s involving insurance fraud, for which he got five years of probation, court records show.” He was arrested on charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.

August 2018/Johnson City, Tennessee: JohnsonCityPress.com reported that the number of animals housed at the Washington County–Johnson City Animal Shelter was “at an all-time high, far exceeding the building’s capacity. Because no animal is ever euthanized for space, the rising costs associated with treating, feeding and housing all those animals has devastated the shelter’s financial status and caused all animal intakes to be halted for at least a week, possibly longer.” Animals were reportedly being housed two or three to a cage or kennel.

August 2018/Jersey City, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that when a resident had arrived at an animal shelter doing business as Liberty Humane Society with a cat who was dying of liver failure, workers locked the doors to prevent him from entering. The man threw a rock through the glass front doors of the facility and “threw a box containing the animal at a staff member before running off.” The cat was reportedly rushed to a veterinary hospital, where he or she was diagnosed with advanced liver failure and euthanized. The animal was also found to be “severely underweight” and was suspected to have suffered from a disease “for a very long time,” according to the facility’s executive director.

August 2018/Sacramento, California: Sacramento.CBSLocal.com reported that Sacramento County’s Bradshaw Animal Shelter wasn’t accepting lost or homeless cats. The facility’s cages were reportedly filled with 337 cats, many of whom were on a waiting list to be sterilized before they were to be abandoned throughout the community.

August 2018/Greeneville, Tennessee: WJHL.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal “shelter” doing business as Greeneville–Greene County Humane Society was turning away animals. The facility was reportedly “at capacity with animals and [could not] take in any more cats or dogs.”

August 2018/Deming, New Mexico: ABQJournal.com reported that authorities had charged an employee of a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Ruff Ruff Animal Sanctuary with 10 counts of cruelty to animals after 10 dogs allegedly died from neglect. Court documents alleged that the employee had contacted another man and asked “for help in dealing with … two carcasses. But in addition to the two dogs found in the trash, the man discovered the corpses of eight other dogs in kennels. The two men then buried the dogs.” Records in California showed that the owner of the business, Raymond Schmal, “pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges in Kern County in 2014, when 12 dogs and 40 cats were removed from his home due to inhumane conditions. Two dogs died en route to a veterinarian and two had to be euthanized, according to the criminal complaint.” Approximately 100 dogs remained at the Deming property while authorities proceeded with an investigation.

August 2018/Licking County, Ohio: NBC4i.com reported that authorities had charged the owners of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pittie Paw Rescue with one count each of animal abandonment and 22 counts each of cruelty to animals. The charges were filed against owners Joyce Meisenhelder and her daughter Kristin Beaupry after 23 cats, including nine newborn kittens, were found “abandoned in a run-down trailer.” The director of a local humane society said, “The trailer was filthy and filled with feces …. There was not edible food or water to drink.” The news story reported that “two cats were found dead. Another dozen cats plus nine kittens were in bad shape.” The humane society director said, “They were very flea infested, had open sores and scabs from the fleas, hair loss, eye infections, tape worms and were malnourished.’” The animals had apparently been left in the trailer after the family was evicted. They had reportedly moved dogs in their custody to another county. It was later reported that it was believed that more than 70 dogs were being “warehoused in a former cabinet factory” by the “rescue” in Knox County. A neighbor said that she rarely saw dogs outside the building. “We see the same rotating six dogs …. That’s it,” she said. Authorities had reportedly “asked Meisenhelder and Beaupry to allow them inside so they [could] check on the dogs, and inspect their living quarters” but hadn’t yet received permission. NBC4i.com later reported that authorities had seized more than 50 dogs from the former cabinet factory in Knox County after a neighbor revoked the “rescue’s” permission to use the driveway leading to the building. Without use of the driveway, water couldn’t be transported to the building, which lacked a water source.

August 2018/Abilene, Texas: ReporterNews.com reported that Abilene Animal Services had implemented “no-kill” policies to reduce intake at the city’s shelter. The shelter reportedly receives more than 80 unwanted, lost, and homeless animals on some days. Intake hours had been reduced to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday—times when most people are working. City residents would no longer be able to surrender animals without an appointment, and the facility wouldn’t accept any animals from those outside the city without an appointment. The changes had reportedly been made at the request of Best Friends Animal Society, which pushes for similar harmful policies nationwide.

August 2018/Poplar Bluff, Missouri: KXXV.com reported that a spokesperson for the city’s animal control department said that “animal abandonment has gotten a lot worse in the last year. He said he’s seen more people who move out of their houses leave their animals behind.” A police department spokesperson said that “the city shelter is often at full capacity” and that “illegal dog dumping is an ever-growing problem.” The comments were made after eight malnourished and dehydrated puppies had been found abandoned in a cardboard box at an intersection. Other recent cases involved two puppies who had been “found in a pillowcase and a bunch of puppies [who] were … found in a trash bag.” Residents had also been leaving dogs at the animal shelter just out of view of surveillance cameras that had been installed. The owner of the eight puppies was identified and charged with eight counts of animal neglect. The mother dog and another puppy were surrendered to authorities.

August 2018/Elizabethton, Tennessee: Elizabethton.com reported that the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter had been over capacity for more than a month. It’s “only accepting new animals in emergency cases, and regular intakes have been suspended.” Since the facility suspended intakes, animals had reportedly been left there after hours. According to the shelter director, “People are setting them out at the fence and leaving them.” Other animals had evidently been abandoned in the community, including a litter of kittens who’d been put into a plastic carrier and thrown “off a bridge and into the river.” A passerby rescued them and called authorities, and an animal control officer took them to the shelter, where they were described as “soaking wet” and in need of medical care. It wasn’t reported whether authorities were investigating the incident.

August 2018/New Hampton, New Hampshire: ConcordMonitor.com reported that authorities had “found dozens of animals, from horses to hamsters, dead or dying” at a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as White Gates Critter Sanctuary. Edith Daughen and her husband, Nicholas Torrey, were each charged with 44 counts of cruelty to animals, among other charges. Authorities reported finding “a dead snake and a dead bird; both had either starved to death or died of extreme dehydration.” They also “found dogs, cats, reptiles, rabbits, birds and other animals in various states of malnourishment. Most had no food and none had water.” A horse removed from the property was reportedly “so emaciated that she collapsed in the trailer …. She had total muscular atrophy and … was too far gone to be saved.”

August 2018/Chicago, Illinois: Chicago.SunTimes.com reported that an alderman had “demanded” that the Chicago Animal Care and Control shelter “stop allowing animal rescue organizations to ‘cherry-pick purebred or premium’ animals picked up by city crews.” He said that such groups had been “leaving us all the dogs nobody wants and can’t adopt out.” The facility’s former director, Susan Russell, was accused of maintaining “a ‘secret room’ unbeknownst to the general public where purebred dogs were taken so ‘chosen individuals’ could get ‘first crack at the expensive dogs that they then often sell for thousands of dollars.’” A month earlier, she’d been fired for “allegedly ‘warehousing’ dogs in chronically overcrowded conditions that made dangerous dogs more dangerous.” (See the July 2018/Chicago, Illinois, entry below.)

August 2018/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that the city’s self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter, doing business as Austin Animal Center, was housing 456 dogs. Shelter officials reportedly said that it’s “the most dogs they’ve seen in two years.” The facility had “run out of kennels to keep the dogs in so they [were] being kept in meeting rooms, offices and outdoor truckport kennels.”

August 2018/Los Angeles, California: KTLA.com reported that a dog named Valerie who had been adopted from Orange County (OC) Animal Care during a free adoption event was found two weeks later injured and abandoned in a neighborhood. A resident called an adoption group, which transported the dog to a veterinary hospital, and she died there. The group alleged that she’d sustained trauma, including possible sexual abuse. A microchip was traced to OC Animal Care, which released a statement that said, “The OC Animal Care shelter does not discriminate against those wishing to adopt unless they are suspected of or have been convicted of animal offenses. … [T]he individual who adopted Valerie is now ineligible for future adoptions at our shelter.” OCRegister.com reported that authorities were investigating.

August 2018/Rio Rancho, New Mexico: KRQE.com reported that a self-professed dog-training company doing business as K9 Rehab Institute had produced and was selling bumper stickers that read, “Rehabilitate a Dog, Euthanize an Animal Control Officer.” The owner of the group reportedly “made the bumper sticker because she claims Rio Rancho Animal Control is unnecessarily putting dogs down.”

August 2018/League City, Texas: CommunityImpact.com reported that the League City Animal Shelter was crowded and was “no longer accepting surrendered or stray animals.” The shelter director said that since becoming “no-kill” the previous year, “the facility has been inundated with unwanted pets” and that cats were being housed “at pet stores across the city.”

July 2018/Gaston County, North Carolina: WSOCTV.com reported that the Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement shelter would no longer accept animals without an appointment from people who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, care for them any longer. Appointments would reportedly only be scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1 and 3 p.m.—times when most people are working. Crowding at the shelter was cited as a reason for the restrictions.

July 2018/Lake County, Florida: MyNews13.com reported that the Lake County Animal Shelter “has been filled to capacity since the county decided to make the shelter no-kill” in 2017. Because the facility was reportedly crowding almost 500 animals into a space designed to house 350, the county planned to spend $7.8 million to construct a new one.

July 2018/Danbury, Connecticut: NewsTimes.com reported that Danbury city officials had filed a lawsuit against a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Tails of Courage after the group “continued to house and offer dogs for adoption … in violation of city and health inspectors’ orders.” Health inspectors said that they had found “disgusting conditions” at the property during three separate inspections over the previous year, including one during which they found nearly 60 dogs “sharing cages in the garages where they found feces and urine.” More than six weeks later, inspectors found a dog who “was in need of immediate medical attention from sores on her feet from standing in feces and urine …. The dog could not bear her body weight on her paws.” The manager of the “rescue,” Krystal Lopez, had reportedly been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, and zoning inspectors issued a cease-and-desist order against the group because it “had expanded well beyond its allowed capacity without the appropriate permits and improperly discharged sewage from the animals.” The city had reportedly requested injunctions to stop the “rescue” from housing animals “until it complies with all of the state and health department’s orders.”

July 2018/Logan, Utah: TimesUnion.com reported that after an animal shelter doing business as Cache Humane Society decided to operate as a “no-kill” facility, costs went up. After failing to negotiate an agreement with city officials, shelter management changed the facility’s locks, which reportedly left police officers with no place to take animals seized in cruelty cases, dangerous dogs, and homeless animals in need of refuge. The police department set up cages at the police station to house animals temporarily.

July 2018/Fort Smith, Arkansas: NWAHomepage.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as HOPE Humane Society was turning away animals because it was full. The facility reportedly had 130 people on a waiting list to surrender animals, and “crates and kennels” filled with animals lined its halls. A shelter manager reportedly acknowledged that animals turned away were at risk, saying of neglected and unwanted animals, “They’re starving. They aren’t wild animals. These are animals that depend on people.”

July 2018/Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: OttawaCitizen.com published a column alleging that just days after being adopted, a dog named Cali who’d been imported from an open-admission animal shelter in Riverside, California, had broken away from her new owner and attacked and severely injured a small dog on private property. The adopter had to pay nearly $7,000 in veterinary bills. She reportedly called three self-professed “rescues” for assistance to train or find a new home for the dog, but none would help. Because of the risk that Cali posed, the adopter had her euthanized.

July 2018/Chesapeake, Virginia: PilotOnline.com reported that authorities had removed 39 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as House of Thunder Senior Basset Hound Sanctuary and Rescue after they were found hoarded in a filthy home that smelled so strongly of urine and feces that it could be smelled “down the street.” A resident reported concerns about conditions after seeing puppies advertised for sale on the internet, which included photos of “a yard filled with trash and debris, and puppies in a crate covered in feces.” The “rescue” owner reportedly surrendered the dogs, and authorities “expect to charge the owner with multiple counts of failing to provide proper care.”

July 2018/Miami Township, Ohio: MyDaytonDailyNews.com reported that just days after he or she was adopted, a dog released by an animal shelter attacked and badly injured an 8-year-old girl who was taking him or her for a walk. A neighbor said that his wife’s screams alerted him to the attack, and he saw the dog “with [his or her] mouth on the head actively biting” the child, who was “covered in blood.” He reportedly “took the leash from the victim and ended the attack by ‘choking the dog with [the] collar.’” The child was hospitalized with “multiple head injuries,” and authorities removed the dog for a quarantine period before he or she would likely be euthanized. Before adopting the dog, the owner said that she was told that “the dog would be fine around children.” WHIO.com reported that the girl had sustained a fractured skull and “about a dozen wounds on her head.”

July 2018/Frankford, Delaware: DoverPost.com reported that an officer with the state Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) had responded to a call from a resident who was concerned about an abandoned homeless kitten found with a severe eye infection and so sick that he or she wouldn’t eat or drink. After picking up the kitten, the officer reportedly transported him or her to another area and left the ailing animal “in the woods.” When the resident filed a complaint against the officer, an OAW spokesperson reportedly said that “they leave that kind of thing to the discretion of the field officers and that feral cats don’t go to shelters.” In 2010, “no-kill” legislation was passed in Delaware. In 2014, a volunteer with a “rescue” in the state said, “Delaware law changed several years ago concerning animals, so a lot of the shelters just completely shut down as far as accepting cats …. Basically what that caused, is it makes statistics look good in shelters … and puts the killing on people who are dumping them out on the street because they have nowhere to take them.” Local residents searched but were unable to find the sick kitten.

July 2018/Valrico, Florida: TampaBay.com reported that a lawsuit had been filed against real-estate agent Deborah Clark, the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Cat Call Inc., after she sold a home that was described as “uninhabitable” because of damage caused by animals hoarded at the property before the sale. After purchasing the home, the buyers were reportedly “overwhelmed by the stench of stale cat urine that, unbeknownst to them, was deeply embedded in the drywall and insulation.” They alleged that Clark had “used the property to house up to 25 feral, stray and abandoned cats” and, according to the complaint, “engaged in a scheme to conceal the damage done to the property, and the noxious odors emanating from the property … by, but not limited to, installing new carpet, replacing baseboards, painting over urine saturated drywall and insulation, and through the use of masking deodorizers to hide the stench of cat urine from prospective purchasers.” The lawsuit, which was reportedly filed against Clark and a realty company she worked for, alleged “negligence, breach of contract and failure to disclose hidden defects that left the house ‘uninhabitable.’”

July 2018/Savannah, Tennessee: WBBJTV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found hoarded and neglected at a private residence. A police department spokesperson said, “Some of the cats were very malnourished. Some of them were living in their own feces. You could tell that they just haven’t been taken care of.” An animal services spokesperson reportedly told the outlet that approximately 50 cats had been found in cages outside and that workers expected to find around “100 more cats on the property; many, they say, on the brink of death.” A neighbor said of the cats, “Their hair is falling off of them. There was one, it looks like maybe, [his or her] throat’s been cut or [he or she has] been injured around [the] throat …. There’s several of them that are just barely walking around.” Authorities reportedly said that the “rescue” owner could face felony cruelty-to-animals charges.

July 2018/Springfield, Missouri: News-Leader.com reported that a resident had been charged with animal abandonment after video surveillance footage captured her leaving a dog on the side of a road. The animal was reportedly found later “badly dehydrated” and suffering from burns to the paws, apparently sustained while running on hot pavement to try and catch up to the owner’s vehicle. She allegedly told authorities that she felt that abandoning the dog was “her only option” after she was turned away from several animal shelters in the area, which told her that they were full.

July 2018/Waterford Township, New Jersey: Philadelphia.CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had charged the owner of a self-professed horse “sanctuary” doing business as Labrador Hill Sanctuary with more than 60 counts related to neglect and cruelty after animals had been found without adequate food, water, or shelter at the property. A witness said, “Six or seven horses have died in the last month or two, because they didn’t have water in that heat.” Animals had allegedly been found “suffering from EPM (a neurological disease caused by infection), staggering around, appeared starved, and some had gaping wounds with maggots in them.” An investigation was reportedly ongoing.

July 2018/Tucson, Arizona: KVOA.com reported that the Pima Animal Care Center had been adopting out dangerous dogs, including one who had been repeatedly returned because he was aggressive. He had allegedly become so unstable that shelter workers had to use “equipment (drag lines, covers, etc)” to handle him. Another dog had reportedly been adopted out five times, “despite notes about aggression toward people and other animals.” In his second home, he’d reportedly bitten four children.

July 2018/DeKalb County, Georgia: AJC.com reported that an emaciated dog had been abandoned in the parking lot of a closed county animal shelter after a self-professed “no-kill” facility doing business as LifeLine Animal Project, which the county contracted for sheltering services, had announced that it was full and was “in crisis mode.” The dog was in such bad shape that “he couldn’t stand or lift his head.” The facility requires a $35 surrender fee to accept animals from people who can’t or won’t care for them. The dog was being treated.

July 2018/Clarksville, Tennessee: ClarksvilleNow.com reported that residents had expressed concern that animals would be abandoned after Montgomery County officials voted to charge fees at the taxpayer-funded shelter to accept animals from residents who couldn’t or wouldn’t care for them any longer. The facility also set fees that would be required before it would accept animals for euthanasia from residents who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for euthanasia services at veterinary hospitals in order to relieve sick and dying animals of their suffering.

July 2018/Sardis, Mississippi: WREG.com reported that authorities were investigating after 12 dogs were found dead in a van being used to transport them to another state from a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Southern Pines Animal Shelter. The vehicle was taking approximately 50 dogs from Mississippi to Minnesota when it broke down. Witnesses reportedly saw that “the van was pulled over on the side of the highway for two to four hours.” One witness said, “We pulled over to see what was going on. … [I]t was a lot of animals. Some of them dead, a lot of them in bad condition.” It wasn’t immediately known how the animals had died. The sheriff reportedly said that criminal charges would be pursued if deemed appropriate.

July 2018/Multnomah County, Oregon: PortlandTribune.com reported that a city audit of Multnomah County Animal Services had found “mismanagement, inattention to staff and training, and a focus on boosting live-release rates over public safety.” Auditors reportedly found that, in some cases, dogs had been “on the adoption floor with no enrichment for months, with no human contact other than feeding,” and some employees told them that “animals don’t receive adequate care, causing behavioral problems to fester and worsen. Then … the animals are adopted out.” In addition, “[m]ultiple staff members expressed concern that dogs they did not consider safe were adopted out.” Some employees and others reportedly claimed that “shelter management was focused more on improving its statistics … than it was on providing humane treatment.” A spokesperson for an adoption group reportedly told auditors that she had at times received animals from the shelter in such poor shape that she had provided them with euthanasia services in order “to put them out of their misery.” An animal control officer reportedly told auditors that he was frustrated that the shelter adopts out aggressive animals and that the situation “has gotten much worse in the past year.” He described cases of children having been rushed to the emergency room after they’d been attacked by adopted dogs.

July 2018/Chicago, Illinois: Chicago.SunTimes.com reported that the director of Chicago Animal Care and Control had been “fired for ‘warehousing’ dogs in conditions that made dangerous dogs more dangerous.” A source at city hall reportedly said that dogs had been “stored in offices and inhumane conditions” and that “multiple volunteers and staff members” had been bitten by dogs at the city shelter. Bite reports had reportedly increased by 58 percent in the previous year. Dangerous dogs had reportedly been returned after adoptions, and one killed a dog at the adopter’s home. A city hall source said, “We talked to her about the shelter being overcrowded. But she refused to listen [or] do anything about it. She was focused on driving up live outcomes and adoptions.”

July 2018/Mesa County, Colorado: GJSentinel.com reported that a man who had captured and drowned a neighbor’s cat would not be charged with cruelty to animals and had “resolved the case by paying restitution.” He admitted to drowning the animal, explaining that “he was at his wit’s end trying to keep the cat out of his yard,” and said that he “blames a local cat shelter and Mesa County Animal Services” for not accepting unwanted cats. The local shelter reportedly told the man that it wouldn’t accept the animal because “it sounded like the cat was feral.”

June 2018/Decatur, Illinois: Herald-Review.com reported that authorities had seized 25 cats and seven dogs from the owner of a nonprofit spay/neuter clinic doing business as Care Van Pet Program, which “also took in homeless dogs and cats.” Court documents reportedly alleged that the owner had failed to provide them with necessary care, including “food, water, sanitation and veterinary services.” A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office reportedly said that the animals had been found in “extremely unsanitary conditions with some having no access to food or water.” An investigation was ongoing.

June 2018/Dyer County, Tennessee: StateGazette.com reported that cats were being turned away from the Dyersburg/Dyer County Humane Society, an animal shelter partially funded with taxpayer money. A spokesperson for the facility reportedly said that it was “nearing its goal of becoming a no-kill shelter. However, the number of animals (both dogs and cats) left abandoned is overwhelming,” leaving the shelter “little room to accept new arrivals.” A resident said that she had taken a pregnant cat who’d been abandoned near her home to the shelter and had been turned away, “forcing her to return the cat … to her neighborhood.” She went back approximately four weeks later with the cat and five kittens who had since been born and said an employee again “informed her she could not drop off the animals per the shelter’s current ‘no cat’ policy.” When she refused to abandon the animals again, the employee allegedly “snatched up the box of cats and threw it 10–15ft. into the back of a truck.” The employee was fired after a complaint was filed. The woman said that another abandoned cat in her neighborhood had also “become pregnant and the neighborhood is now littered with stray animals [who are] uncared for.”

June 2018/Jefferson City, Missouri: STLToday.com reported that authorities had recorded 96 violations of the state’s animal-protection laws at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as My Children Animal Rescue Shelter. Inspectors with the Missouri Department of Agriculture had reportedly found 21 dogs confined to a filthy apartment, some in need of veterinary care, and other violations at the “rescue.” The state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the “rescue,” seeking an injunction to prohibit the owner temporarily from operating it. Violations found by inspectors over the previous year included the following: inadequate shelter and unwholesome food, inadequate veterinary care, excess fecal matter, inadequate social groupings, dogs with fighting injuries, a dog who was attacked by other dogs during an inspection, dogs with hair loss, a dog with an injured nose, and an underweight dog. The owner had also been cited for operating a shelter without a permit.

June 2018/Hernando County, Florida: ABCActionNews.com reported that authorities had seized dozens of dogs from a self-professed “no-kill shelter” doing business as We Care for Paws Foundation. Owner Carol Allard reportedly failed to meet the requirements to apply for a kennel license, and a sheriff’s department spokesperson explained that housing was inadequate and dangerous: “The wires become exposed and so now … the dog is walking on [them] and it’s ending up causing injury and damage to their paws.” FOX13News.com reported that the sheriff’s office noted “a history of problems at the property,” including complaints from residents. Approximately 80 dogs and 20 cats had been found at the property, and Allard was allowed to keep 14 of the animals. It wasn’t reported whether charges were being considered. In 2016, the “shelter” apparently received a “Shelter Animals Count” incentive grant from a “no-kill” marketing company called Maddie’s Fund, and it was listed as a “Network Partner” of Best Friends Animal Society at the time of the raid.

June 2018/Washington Township, Ohio: WDTN.com reported that a dog who had been released to a foster home by SPCA Cincinnati had attacked and killed another dog in the neighborhood. Two people were bitten when they tried to stop the attack, and the foster dog was reportedly “punch[ed]” and “hit” during the incident. She was signed over to local authorities and euthanized.

June 2018/Saginaw, Michigan: WNEM.com reported that a resident said she’d been turned away from the Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Center when she took several homeless cats there. The facility’s director reported that it had implemented a “managed intake” policy and that residents were put on a waiting list if they needed to drop off animals. According to the report, “It comes after several cases of alleged animal abuse in Mid-Michigan where kittens were thrown out of moving vehicles like trash.

June 2018/Knoxville, Tennessee: WBIR.com reported that a cat who had been taken to a county-funded turn-away facility doing business as Young-Williams Animal Center to be quarantined on a rabies watch had been “accidentally” turned over to an organization that abandons cats on farms in another county. After she was abandoned at a farm, she “reportedly got loose from a shed holding the cats at the farm. The farm’s owner reported he had seen the cat up in the rafters, but said at the time she hadn’t been seen since.” Her owner wanted to go to the farm to look for her, but the organization refused to tell her where it’s located.

June 2018/Naples, Florida: NBC-2.com reported that a man had run away after he “violently tossed two kittens” into the lobby of a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Humane Society Naples. One of the kittens required surgery for a broken leg, possibly sustained during the incident. The shelter reported that it only accepts animals from people after they made an appointment, filled out forms, and paid a $20 fee per animal.

June 2018/New York, New York: NBCNewYork.com reported that a dog who had been adopted from Animal Care Centers of NYC had attacked two dogs in a neighborhood, killing one of them, in two separate incidents. After the second attack, she was taken back to the shelter, and neighbors were reportedly circulating a petition asking that she not be returned to the community.

June 2018/Jefferson Parish, Louisiana: NOLA.com reported that authorities had seized more than 60 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Rolling River Ranch and Rescue after they were found hoarded in “unsanitary conditions” without “adequate food and water.” Animals seized included 40 dogs, 20 goats, and an unspecified number of cats. The “rescue” operator, Maria Thomas, was charged with one count of cruelty to animals, and additional charges were expected to be filed against her. Complaints had reportedly been filed against the “rescue” over the previous year, which led to a 2017 agreement between Thomas and authorities to avoid legal action against her at the time. Under the agreement, which she violated, she had agreed to stop taking in animals and allow authorities to make unannounced inspections at the property.

June 2018/Edmonton, Canada: CTVNews.ca reported that three cats had been found clinging to life after they were left in cages for 22 days in a vehicle used by a “team” at a limited-admission facility doing business as Edmonton Humane Society. They had been transferred from another facility prior to being left in the truck. The cats were reportedly dehydrated, “hungry,” and suffering from urine burns when they were discovered. They received medical treatment and were then transferred to yet another facility.

May 2018/Key Largo, Florida: FLKeysNews.com reported that a man alleged that he’d been turned away from an animal shelter in Key Largo when he tried to surrender 40 cats who were suffering from a variety of serious medical conditions, including “open wounds, infected wounds, pneumonia, respiratory infections, lice, mange and scabies. All were emaciated, poorly fed and scratching or shaking.” He said that he’d acquired them from the street, where he’d found them roaming. A shelter that was reportedly 78 miles away eventually accepted them, and he was charged with 36 counts of cruelty to animals and four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Seven of the cats were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized.

May 2018/Weeki Wachee, Florida: RNRFOnline.com reported that authorities had seized 36 dogs, six cats, “46 horses, mules and minis, three pigs … and a flock of roosters and chickens” from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” and arrested the owner. The dogs were reportedly found “living without adequate shelter or water.” In addition, “[s]ome of the animals were secured in pens that were too small and were filled with a combination of mud, feces and urine.” The “sanctuary” owner was facing 36 charges of cruelty to animals. ABCActionNews.com reported that the horses were “[s]cared, weak and hungry.” They were reportedly thin and injured and hadn’t received needed hoof care.

May 2018/Laton, California: ABC30.com reported that authorities had seized 383 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Laton Animal Rescue & Care Inc. and charged the owner with seven counts of felony cruelty to animals. The animals included dogs, farmed animals, and equines who were suffering from a variety of medical conditions, including mange and other skin diseases. Two cows were found starved to death. YourCentralValley.com reported that 82 percent of the dogs had tested positive for ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne disease, and that many of the animals were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized.

May 2018/Austin, Texas: MyStatesman.com reported that five volunteers at the city’s self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter, the Austin Animal Center, had been suspended after voicing concerns about the adoption of a pit bull named Wilma to a man who allegedly told them that he had sold pit bulls in the past. He had also reportedly been cited for leaving a dog in a car unattended. A city spokesperson said that selling the dogs was not necessarily a “disqualifying factor” for adoption. Volunteers were also concerned because the adoption separated Wilma from another dog, named Betty, with whom she was bonded. A city news release reportedly said that the shelter was “out of space” and that “[s]ome animals are in crates or staff offices because of overcrowding.” Another volunteer reported that “somewhere between 30 and 50 dogs don’t get out of their kennels on any given day” because of crowding. Volunteers reportedly raised $600 and purchased Wilma from the adopter, who returned to the shelter and adopted another dog a week later.

May 2018/Ecorse, Michigan: WXYZ.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pit Stop for Change Rescue & Rehabilitation was facing possible cruelty-to-animals charges after authorities seized 17 dogs, who were found in a hot moving truck. The “rescue” operator was also accused of moving with 70 dogs from a warehouse in Louisiana, where “rescuers” found “horrific” conditions, including filth and six dead dogs. According to FOX2Detroit.com, authorities in Michigan found 17 dogs in a 100-degree box truck and believed that they’d been confined there all day. Water receptacles were empty, the smell was “horrible,” and the dogs lacked required health certificates. The animals were emaciated, had overgrown toenails, and were apparently infested with internal parasites. After moving from Louisiana to Michigan, the “rescue” reportedly had to close after violating zoning ordinances.

May 2018/Citrus County, Florida: ChronicleOnline.com reported that authorities had cited a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Out of the Box Animal Rescue Inc. for 10 violations of animal-related ordinances. A judge found the business guilty on all counts. The citations were given after the “rescue” failed to allow a dog in its custody to be quarantined after he’d bitten a child, causing the boy to have to undergo 14 post-exposure rabies prevention injections.

May 2018/Chicago, Illinois: ChicagoTribune.com reported that pet shops in Chicago—where stores are prohibited from selling dogs and cats unless they’ve been obtained from animal shelters or adoption groups—had purchased dogs from two self-professed animal “rescues” in the Midwest that were registered at the same addresses as large breeding operations (puppy mills). Dog Mother Rescue Society in Missouri and Hobo K-9 Rescue in Iowa reportedly both shared addresses with commercial breeding facilities and had been formed since Chicago’s pet shop ordinance was passed. The two companies had reportedly sent more than 1,200 dogs—most of them young puppies—to pet shops in Chicago over a two-year period. Plans were underway to revise the city’s ordinance to prevent puppies from commercial breeding mills from being funneled through shell nonprofits to be sold in the city.

May 2018/Farmington, Minnesota: HometownSource.com reported that authorities had arrested the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Minnesota Animal Rescue after finding more than 60 “dead cats in numerous locations—shallow graves in the yard, inside a detached a garage and inside the home’s freezer and refrigerator.” Authorities also seized 40 live cats and were concerned that the operator, Caycee Bregel, had animals confined at a second location. Minnesota.CBSLocal.com reported that five dogs, a hamster, a pig, and a rabbit were also seized; that cats had been found locked in rooms that were difficult to access because of trash and debris; and that the home was covered with feces and urine. Bregel may have also been doing business as Minnesota Foster Cats and Kittens. TheEpochTimes.com reported that a local resident said that she’d reported concerns about the “rescue” numerous times but that “no one listened.” She also “said that she thinks the Humane Society should not have kept giving Bregel animals in the first place.” FOX9.com reported that a first responder had said that surviving cats were “[v]ery hungry.” She continued, “They were missing fur. They were … you could see every bone in their body. Some of them were missing some body parts. . . . There were animals everywhere. … There was feces everywhere. It was the most horrendous smell I’ve ever smelled in my life.” The case was under investigation.

May 2018/Plant City, Florida: TampaBay.com reported that authorities had seized more than 320 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Fur N’ Feather Farm after they were found “sick, flea-ridden and emaciated.” Many were suffering from upper respiratory infections, and six were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. The owner, Jean Wilkes, agreed to shut down the business but may still face cruelty-to-animals charges. She was allowed to keep 100 exotic birds found at the property after an inspection by state fish and wildlife officials. WTSP.com reported that workers had to wear protective gear to enter the filthy home and that cats “were suffering from multiple problems, such as respiratory infections, parasites and dehydration.” WFLA.com reported that five dogs had also been found at the property and that custody of the cats had been signed over to the county. A spokesperson said that by court order, Wilkes “cannot operate as a pet rescue. She cannot operate as a foster. And we have the right and ability to come in at anytime and inspect her property to make sure she’s complying with this agreement of five cats only.” She was also allowed to keep the dogs, in addition to the 100 birds.

May 2018/South Bend, Indiana: ABC57.com reported that authorities had seized 27 cats from a member of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pet Refuge, Inc., after they were found hoarded in cruel conditions. Photos taken by authorities showed sick cats, overflowing litterboxes, cat feces in a kitchen sink, and the near destruction of the home. One of the cats was in such bad shape that he or she had to be euthanized. SouthBendTribune.com reported that some of the cats “allegedly had abscesses and maggots, serious upper respiratory infections and other medical conditions that had gone untreated.” An investigation was ongoing.

May 2018/Hubbard County, Minnesota: ParkRapidsEnterprise.com reported that charges had been filed against Chelsey Lizakowski, the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Healing Hearts and Hooves, after a “deputy observed over 50 horses on [her] property. He noted that bark was eaten off a significant number of trees, with little hay out for the horses.” A humane investigator “estimated there were 75 to 80 horses and not enough shelter for all of them … [leaving] 50 or so horses without cover during inclement weather.” He said that “there was hay present and some water, but not nearly enough for the amount of horses.” Many of the animals were also “underweight” and “needed hoof care.” Two stallions were reportedly “freely breeding,” and Lizakowski told investigators that she “planned to sell the newborns.” A veterinarian statement reportedly said that “a number of horses displayed clinical signs of lice infestations and had ‘unacceptable’ BCS [Body Condition Scoring] of 4 and under.” Lizakowski “pleaded guilty to [a] public nuisance offense with the agreement that the charge of mistreatment of animals will be dismissed.” The court ordered that by October 1, she “must have an additional shelter erected for the horses on the property.” In addition, she “must allow law enforcement, a Humane Society representative or appointed veterinarian onto her property to ensure compliance.”

May 2018/Catawba County, North Carolina: WSOCTV.com reported that a dog adopted from a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as the Humane Society of Catawba County had attacked a child in the adopter’s home, nearly ripping out her eye. After the attack, the girl was bleeding badly and required stitches. The dog had reportedly been at the shelter for two months before the adoption. “They really didn’t tell us much about the dog,” the adopter said of shelter staff. “They just told us to pick out a dog and to take it to the play yard to play with it.” The animal was quarantined after the attack.

April 2018/Clinton, Missouri: ABC17News.com reported that two workers at a shelter operated by a nonprofit doing business as the Clinton Animal Rescue Endeavor had sustained serious injuries when they were attacked by a dog housed at the facility. Two employees of a nearby transfer station went to the shelter after hearing the attack and “cries for help” and “found the dog actively attacking the male worker. The dog had bitten him in the neck and face and would not let go.” One of the transfer station workers used a weapon from his truck to shoot the animal twice in order to stop the attack. The dog died, and both shelter workers were rushed to the hospital by ambulance.

April 2018/Corpus Christi, Texas: KRISTV.com reported that authorities had arrested two men on cruelty-to-animals charges after seven dogs were found shot to death. One of the men allegedly admitted that he owned the dogs and that the other man had helped him “[take] care of a problem” after the dogs attacked and killed other animals on his property. The owner said that he had tried to find a shelter to accept them “but was unsuccessful.”

April 2018/Veedersburg, Indiana: WISHTV.com reported that eight former volunteers and several people who had adopted animals from a self-professed “animal rescue” doing business as Hoosier Hooves and Hounds alleged that animals there had been neglected. A dog adopted from the group reportedly couldn’t even climb stairs because her muscles had atrophied. Another adopted dog had been diagnosed as having heartworms and was infested with fleas. A former volunteer who worked there for almost a year said that dogs were kept in small crates the “majority of the time” and that she didn’t see any of the animals receive routine vaccinations. The organization had been receiving payments from three municipalities to house animals. Clerks for two of the towns said that they would’ve canceled the contracts if they’d seen photos taken at the “rescue,” which claims to have closed.

April 2018/Richmond, Virginia: WashingtonPost.com reported that the Richmond Animal Care & Control Foundation (RACC) had cited its “save rate” and open adoption policy when defending its animal shelter against criticism over the abandonment of a 12-year-old blind dog named OJ who had been adopted just days before. He’d been adopted with another dog, with whom he’d apparently lived and upon whom he relied for guidance, two days before he was found wandering alone on a rural road in another county. A good Samaritan took him to an animal shelter, which tracked his microchip to a woman who’d adopted him from RACC. When contacted, she reportedly said that she didn’t want the abandoned dog but intended to keep his companion. Both dogs were eventually reunited at RACC. Its director, Christie Chipps Peters, reportedly said that the adopter “will face no legal ramifications.”

April 2018/Danbury, Connecticut: DailyVoice.com reported that authorities had arrested an employee of a self-professed “animal rescue” doing business as Tails of Courage and charged her with two counts of cruelty to animals. FOX61.com reported that the suspect lived at and managed a shelter run by the group, where authorities had found dogs confined to cages that were “too small for them,” multiple animals housed in single cages, and an “excessive amount of fecal matter on the animals.” Responding to complaints about sick animals at the “rescue,” police reportedly found some who “they believed to be in distress” and who weren’t receiving needed care. It wasn’t reported whether any were seized. A court date was set. NewsTimes.com reported that authorities had ordered 25 animals found in “unhealthy and extremely unsanitary” conditions removed from the property in January. One dog named Twilight had been sent to a veterinary hospital for evaluation, where it was reportedly found that she suffered from “‘sores and ulcers’ on her paws from being exposed to urine or feces.”

April 2018/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: MyrtleBeachOnline.com reported that a staff veterinarian and two board members had resigned from a self-professed “no-kill animal shelter” doing business as Grand Strand Humane Society, apparently because they were prohibited from euthanizing animals who were ill with highly contagious ringworm infections. The outgoing veterinarian said that “attempting to treat a highly contagious zoonotic disease in the current situation is reckless and dangerous to the staff, the public, and the general cat population.” At a board of directors meeting, she provided a copy of an e-mail from a veterinarian with the ASPCA, who agreed and stated, “‘[A]s a highly contagious zoonotic disease I do not think it is appropriate to treat ringworm in the shelter unless you are able to provide care appropriately and safely.”

April 2018/Canton Township, Pennsylvania: WPXI.com reported that authorities had cited a self-professed “no-kill animal rescue” doing business as Pet Search for 13 animal-care violations, including for “failure to keep kennels sanitized, to have enough space for the dogs to sit and lie down, and failure to protect dogs against weather and have clean bedding.” No additional details were available.

April 2018/Sevierville, Tennessee: WBIR.com reported that an animal shelter that was previously a self-professed “no-kill shelter” doing business as Pets Without Parents (PWP) had entered into contracts with the county and area cities to provide sheltering services. The agreements were made after another private shelter in the area stopped accepting homeless and unwanted animals. After being flooded with animals, PWP reported that severe crowding and disease plagued the facility. Sick cats had reportedly been housed in the shelter’s intake area “for months,” and its president said that the facility had “many dogs here for three, four or five years.” In a Facebook post, a shelter representative reported, “[W]e had too many cats due to taking in as many as we could to meet the county and city contracts; not ever realizing 100s of cats would enter our facility.” Fifty cats had reportedly been transported to a veterinary hospital for assessment, and the shelter was taking steps to reduce its population further.

April 2018/Van Zandt County, Texas: DFW.CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized 70 horses, nine donkeys, six pigs, and a longhorn cow from a self-professed “animal sanctuary” doing business as Over the Moon. The remains of 50 dead horses were also discovered “in various states of decay” at the property, where emaciated horses were found with no food and little to no water. Some of them were so hungry that they had eaten tree bark and into the trunks of trees. Authorities were gathering evidence for possible criminal charges.

April 2018/Victor, New York: 13WHAM.com reported that at least 20 cats had died in a fire while trapped in a single-family home being operated as a self-professed “animal rescue” doing business as HopeAgain Cats, Inc. At least 30 cats and a dog were found inside the home, according to the city’s fire chief. An animal shelter reportedly took in the dog and four cats injured in the fire, which was believed to have started in the kitchen when no one was home.

April 2018/Hillsborough County, Florida: WFLA.com reported that residents were asking county commissioners to investigate the “lack of adoption screening” at the taxpayer-funded Pet Resource Center (PRC), which had been trying to operate as a “no-kill shelter,” after a dog named Theo was found just months after adoption starved, blinded, anemic, and barely able to stand. A local “animal rescue” representative said the shelter’s screening process was “a joke” and that “[t]hey’re just letting them out the door with anyone.” Theo was found in such bad shape that the PRC was pursuing cruelty-to-animals charges against the woman who had adopted him and her mother. WFLA.com later reported that a dog named Tiger had been adopted out by the PRC to the girlfriend of the man who had originally abandoned him and that she had given him back to the man. The previous year, a witness had videotaped Tiger’s owner pushing him out of a car that belonged to his girlfriend and driving off. The PRC apparently found and seized the dog and adopted him out to the same girlfriend four months later. Tiger was found at her boyfriend’s residence when he was arrested on an unrelated offense. A local “animal rescue” representative said, “We have no screening, they ask no questions, all they care about is that the dog leaves alive so they can put a check mark next to his number.” It was reported that “[r]escue groups blame PRC Director Scott Trebatoski for gutting the screening process in a rush to up the numbers of live releases.” Tiger was again seized and released to a “rescue group” from which he escaped, and he reportedly “remains missing.”

April 2018/Clarksburg, Maryland: FOX5DC.com reported that a dog adopted from the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center had attacked and killed a smaller dog named Lucy, who was playing at a playground with her family. The unleashed adopted dog charged between the legs of Lucy’s guardian and grabbed her, breaking her neck. The guardian tried to stop the attack and reported, “I grab[bed] the dog and I was punching, punching and punching, let it go and I saw the blood was coming out of Lucy’s eyes and mouth.” She was rushed home, where she died. The adopted dog was impounded for a quarantine period.

April 2018/St. Petersburg, Florida: BayNews9.com reported that authorities had seized 28 dogs from a self-professed “animal rescue” doing business as Happy Hounds Rescue after they were found hoarded in filthy conditions. Dog feces were found throughout the home, and puppies were found in a crate described as “soiled.” Conditions were so bad that the city declared the home unfit for human habitation. The owner, Rose Romano, was cited for cruelty to animals and creating a public nuisance. ABCActionNews.com reported that records showed that “shelters from all over the state have been sounding the alarm about Happy Hounds and Romano for years, alleging that she neglected some of the dogs she took from their shelters and that dogs became ‘sick,’ ’emaciated,’ and in some cases ‘died.’ One complaint alleges Romano dumped two dogs on the street right after she picked them up from an animal shelter in Highlands County. The dogs were later found and taken in by another shelter.” Romano reportedly admitted to abandoning the two dogs after they started fighting in her vehicle. Local authorities said that they’d investigated the “rescue” three times in three years after receiving complaints from other counties in the state but that they didn’t have the authority to shut it down.

April 2018/Cullman, Alabama: AL.com reported that a self-professed “animal rescuer” had been charged with 21 counts of cruelty to animals after authorities found seven dead puppies in a plastic tub and more than a dozen other neglected animals at her home. Seven dogs were found in an outdoor pen without access to shelter or water, three cats were found in a wire dog-training crate without food or water, and four cats were found crammed in another crate without food or water. The floors of the crates were covered with feces, and the cats were described as “very sickly.” A live puppy was found with blisters, and the dogs who’d died apparently also had some. In addition to the burns (allegedly caused by an electric heater), the surviving puppy suffered from severe dehydration and a parasite infestation. The animal was taken to a veterinary hospital but didn’t survive. Authorities also found two mature chickens in a cardboard box without food or water. The birds had eaten a portion of the box in an attempt to survive. All but three dogs were signed over to authorities.

April 2018/Robinson, Illinois: WTHITV.com reported that animals were being left in abandoned homes and dumped in rural areas. The director of the Crawford County Humane Society (CCHS) said that it was likely because the government-run shelter would accept only “obvious strays,” and CCHS charges fees to accept animals from owners who can’t, or won’t, care for them any longer.

April 2018/San Antonio, Texas: MySanAntonio.com reported that authorities had seized two cats who were “in need of immediate care” from the San Antonio Cat Café, which was hoarding more than 50 cats at the business. The nonprofit café, which houses cats available for adoption, was also ordered “not to allow the public to interact with its felines until it addresses various health issues, including a lack of proof of rabies vaccinations and needed treatment for contagious diseases such as upper respiratory infections.” A former employee alleged that the business owner had “hid[den]” the deaths of several cats from the public and denied needed veterinary care to sick cats. She also alleged that the owner had failed to isolate a cat infected with ringworm, “resulting in three different litters of kittens getting infected, along with members of the staff and volunteers.” KENS5.com reported that another former employee alleged that four cats had died at the café during her four months on the job and that the café’s owner said that she didn’t know how many cats were in her custody. More than a dozen citations were reportedly pending against the café, and authorities had asked the owner “to keep the business closed until the cats are in good health.”

April 2018/Clayton, New Mexico: ABC7Amarillo.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 120 animals from a self-professed “animal sanctuary” doing business as Dreampower Foundation after they were found living in conditions described as “deplorable.” Many of the animals suffered from neglect and apparently untreated medical conditions and injuries. Dogs were found “with little to no protection from the extreme heat and wind. Many of the food bowls were empty, filled with dirty backwater or frozen over.” Cats were found “confined to rooms inside the home, including the basement where they were found living with dirty litterboxes.” Evidence was being gathered for possible criminal charges. The property owner, Diane Benedict, had reportedly been cited in Colorado the previous year for operating a similar “sanctuary” in violation of a court order that prohibited her from having more than 15 animals without acquiring a license.

March 2018/Lane County, Oregon: RegisterGuard.com reported that a former volunteer had filed a lawsuit against the Greenhill Humane Society, SPCA, alleging personal injury, negligence, and liability after she was mauled by a dog at an animal shelter operated by the group. The lawsuit reportedly stated that the dog had been returned to the shelter twice because of “behavioral issues” and claimed that he was aggressive toward people, which “was enhanced by [his] housing at the shelter.” The former volunteer reportedly sustained injuries, including “an open bone fracture in an arm; lacerations on her face, arms, torso, legs and chest that required surgery and plastic surgery; [and] permanent scarring.”

March 2018/Jacksonville, Texas: CBS19.TV reported that hours after a dog adopted from the Jacksonville Animal Shelter had been taken to his new home, he was aggressive toward two children there. After the dog snapped at a boy with epilepsy, the child had a seizure. Another child sustained broken skin in a second attack hours later. The dog was returned to the shelter for a quarantine period, after which time he would reportedly “go through another evaluation period to determine if [he’s] adoptable.”

March 2018/Northport, Alabama: TuscaloosaNews.com reported that five homeowners had appeared before the city council to file complaints against a self-professed “canine rescue operation” being run by neighbor Stacy Ritter Jordan out of her home. One resident said that two pit bulls had escaped from the “rescue” twice and attacked his poodle, causing serious injury. Others were also concerned about potentially dangerous dogs escaping, and the owner of an area spay/neuter clinic reportedly told the council that she once found a dog at the property who was hanging by the collar on a fence after apparently trying to jump over it. She reportedly also “shared several additional anecdotes about animals in deplorable conditions under Jordan’s care and called on the council to make sure that if she is allowed to continue taking in animals, she has to do it the right way.” TuscaloosaNews.com later reported that city officials had ordered Jordan to cease operations, citing her failure to obtain a business license for Southern Paws Animal Rescue. She said that she had also failed to acquire a license for a former business, Alliance for Animal Welfare, and claimed that she’d “turned over leadership of the rescue to someone else.”

March 2018/Salem, Massachusetts: Patch.com reported that local residents were complaining that a self-professed “no-kill shelter” doing business as Northeast Animal Shelter had been turning away animals. The outlet reported that it had “heard from a dozen North Shore residents who … were rebuffed when they tried to place a lost or abandoned animal with the shelter.” One resident said that the shelter wouldn’t accept a cat who’d been hit by a car and referred her to an open-admission animal shelter because “no one would want him.” Another said that the shelter had refused to accept a lost or homeless cat whom she’d found “cold and crying” outdoors. Residents were also concerned that the shelter imports animals who are considered more adoptable from other states while turning away local animals. The shelter’s director reportedly said “that of the more than 5,000 dogs Northeast Animal Shelter took in during 2017, 1,013 were local pets, including 291 adoption returns whose original source could have been out of state” and that the shelter “cannot accept large numbers of any breeds that people do not want to adopt.” The director continued, “If we did that, these pets would sit in their kennels for the rest of their lives or until we went out of business because we had no room for adoptable pets and no adoption income.”

March 2018/Lewiston, Maine: SunJournal.com reported that two people had been injured and a dog killed in an attack by another dog released to a potential adopter by the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. The dog was taken into an apartment, where he or she “immediately bit the family’s Yorkie,” according to a witness. Two people sustained injuries when they tried to stop the attack: A man received lacerations to the face, and his daughter’s hands were cut. Both were taken to a hospital, and the Yorkshire terrier died. The dog who attacked had reportedly been advertised with a warning against allowing him or her to be around cats or small children. The animal was quarantined after the incident and was expected to be euthanized following the quarantine period.

March 2018/Iron Mountain, Michigan: IronMountainDailyNews.com reported that authorities had accepted a plea deal from the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Noah’s Nordic Ark. Dianne Marie Lund-Johnson pleaded guilty to kennel facility and animal burial violations in exchange for the dismissal of a charge of abandoning or cruelty to animals. The charges were filed after authorities found the bodies of dead animals in a ditch near her unlicensed shelter and found dogs housed at the property in kennels that were either too small or in dark locations and afforded little human interaction. She was allowed to keep a certain number of animals, provided that she would allow regular and random checks by authorities.

March 2018/Ferrisburgh, Vermont: AddisonIndependent.com reported that complaints about conditions at a self-professed “rescue” doing business as Heidi’s Haven Animal Rescue dated “back to at least 2007.” It had reportedly acquired animals from shelters, and neighbors complained that it was run out of a single-family home, where approximately 30 dogs and 10 cats were hoarded. Complaints included that the home had a bad odor and that it was attracting rats and mice to the neighborhood. Some people expressed concern about conditions for the animals, and one visitor said that she saw animals stacked in crates at the property. Court documents reportedly revealed that authorities had visited the property in 2011 and found “crowded and unsanitary conditions,” smelled “‘feces and urine’ in the garage and kitchen,” “saw feces on the kitchen floor,” and saw “multiple kennels stacked on top of each other.” They counted 28 dogs and nine cats on the property and cited the “rescue” operator for depriving an animal of “adequate food, water, shelter, rest, sanitation, or necessary medical attention.” WCAX.com later reported that neighbors had complained that there was “nonstop barking from the 32 dogs inside and that the property’s condition has led to a rat problem in the neighborhood.” At a town meeting, officials deemed Heidi’s Haven to be a business and gave the operator until mid-April to apply for a zoning permit and until the end of March to prove that conditions that were attracting rats to the area had been addressed.

March 2018/Miami-Dade County, Florida: WSVN.com reported that authorities had seized 15 to 20 dead, five conscious, and a “few” unresponsive cats from the home of the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Smilen Cats Rescue. The unconscious cats were in such bad shape that they had to be euthanized. A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Animal Services said, “This is the worst case for our investigations team of animal neglect and cruelty that we’ve ever seen. . . . The amount of death and decay and filth inside this residence that cats were living in is absolutely beyond belief.” The WSVN.com report showed graphic photos of litterboxes overflowing with waste, cats who were gravely ill, skeletal remains, and decomposing animals. Authorities believed that there were more cats in the “rescuer’s” custody and were asking the public for information that could lead to their whereabouts. She was charged with 18 counts of cruelty to animals.

March 2018/Mineral Wells, Texas: MineralWellsIndex.com reported that authorities had charged a self-professed animal “rescuer” with cruelty to animals after they found the bodies of 16 cats and the remains of other animals (“described as ‘unrecognizable’”) who had apparently died of starvation at two of her properties. They also found empty food and water bowls, litterboxes overflowing with waste, and some doors fastened shut with plastic ties, according to a report. In March 2015, the “rescuer” had reportedly “received a mayoral proclamation for her efforts at the Mineral Wells Animal Shelter by fostering animals” from the facility.

March 2018/Elliott County, Kentucky: Kentucky.com reported that authorities had charged the owner of a self-professed “no-kill” animal “sanctuary” doing business as The Trixie Foundation “with 179 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals and 179 counts of not vaccinating dogs against rabies.” A spokesperson for a self-professed “rescue” in the area (doing business as TLC Rescue) reportedly alleged that conditions at The Trixie Foundation were “abysmal” and that problems included “improper flea and tick control, inadequate health care and a lack of space.” She said that dogs and cats were confined to a relatively small area that she described as a “mud pit” and that animals “sometimes suffer as they are dying” because the owner won’t provide them with euthanasia under any circumstances.

March 2018/Jacksonville, Florida: ActionNewsJax.com reported that Jacksonville’s Animal Care and Protective Services had been turning away animals, leading people to throw them “out of moving vehicles,” abandon them at parks, and leave them in vacant homes. The facility was reportedly only open to accept homeless and unwanted animals for 16 hours each week and had turned away two stray dogs a good Samaritan had found abandoned at a park. An ActionNewsJax.com producer, who visited the facility and told workers that she needed to drop off a dog, reported that she was told that she needed an appointment—and that there wasn’t one available for four weeks.

March 2018/Millville, Utah: CacheValleyDaily.com reported that former volunteers had alleged that animals were “being mistreated,” not receiving needed veterinary care, and being kept in crowded conditions at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Four Paws Rescue, Inc. One cat had allegedly been kept confined to a crate for three years. More than 100 animals were allegedly hoarded at the homes of the “rescue’s” owner and assistant director, and animals were “relocated and hidden long enough for Animal Control to make visits, then … moved back.” HJNews.com reported that an animal control officer responding to a complaint about an excessive number of cats at the “rescue” had been denied entry into the residence and was told to come back at a later time. When he returned, he found “cat feces on the walls and ‘so much urine on the floors that the floor boards had been rotting away.’” Photographs taken by an HJNews.com reporter who visited the property showed dogs chained and penned in the snow without adequate shelter.

February 2018/Oakland County, Michigan: MLive.com reported that a pit bull who had been adopted four months earlier from a self-professed “rescue” had been roaming outdoors without supervision when he attacked a dog on a neighbor’s property. When a responding sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene, “he found the pit bull with his jaws locked around the other dog’s throat,” according to authorities. The deputy shot the pit bull to stop the attack, then shot him two more times, killing him. The other dog was reportedly being treated for “serious injuries.” No additional details were available.

February 2018/LaRue County, Kentucky: TheNewsEnterprise.com reported that authorities had seized 100 animals, including four cats who were found dead, from a self-professed animal “rescuer.” During testimony given in court, an animal control official described finding dogs crammed into filthy crates, animal feces and urine throughout the “rescuer’s” home, a lack of adequate food and water, some animals who were underweight, and several who were missing fur and suffering from skin conditions, open sores, and flea infestations. The 32-year animal control veteran said, “[I]t was the worst home I had ever been in during my career.” The “rescuer” told the jury that she “wanted to do something good for the community by having an animal rescue .… Other shelters brought me animals to hold for adoption.” She was convicted of 100 counts of cruelty to animals.

February 2018/Phoenix, Arizona: AZFamily.com reported that authorities had seized 165 animals from a boarding kennel that had “morphed into a rescue,” doing business as Planet Petopia Doggie Dude Ranch, and booked the owners “on suspicion of animal neglect, failure to provide medical care and hoarding.” Animals seized included dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, and turtles. Many were “found sick, emaciated, and sleeping on concrete with no bedding.” Kennels were reportedly covered with feces, and many animals suffered from “open wounds and sores [as well as] lacerations.” Four animals died after they were seized, and a spokesperson for an animal shelter involved in the case said, “They are almost all suffering from what’s called tick fever—a blood parasite.”

February 2018/Albuquerque, New Mexico: KOB.com reported that Deb Brinkley, the associate director of Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department, had been placed “on administrative leave amid an investigation into the department.” Records revealed that 28 dogs had been transferred to Brinkley’s Colorado animal “rescue” doing business as DMK Rehoming, while it was under investigation by Colorado state authorities for operating without a license. She was also named in a lawsuit alleging “gross mismanagement, waste of funds and abuse of authority” at the department. The lawsuit was filed by employees who also allege that she and other managers released dangerous dogs to the public.

February 2018/Fresno, California: YourCentralValley.com reported that authorities had seized between 65 and 90 animals, including cats, dogs, and horses, from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found hoarded on a small property, some in need of immediate medical care. Authorities had reportedly previously visited the property “after receiving tips about a Fresno County rescue group taking in way too many animals.” It wasn’t reported whether charges were being considered.

February 2018/Wetzel County, West Virginia: WOWKTV.com reported that authorities had seized 37 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Hope Valley Rescue after they were found emaciated, wounded, and/or suffering from the highly contagious parvovirus. Officials planned to pursue criminal charges in connection with the case.

February 2018/Pittsylvania County, Virginia: GoDanRiver.com reported that Pittsylvania County had formed an agreement with a group doing business as the Lynchburg Humane Society (LHS), which uses limited-admission policies, to operate the county’s animal shelter, the Pittsylvania Pet Center (PPC). Since then, nearly 500 animals from the county had been taken in by an area open-admission animal shelter. “Many have said that they don’t want to be put on a waiting list, with the cats especially,” said the executive director of the Danville Area Humane Society. PPC reportedly doesn’t accept homeless cats and has a waiting list to accept animals from residents who can no longer care for them. The LHS admitted that nine residents wanting to turn in dogs and cats had been placed on a waiting list over an eight-week period. Recent records reportedly showed that 11 dogs and 18 cats had died at the turn-away facility and 23 dogs had gone missing. The LHS’ executive director, Makena Yarbrough, was quoted as saying, “There are times where you bring in a litter of kittens, and some go out to foster care, but you don’t know where they end up .… [Y]ou can end up double recording them because you counted one twice. Sometimes when volunteers walk dogs … they’ll escape.”

January 2018/Daleville, Alabama: DothanEagle.com reported that approximately 20 dogs and “an undetermined number of cats and ducks” had died in a fire at the home of the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as All Breeds Rescue and Adoption. The owner was also killed in the incident, the cause of which was being investigated. WTVY.com reported that nearly 100 dogs had been hoarded at the home and 48 survived, one of whom was diagnosed with a “severe” heartworm infection. DothanFirst.com reported that some of the surviving dogs and cats had sustained burns and suffered from smoke inhalation. They were apparently receiving treatment.

January 2018/Citrus County, Florida: ChronicleOnline.com reported that a dog had been found dead at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Out of the Box Animal Rescue, after she’d apparently been strangled by a tangled tether that was used to confine her indoors. She had reportedly been handed over to the facility by the county animal shelter because she was aggressive around food. A woman reportedly left a recorded phone message at the sheriff’s department that alleged that the “dog died after being tethered to the wall inside the house” and that the “rescue” was “trying to hide what happened.” Authorities investigated but didn’t pursue criminal charges in the case.

January 2018/Maryville, Tennessee: 13WMAZ.com reported that authorities had seized seven dogs, two cats, and a python from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” who had abandoned them. Six dead dogs and three dead cats were also removed, some of whom were found trapped in cages. The “rescuer” allegedly admitted to abandoning the animals two weeks before they were found. Authorities said that they were evidently neglected before they were abandoned. A sheriff’s department spokesperson said, “Representatives with Blount County Animal Control said this is the worst case of animal cruelty they’ve seen.” The “rescuer” was charged with 21 counts of cruelty to animals.

January 2018/Jefferson County, Tennessee: StandardBanner.com reported that animals were being turned away from the Humane Society of Jefferson County, despite its contract with the county to provide animal-sheltering services. After a meeting of the county commission’s animal control board, two former shelter employees reported that several animals had been turned away from the facility after its board had decided to accept animals only “as space allows.” Six animals had reportedly been turned away on December 27, 2017, and possibly three more after that. Both of the employees resigned on December 28, and one of them said that she later learned that one of the dogs who had been turned away was then abandoned by his owner. The former president of the humane society said that the shelter was “no longer functioning as a compassionate resource for all animals in need and for the first time is no longer an open admissions shelter.” Commissioners were considering cutting or freezing county funding to the humane society unless it agreed to accept all animals.

January 2018/Frankfort, Illinois: ChicagoTribune.com reported that a lawsuit had been filed against a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Cache Creek Animal Rescue. The lawsuit alleged that a dog housed there had attacked and bitten a worker without provocation, and it sought more than $50,000 in damages. The dog’s status wasn’t reported.

January 2018/Fulton County, Georgia: Law.com reported that the mother of a 6-year-old boy who was killed on his way to school by roaming dogs had filed a lawsuit against a self-professed “no-kill” group doing business as Lifeline Animal Project, Inc., which contracts with Fulton County for animal control services. The lawsuit alleged “negligence; vicarious liability; negligent hiring, training and supervision; nuisance and breach of contract” and said that the group had “failed to act on repeated reports that a pack of ‘dangerous and vicious dogs’ was running free in the southwest Atlanta neighborhood where 6-year-old Logan Braatz was killed and a 5-year-old schoolmate, Syrai Sanders, was mauled as they and other children walked to school last January.” Sanders was critically injured when the dogs tore off an ear and part of her scalp, and AJC.com later reported that her family had filed a similar lawsuit against the group.

January 2018/Limon, Colorado: Denver.CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized more than 44 dogs, five birds, a pot-bellied pig, and an unspecified number of horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Happy Acres Rescue after they were found “in filthy conditions without enough food to eat.” Dead animals were also found at the property. Dogs were found “living among trash heaps in a series of cages, trailers and sheds.” A buildup of feces in a birdcage appeared “to be several months to years old.” Puppies were found lying in feces, and a dog was discovered with a tumor “the size of a baseball” on his or her neck. Five of the animals seized were in such bad shape that they died or had to be euthanized, and conditions at the facility were so hazardous that first responders had to wear protective suits. Investigators said that it had been breeding dogs without a license and selling them on the internet, and its operators had pleaded guilty to a cruelty-to-animals charge in 2007. Denver.CBSLocal.com later reported that one of the “rescue” operators had been convicted of 43 counts of cruelty to animals in the recent case and that a second was scheduled to stand trial.

January 2018/Vinton, Iowa: KCRG.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 1,000 animals found hoarded at the home of the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Rocket Ministries. Hundreds of animals—including a python, birds, chinchillas, fish, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, mice, rabbits, rats, and turtles—were found inside the home and a detached garage. Several dead animals were also found “scattered through the residence in various states of decomposition.” A veterinarian who examined the surviving animals said that many “were malnourished, dehydrated, and living in overcrowded conditions heavily contaminated with excessive amounts of fecal matter.” The operator was also accused of performing “do-it-yourself” spay and neuter surgeries on animals. KWWL.com reported that the homeowner said that she was running a “guinea pig rescue program” and that the state Department of Human Services was also investigating because four children had been living in the home. Authorities hadn’t yet determined whether criminal charges would be pursued. KCRG.com later reported that the number of animals involved in the seizure had climbed to near 1,200 because many of them had been pregnant when seized and gave birth at an animal shelter. A shelter representative also said, “We’ve seen a number of long-term injuries including injuries that have been around quite a while .… In one case there was a chinchilla [who] had a broken leg for so long that it started to heal improperly and the chinchilla start[ed] to chew the leg off.”

January 2018/Vernon, Connecticut: Patch.com reported that state and local authorities were investigating a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Freedom Paws, LLC, after a dog adopted from the facility had been diagnosed with distemper and had to be euthanized. Local authorities were reportedly investigating possible zoning, public health, and animal control ordinance violations. Documents revealed that it had been issued a notice of violation in 2016 after 17 dogs were found at the property, only five of whom were licensed. The property wasn’t zoned for kennels. FOX61.com reported that after the adopter had filed a complaint, the state Department of Agriculture determined that the “rescue” wasn’t a legally registered charity, didn’t have a license to operate a shelter, and couldn’t provide a health certificate for the dog, who had been acquired from North Carolina. A summons was issued requiring the operator to appear in court to face charges of operating a facility without a license, failing to provide dogs with medical exams, and importing dogs without a health certificate.

January 2018/Blairsville, Indiana: IndianaGazette.com reported that authorities had seized two horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Heart Felt Equine Rescue and charged its owner with 12 counts of neglect. According to the complaint, animals seized were “determined to be in eminent [sic] danger of dying within days to a week” and were found suffering from dehydration, rain rot (“a fungal infection due to not having access to shelter in wet weather”), malnourishment, and hoof neglect. Previously, two dead horses—a newborn and his or her mother—had been found in a field at the facility. Authorities had reportedly visited the property repeatedly in response to complaints and found no food, drinkable water, or shelter as well as other neglectful conditions.

January 2018/Ingham County, Michigan: WILX.com reported that approximately 30 animals had died in a fire while trapped in a single-family home with 10 to 15 others, hoarded by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as TJ’s Rescued Angels. Some animals had been so badly burned that authorities couldn’t immediately identify their species. A cat who was on fire was seen by a neighbor running from the home. It was thought that some animals may have survived because they’d been confined to a garage on the property. Authorities said that it was too early to determine whether criminal charges would be filed.

December 2017/Phoenix, Arizona: AZCentral.com reported that authorities had charged the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Mavyn Animal Rescue with cruelty to animals for failing to provide a dog with medical care. The charge was filed after an emaciated dog was removed from the facility and taken to an animal shelter, where she required treatment for valley fever, a fungal lung infection. She had been so badly neglected that her overgrown toenails “curled under her paws.” She also had to be put on a feeding schedule to gain weight and was found to be socially “extremely shut down.” Another dog who had also reportedly been removed from the “rescue” was taken to a veterinary hospital and euthanized because of the severity of his or her condition. AZFamily.com reported that the surviving dog was in such bad shape that she couldn’t stand after a woman “cut the kennel open and pulled” her out. The “rescue” claimed on its website that “it contracts with Maricopa and Pinal County animal control departments.” But the news article reported that “spokespeople for both agencies [said that] Mavyn Animal Rescue has been banned from adopting from their shelters after rumors and allegations of mistreatment of animals.” ABC15.com reported that “multiple rabbits” had also been “removed due to safety concerns.”

December 2017/Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania: LehighValleyLive.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 30 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Heaven on Earth Farm. Three calves were found “in a feces-spattered enclosure without access to food or water,” goats were suffering from such severe foot rot that they tried to walk on the joints of their legs, a “large number” of cats were found roaming with discharge draining from their eyes and noses, a tank of aquatic turtles was found in a barn with no heat source, and 35 pigs were found confined to a wood-sided pen with a tarp thrown over it. One pig had to be transported for emergency medical care. Two dogs were reportedly found covered from head to toe with burrs so matted into their fur that they had traveled down to the skin, and the “rescue” owner told authorities that it was too cold to go outside to provide them with needed grooming. The state Department of Health had previously temporarily shut down the facility after an outbreak of an intestinal parasite. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being considered.

December 2017/Colleyville, Texas: DallasNews.com reported that a 2-year-old boy had been mauled by a dog who was being publicly displayed for adoption by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Dallas Pets Alive. The boy’s mother said that she was told that all the dogs at the event were friendly, but one of them “literally dragged [the child] to the ground and would not let go.” The dog “was flailing him around” until four or five men intervened and pried the dog off him. One of the men reportedly punched the animal repeatedly in a failed effort to stop the attack. Authorities took custody of the dog for a quarantine period, after which it wasn’t known whether the animal would be given back to the “rescue.”

December 2017/Harris County, Texas: SETexasRecord.com reported that a woman had filed a lawsuit against a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Almost Home Pet Rescue, Inc.—as well as PetSmart and an individual—after a dog she’d adopted viciously attacked her son, causing “permanent, painful, impairing and disfiguring injuries to his body.” She alleged that the dog attacked the child without provocation while he was watching television, and she was seeking between $200,000 and $1 million “and all other appropriate relief.”

December 2017/Phoenix, Arizona: AZCentral.com reported that a volunteer at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Akita Advocates Relocation Team Arizona had been mauled to death at a boarding kennel where she was attempting “to socialize the animal to prepare [him or her] for adoption.” A worker at the facility saw the dog running loose, covered with blood, and found the volunteer severely injured. He called 911, and the woman was rushed to a hospital, where she died.

December 2017/Palm Beach County, Florida: MyPalmBeachPost.com reported that the number of cats abandoned at a local park had been increasing. One had been found with a microchip that was traced to a resident, who said that she’d asked her grandchildren to take the cat to the county animal shelter, but they had instead left the animal at the park. Two years earlier, Sun-Sentinel.com reported that the shelter was making it more difficult for people to surrender dogs and cats, including by requiring appointments and waiting periods. Owners who lacked proof of current vaccinations would also be required to pay $30 for vaccinations and take animals home for 10 days to two weeks before the shelter would even consider accepting them.

December 2017/Spartanburg, South Carolina: WSPA.com reported that a dog who’d been adopted from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Daddio Collective in California had been found wandering around a recycling center, emaciated and barely able to walk. The adult pit bull weighed 34 pounds and was “skin and bones, her toe-nails were so grown into her feet she could hardly walk, [and] she could hardly lift herself up,” according to a shelter spokesperson. She said that the case “was one of the worst animal neglect cases she has ever seen,” according to the outlet. The dog was receiving treatment, but it wasn’t reported whether authorities were investigating.

December 2017/Midland, Texas: CBS7.com reported that 14 dogs had been found dead at the abandoned home of a former employee of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Dust Bowl Animal Rescue. Some of the badly decayed bodies were found locked in crates, and others were discovered in multiple areas of the house. A neighbor said that there had been no human activity at the home for six months. Authorities investigated, and it was later reported that they had arrested the homeowner at an airport when she disembarked a flight from another state. Sixteen warrants for “cruelty to animals–torture” had been issued in connection with the case. DallasNews.com reported that bank representatives had discovered the remains when they went to serve a foreclosure notice at the home and that the county sheriff had told the Houston Chronicle, “This is the worst case I’ve ever seen. … The stench from the feces was horrible. They were just bones and hair.”

December 2017/Ocean Springs, Mississippi: SunHerald.com reported that cats were being abandoned at sites where people had been feeding colonies of homeless ones. One of the feeders said, “At the colonies, they just throw them out. We’ve seen them throw them out the window of a car.” She said that cats were likely being abandoned there “because to take them to the county animal shelter, it costs you a $30 surrender fee.”

December 2017/Montrose, Pennsylvania: WNEP.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Fall in Ruv, Inc., had been charged with theft by deception. She was “accused of taking in more than $7,000 in donations and using more than $5,000 of that on herself.” Her former landlords also said that she had destroyed their property while illegally operating a kennel. After they evicted her, they found damage that included a “carpet [that] was absolutely saturated with urine” and dog waste covering the floor of the basement. SusqCoIndy.com reported that in March, she had pleaded guilty to offenses that included operating a kennel without a license and failing to keep a kennel in a sanitary and humane condition.

December 2017/Deerpark, New York: Westchester.News12.com reported that the former director of a limited-admission animal “shelter” doing business as the Humane Society of Port Jervis/Deerpark said that the facility’s board of directors “is telling staff to turn a blind eye to a dog’s violent history, instead adopting out the animal as if there’s no problem.” She said that she knew of at least two dogs available for adoption who had bitten people, that a dog who was up for adoption had attacked her, and that an adopted dog had bitten a 3-year-old child on the face, causing “severe damage.”

December 2017/Howell Township, Michigan: LivingstonDaily.com reported that authorities had seized approximately 120 dogs and cats and an unspecified number of birds from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Last Chance Animal Rescue. WHMI.com reported that two search warrants had been issued, one for the “rescue” and another for the private residence of someone affiliated with it, because of “unsanitary conditions and animals [who] required medical care.” Authorities were filing a report with the prosecutor’s office and were “looking at violations under state cruelty and neglect laws.” WLNS.com reported that the county’s animal control director said that animals found at the facility “were not living in sanitary conditions, there were way too many animals, they were not being … cared for properly because there were so many of them and so little staff,” and that some—including cats with upper respiratory infections—were denied needed veterinary care.

December 2017/Port St. Lucie, Florida: CBS12.com reported that authorities had seized five dogs from the former owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Loving Hands Pit Bull Rescue. She was charged with five counts of cruelty to animals after the dogs were found apparently abandoned at her home. They were emaciated, covered with “sores and bugs,” and living in filth, including in boxes and garbage. One dog was found trapped in a bathroom and another confined to a bedroom. Dogs had evidently been trying to chew through walls in the home to escape. Microchips in the dogs were reportedly registered to a boarding facility doing business as Animal Kingdom Doggy Motel and Rescue, which admitted to allowing Loving Hands to use its name to remove animals from a Miami shelter. A police department affidavit reported that veterinary examinations on the seized dogs revealed that they suffered from severe conditions, including chronic malnutrition, emaciation, severe muscle atrophy, dental disease, scars and dermal masses, bacterial skin infections and skin ulcers, a chronic tail injury, flea infestations, eye problems, and chronic hookworm infestations that caused “constant explosive diarrhea.”

December 2017/Kenner, Louisiana: NOLA.com reported that a dog who had been adopted after spending three months at an animal shelter operated by the Jefferson SPCA had attacked and seriously injured the adopter’s 5-year-old boy. The child had to be hospitalized for “multiple bites on his face and chest that required stitches,” and the dog had to be quarantined. TheAdvocate.com reported that the attack occurred less than two hours after the family brought the dog home.

December 2017/Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: CBC.ca reported that concerns had been raised about practices at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Big and Small Rescue Society, including that it doesn’t assess dogs for dangerous behavior or screen potential adopters or foster homes and that it charges inconsistent fees for adoption—some as high as $700 per dog. The group reportedly imported dogs from shelters in other areas, including California and Mexico. It was also reportedly “named in court documents from 2016 that allege it has not paid bills to three veterinary clinics.” A vet told CBC News that “he offered his services at a ‘significantly’ discounted fee but is now owed more than $20,000.” A woman who adopted a dog from the “rescue” said that the animal attacked her longtime canine companion on three separate occasions. The facility refused to take the dog back and told her to “explore other options on her own.” Another woman went to view a puppy at an associated foster home, which she described as “disgusting.” “There was a mattress in the middle of the living room,” she said. “[T]here was pee and poo and dirty newspapers all over the floor, and he was very sick [with] a respiratory infection.” A lack of rules and regulations for “rescue societies” in the province was cited as problematic.

December 2017/Highland Township, Michigan: Freep.com reported that two dogs who had been adopted from a “humane society” in Pennsylvania had attacked and seriously injured a 7-year-old girl. The child’s family had reportedly kept seven dogs they’d acquired from animal shelters inside a pen in their backyard. The girl was mauled by two of them when she opened the pen’s gate. She sustained deep wounds to the neck and was “struggling to breathe when paramedics arrived.” Her mother also sustained a serious bite when she intervened to stop the attack. The child was airlifted to a hospital, where she was admitted in critical condition with serious injuries to her neck and trachea. Authorities took one of the dogs into custody, one escaped, and the family signed over four of those who remained. HometownLife.com later reported that the girl’s father shot and killed the dog who had escaped.

November 2017/Cornwall, Ontario, Canada: Standard-Freeholder.com reported that a spokesperson for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Humane Society, which apparently requires waiting periods and lists before accepting animals, had told city leaders, “We have people coming into our shelter, throwing cats through the door and leaving because our lists are so long that we can’t accommodate people when we need to.” It was also reported that approximately 40 percent of cats admitted to the shelter suffered from disease or injury.

November 2017/Bronxville, New York: Westchester.News12.com reported that six cats had died in a fire at a single-family home that was reportedly being used to operate an animal “rescue.” The homeowners said that approximately 30 cats had been confined and became trapped in the home. Firefighters rescued the surviving cats, and an initial investigation determined that the fire had likely started in a bedroom.

November 2017/Moreauville, Louisiana: KALB.com reported that because local turn-away shelters were full or refused to accept animals from outside their communities, authorities had to leave seven dogs and two cats who had been abandoned by their owners at a vacant home. Officials were investigating the case and left food and water for the animals.

November 2017/Phoenix, Oregon: KOBI5.com reported that because local turn-away shelters were full or refused to take cats who aren’t well socialized, approximately 70 cats, many with “serious medical issues,” who were abandoned at a vacant home when their owners were evicted had been left at the property. An attorney representing the cats’ owners had reportedly contacted a “nuisance wildlife trapper” who was feeding the animals but was “having a hard time getting help for the cats.”

November 2017/Columbia County, Oregon: PamplinMedia.com reported that authorities were investigating a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as All Terrier Rescue, Hunters Crossing Inc., which had been operating an unlicensed kennel at a private home. The group reportedly hoarded “anywhere from 50 to 100 dogs at any given time,” and authorities had been receiving complaints about it “for years.” It was later reported that the state Department of Justice had an “ongoing investigation” into the “rescue’s” financial records.

November 2017/Lubbock, Texas: KCBD.com reported that authorities had seized 28 dogs, 20 cats, two chickens, and a lizard from a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found inside a filthy home where the odor was so strong that it “took the breath of several adults” who responded to the scene. Some of the animals were also malnourished. An investigator said that animal feces were found encrusted in carpets and on children’s beds and bedding throughout the house. The home also contained “trash, dirt … debris … mosquitos, gnats and flies.” The “rescuer” said that she’d become overwhelmed and “reached out several times to different shelters and asked them to come pick up their animals. She said she agreed to take the animals in temporarily but it became permanent.” Three adopted children were also removed from the home, and the “rescuer” was charged with child endangerment.

November 2017/Castle Rock, Colorado: Denver.CBSLocal.com reported that an investigation had determined that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Douglas County Canine Rescue had purchased and resold 24 dogs and puppies whom the group had obtained at a breeder and puppy mill auction in Missouri. When contacted about its support of puppy mills, an attorney representing the group reportedly said, “I don’t think a lot of people understand … a lot of other rescues do this, too.” The investigation found that another self-professed “rescue” doing business as Waggin’ Tails Canine Rescue Colorado had also purchased puppies from puppy mill auctions.

November 2017/The Dalles, Oregon: TheDallesChronicle.com reported that Janna Hage, the temporary director hired to improve conditions at a turn-away shelter doing business as Home at Last Humane Society, had resigned. She cited micromanagement by the board of directors that had resulted in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, including hoarding dogs and releasing those who had bitten an “appallingly large” number of shelter staff and attacked adopters and foster caregivers. One dog had been involved in three separate bite incidents after being adopted. Hage said that dogs had also been stored inside crates in two sheds on the property and only taken out for brief breaks, cats were infested with parasites and infected with ringworm, the facility was “absolutely filthy” with little to no building upkeep, and written cleaning procedures were completely ignored.

November 2017/Pensacola, Florida: WEARTV.com reported that 11 cats had died in a fire at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Animal Allies Florida. They had been in an unoccupied home when the fire broke out. A 12th cat was missing. CBS12.com reported that the cause of the fire had not yet been determined.

October 2017/Henderson County, North Carolina: BlueRidgeNow.com reported that authorities had seized nine animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as  Sandi’s For the Love of Paws and charged the owner with cruelty to animals for allegedly “intentionally tormenting and depriving three dogs of necessary sustenance.” The sheriff’s office had visited the “rescue” after receiving several complaints about the condition of the animals. No additional details were given about their condition.

September 2017/Oswego County, New York: Syracuse.com reported that authorities and neighbors were concerned about approximately 50 animals in the custody of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Hooves, Claws and Paws. The animals were allegedly kept on an uninhabited 1-acre property that lacked running water. They were confined to small, makeshift pens that were covered with “[s]crap wood, pallets, tarps and patio umbrellas.” Neighbors said that they could hear animals crying at all hours of the night. Authorities weren’t allowed on the property, but from the road, an official observed a “horse … so thin I can see his ribs, and the sheep’s wool is so thick [he or she] can barely walk. … There are two dog kennels full of ducks and they didn’t seem to have a source of water.” If the “rescue” owner wouldn’t allow a veterinarian to inspect the animals, authorities planned to seek a search warrant. SpectrumLocalNews.com later reported that 38 animals, including chickens and goats, had been surrendered to authorities and that some required veterinary treatment. Approximately 40 animals remained at the “rescue,” and authorities were concerned that they lacked adequate shelter. Officials planned to revisit with veterinarians as temperatures dropped.

September 2017/Sebastian County, Arkansas: NWAHomepage.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Sebastian County Humane Society had “[n]early 1,000 animals” confined “literally everywhere at the shelter.” Crates were stacked in lobbies and office areas at the facility, which was designed to house 500 animals. The facility was also   experiencing a high rate of returned adopted animals and was reconsidering its “no-kill” policy.

August 2017/Bedford, New Hampshire: UnionLeader.com reported that a dog who was unable to use his rear legs and had infections in both ears, progressive dental disease, overgrown toenails, and possible spinal problems was the fourth to be abandoned outside the community’s turn-away facility during the month of August. He had to be euthanized because of the severity of his condition. Also in August, a cat was found abandoned in a carrier, a guinea pig was left in a cage, and another dog was left tied to the door at the facility.

August 2017/Lewis County, Washington: Chronline.com reported that a county animal shelter employee and her supervisor were facing criminal penalties after they allegedly changed the name of a dog whom a judge had deemed dangerous and adopted him out to a new home without disclosing his background. The adopter allowed the dog to roam unsupervised and eventually gave him to her son. Authorities seized the dog, who was returned to the shelter, and a court date was set.

August 2017/Prescott Valley, Arizona: AZFamily.com reported that authorities had found decomposing dead animals at the rented home of a woman who’d moved. Records on a majority of the dogs indicated that she had adopted them. The dead animals included 10 chicks in a plastic storage container next to a trash can, five chickens behind a shed, two dogs wrapped in a shower curtain inside a trash can, two rabbits inside a cage in the home, a dog confined to a feces-covered crate, and a dog lying in feces and stale urine inside a cardboard box in a shed. The odor in the house was so noxious that workers had to wear respirators. A detective said that scratch and bite marks were found on a door frame inside a bathroom covered with feces, indicating that a dog had likely been trapped inside and frantically tried to escape. The woman was arrested on 21 counts of cruelty to animals.

August 2017/Middletown, Ohio: FOX19.com reported that authorities had seized a dozen sick, malnourished, and flea-infested animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Broken Wingz Animal Rescue. Dogs were also suffering from “lesions [and] bloody stool.” Three kittens and two puppies were in such critical condition that they had to be euthanized. A woman who’d given the “rescuer” some kittens reported that when she returned to the home to try to get them back, she saw 10 dead puppies in the basement and two live puppies who were “dying.” She removed two other puppies who were so infested with fleas that they were “coming from their mouths,” and she spent $700 on veterinary care for them. The “rescuer” was charged with cruelty to animals and temporarily ordered not to take in any more animals. A court date was set.

August 2017/DeSoto County, Mississippi: WREG.com reported that authorities were investigating conditions at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as North Mississippi Great Dane Rescue after receiving complaints involving “animal hoarding and sick, flea-infested dogs forced to live in their own filth” as well as dead animals at the property. A board member of the “rescue” had reportedly announced “that she was ‘immediately resigning’ after witnessing nearly two dozen dogs living in … ‘horrendous’ conditions.” She said that the dogs hadn’t been socialized and were aggressive, sick, and locked in a home with torn-up furniture that was “drenched in feces and urine.” LocalMemphis.com reported that the “rescue” owner didn’t live at the home, where it was believed that at least 18 dogs and 40 chickens were being kept, and more dogs were believed to be at another home several miles away. Memphis Animal Services reportedly suspended an adoption agreement with the “rescue,” and authorities had begun taking steps to remove the animals. WREG.com later reported that the “rescue” had been shut down and that the owner had surrendered 10 dogs and a cat. Additional dogs had reportedly been “placed in other homes.” It wasn’t reported what happened to the chickens. Authorities hadn’t decided whether to pursue criminal charges.

August 2017/Glenrock, Wyoming: Trib.com reported that authorities had seized 20 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found suffering from ailments, including dehydration, malnutrition, and skin and dental conditions. Authorities said that the “rescue” owner had been cited in June for cruelty to animals because of similar conditions at the home, and charges were pending in the recent case. She agreed to close the “rescue.”

August 2017/Deschutes County, Oregon: BendBulletin.com reported that a grand jury had indicted the founders of a self-professed animal “rescue and rehabilitation” facility doing business as High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on 20 counts of cruelty to animals, 19 counts of animal neglect, and three counts of wildlife-law violations. Animals seized from the “rescue” were reportedly “in poor condition,” and some had to be euthanized. A former volunteer alleged that bird enclosures were too small and that birds had died at the “rescue” from starvation and dehydration. The business was shut down.

August 2017/Rice County, Minnesota: SouthernMinn.com reported that authorities had charged the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as SAFE Sanctuary with five felonies—two counts of theft by swindle and three counts of filing false tax returns. An investigation revealed that she had allegedly “funneled more than $70,000 in funds intended for SAFE to her personal accounts” and failed to report income from the “rescue” on her tax returns. Payments were found to have been issued for student loans, personal grooming services, clothing, furniture, and online gaming. She was also alleged to have purchased $6,000 worth of personal items from an online company and paid herself $7,000 while claiming that the “rescue” hadn’t compensated her. The “rescue” was ordered to dissolve, and a court date was set.

August 2017/Denver, Colorado: 9News.com reported that authorities had seized 35 dogs from a woman who told investigators that she fostered animals for a “rescue.” Twelve dead dogs were also found at the home where “dogs lived in a feces-infested environment with urine-soaked floors.” An earlier report revealed that the home was so filthy that an investigator had to wear protective gear before conducting a search. The “rescuer” was charged with 35 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and 12 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Surviving dogs required medical treatment, including surgeries to allow them to breathe more easily, dental procedures to remove rotten and painful teeth, giardia and deworming treatments, medication for severe ear and skin infections, surgeries to treat infected eyes, and treatment for bite wounds. Westword.com reported that the “rescuer” had told a neighbor that she worked with a self-professed “‘no-kill’ shelter” doing business as MaxFund, Inc./MaxFund Animal Adoption Center.

August 2017/South Burlington, Vermont: MyNBC5.com reported that authorities had found a kitten with a broken leg as well as discharge seeping from his eyes tied up inside a plastic bag in a trash container at an apartment complex. Local residents helped track down his owners, a couple who told authorities that they couldn’t afford veterinary care for the kitten and didn’t have transportation or the fees required to take him to the local animal shelter. He was taken to a veterinary hospital, where it was determined that the broken leg had been caused by severe trauma. The owners were charged with cruelty to animals. At a hearing, a judge ordered one of the defendants to “get rid of all his pets by the end of the day” and set an October court date.

August 2017/Riverside County, California: PE.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Second Hand Souls Animal Rescue and Animal Actors had been arrested and charged with six counts of felony grand theft, one count of operating a business without a valid permit, and failing to file taxes. She had allegedly advertised unborn horses for sale, entered into contractual agreements with buyers, collected between $5,000 and $6,500 for each horse, and never delivered the animals. She’d also recently completed probation in a case in which she’d acted as a “horse broker” and entered into fraudulent contracts with buyers, according to the report.

August 2017/Belmont County, Ohio: WTOV9.com reported that because the county animal shelter was “no-kill” and had run out of room for cats, it would no longer accept them. TimesLeaderOnline.com reported that all area shelters were full and also turning away cats. A concerned local police chief said, “We get calls all the time about cats, and there’s nothing that the city can do. … [W]e have no place to take them to since the animal shelter’s not taking them any longer.” He continued, “We’ve had people who have died and had cats in the house. We’ve had people that were in the hospital, and they’ve had cats in the house.”

August 2017/Greenup County, Kentucky: WSAZ.com reported that authorities had seized 40 dogs from a self-professed “animal rescue” after they were discovered in poor condition. They were found infested with parasites in small kennels and cages that contained feces, dead rats, and flies. Thirty of the dogs were taken to a veterinary hospital for treatment. The owner apparently agreed to stop taking in animals and close the “rescue.” No charges were being pursued.

August 2017/Ripley County, Missouri: STLToday.com reported that authorities had seized 23 puppies, 11 cats, and four adult dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found in the “rescuer’s” filthy home. Carpeting in rooms where cats were confined had “completely deteriorated and was soaked in urine and feces,” according to a first responder. Dogs were found confined to a urine-soaked room with concrete floors and feces smeared all over the walls. Puppies were found suffering from broken teeth and infected wounds. Investigators had to wear respirators to enter the home. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being pursued.

July 2017/Hopewell, Virginia: NBC12.com reported that a self-professed “animal rescue” doing business as Forgotten Tails, Inc., had adopted out three kittens who were so sick that their new guardian had to spend more than $2,500 on veterinary care. After adopting them, she took them to a veterinarian who told her that they “had not been adequately treated for fleas and parasites.” She had them treated for parasites, including coccidia and fleas, and respiratory infections. The news outlet reported that it had received confirmation from the local municipal shelter, Richmond Animal Care and Control, that it had decided to stop working with the “rescue” because of “issues it had” with it.

July 2017/Keller, Texas: FOX4News.com reported that authorities had seized 27 dogs and 84 cats from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found in stifling temperatures without access to air conditioning or water. Responding authorities found a van in the home’s driveway that wasn’t running and contained 14 crates full of animals. The temperature outside was in the mid-90s. Eighty-four cats were found in a hot garage that lacked air conditioning. A first responder said, “There was no water in any of the water buckets. The litter boxes had zero litter. It was just feces that was in them [sic].” Authorities said that they’d seized animals from the same person three different times, including from another property in Fort Worth. They were also investigating reports that someone went to the Fort Worth home to remove animals late on the night of the raid in Keller. The “rescuer” had reportedly obtained the animals from animal shelters. FOX4News.com later reported that the “rescuer” had been charged with cruelty to animals. During a hearing, it was revealed that the temperature in the garage had been 109 degrees and that animals had been found emaciated and infested with internal and external parasites. A detective reported that during the raid, the “rescuer” had been seen “pushing and tossing cats out of her back door.” Custody of the animals was awarded to the Humane Society of North Texas.

July 2017/Seattle, Washington: KIRO7.com reported that authorities had seized 17 cats, a dozen reptiles and small mammals, 10 birds, and a boa constrictor from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Missy’s Rescue, which had been operating out of a pet shop doing business as Animal Talk.  A search warrant filed in connection with the case alleged that dozens of animals who were “suffering or in physical pain” had been housed in conditions described as “filthy” and “crowded.” Kittens were reportedly “emaciated,” and some animals were ill or had open wounds. Authorities said that they’d received multiple complaints against the business alleging that it had failed to provide animals with veterinary care and had kept them in severely crowded, unsanitary conditions. The owner faced potential gross misdemeanor charges.

July 2017/Lake County, Florida: Villages-News.com reported that authorities had seized seven malnourished horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Kings Cove Horse Rescue/Hay Baby LLC after the owner failed to comply with a plan to improve their health and weight. She was arrested and charged with seven counts of cruelty to animals. OrlandoSentinel.com reported that an affidavit revealed that the horses had been rated on a body- condition scoring system, which rates a healthy horse at 9 and a very emaciated horse at 1, and two of them “rated a zero, starved to the point where their skin is stretched over their bone structure.” One had reportedly been rated a 1 and the rest a 2. A veterinary exam found that the condition of the horses “is not attributed to age nor to obvious illness but to being deprived [of] adequate food and nutrition.”

July 2017/Ferndale, Washington: DiscoverFerndale.com reported that a 9-year-old boy had sustained puncture wounds around his face after he was attacked by a dog whom his family had recently adopted from the Whatcom Humane Society (WHS). The dog had reportedly been surrendered to the WHS after biting another child and was then adopted to the boy’s family. The boy was transported to a medical center for treatment, and the dog was quarantined. After the quarantine period, it was expected that he’d be euthanized.

July 2017/Converse, Texas: News4SanAntonio.com reported that authorities had seized 46 horses from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as Schwartz Farms after receiving complaints that horses were starving and not getting needed veterinary care. Previous employees said that horses rarely, if ever, received any type of veterinary care and that some had lost as much as 100 pounds in the first month that they were on the property. Others had allegedly starved to death. After visiting the farm, the sheriff noted that the horses’ water supply was sometimes scarce and what food was provided was nutritionally inadequate. “To see some of the conditions that these animals are in, even versus what they were in 2 weeks ago, to see the degradation and the health, it’s heartbreaking,” he said. Authorities were investigating cruelty-to-animals complaints as well as possible “white collar crimes” because of the “sanctuary’s” nonprofit status.

July 2017/Bicknell, Indiana: USNews.com reported that four dogs and three cats had been killed in a fire that started in the kitchen of a home being operated as a self-professed animal shelter doing business as North Knox Animal Shelter. A dog who was apparently kept outside survived.

July 2017/Wilson County, North Carolina: WilsonTimes.com reported that the cofounder of a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as For the Love of Dogs, Inc., and a teenage volunteer had been attacked by two dogs who were known to be dangerous. They had attacked a volunteer and her young son at the “rescue” just months before. (See the April 2017/Wilson County, North Carolina, entry below.) The 17-year-old volunteer sustained large lacerations and puncture wounds throughout her body, and the “rescue’s” cofounder sustained severe injuries to her arms. Both were transported by ambulance to the hospital. The dogs were quarantined and were expected to be euthanized after the quarantine period ended.

June 2017/Bay County, Michigan: MLive.com reported that in a plan to increase its adoption statistics, the Bay County Animal Control Shelter announced that it would accept kittens and cats only by appointment. “If the shelter is already at capacity, meaning its 75 cat cages are occupied, callers’ names will be added to a wait list,” the news report stated. The shelter would also no longer loan out box traps for people to use to rescue homeless cats or capture those who are perceived to be a nuisance.

June 2017/Davenport, Iowa: OurQuadCities.com reported that authorities found around 60 cats in a single-car garage, including some who were anemic and underweight, suffering from eye and respiratory infections, and infested with fleas and other parasites. Cats at the property were also breeding, and some were pregnant. The community’s self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter was able to take 24 of the cats, but “25 or more” had been left in the “horrific” hoarding situation because the shelter was then full.

June 2017/Belvidere, Illinois: MyStateLine.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill animal rescue” doing business as Fresh Start Animal Rescue, Inc., had shut down because of the “deplorable conditions” in which animals had been housed there. Eighty-five animals had reportedly died at the “rescue” in the previous year, and rooms were found with “ripped walls” and filthy floors and were covered with mold. Animals with “major health issue[s]” had been adopted, and many people who’d brought dogs home from the “rescue” said that the animals had died despite thousands of dollars spent on needed veterinary treatments. WIFR.com reported that dogs had been kept in grooming cages at the property, which allowed animals enough room only to stand, turn around, and lie down. “Giant holes” were found in the walls of some rooms, apparently created by animals who had “tried to claw themselves out.” It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being pursued.

June 2017/Ripley County, Missouri: STLToday.com reported that authorities had seized 23 puppies, 11 cats, and four adult dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found in the “rescuer’s” filthy home. Carpeting in rooms where cats were confined had “completely deteriorated and was soaked in urine and feces,” according to a first responder. Dogs were found confined to a urine-soaked room with concrete floors and feces smeared all over the walls. Puppies were found suffering from broken teeth and infected wounds. Investigators had to wear respirators to enter the home. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being pursued.

June 2017/Cleveland, Texas: 12NewsNow.com reported that authorities had seized 67 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found stacked in small, dirty cages inside a home or roaming the house, which had feces-smeared walls and urine-soaked floors. Many of the animals were in need of medical treatment for illnesses, including skin conditions, hair loss, upper respiratory infections, and growths or tumors. It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being pursued. 

June 2017/Virginia Beach, Virginia: SouthsideDaily.com reported that former employees of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Forever Home Rescue and Rehabilitation Center had alleged that animals were kept in cruel conditions and regularly abused. The allegations came after a dog fatally attacked a woman within hours of being adopted from the business. When adopted, the dog had been wearing an electric shock collar and attacked the new guardian when it was removed. One former employee said that the “rescue” “owners abused the shock collars pretty badly.” “They would hold the button down … until the dog was just screaming at the top of [his or her] lungs,” he said. He also said that the owners would pour buckets of water over dogs and then confine them “in crates for hours.” Dogs who soiled their crates had allegedly been forced to sit in their waste to punish them. Another former employee claimed that the owners “would take sticks and poke at them or hit them” and that one dog had been hit “repeatedly with a metal broom handle … until it broke.” A third former employee said that dogs at the “rescue” had been confined around the clock to rusty crates except for five-minute walks in the morning and evening. PilotOnline.com reported that authorities had executed search warrants at two of the “rescue’s” locations, but no charges had been filed. One of the locations was cited by city officials for violating fire, property-maintenance, zoning, and storm-water codes. The “rescue” was reportedly ordered to reduce the number of animals on the property to no more than four dogs. The report also revealed that both operators of the “rescue” had previously been charged with felony embezzlement and had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge after they were caught stealing supplies from a veterinary hospital.

June 2017/Bloomington, Minnesota: CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized 37 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Luv Me Again Animal Rescue after they were found in a warehouse confined to cages and plastic travel carriers—some housing multiple animals—in filthy conditions and without water. The “rescue” owner was arrested “on probable cause of animal neglect.” 

June 2017/Los Angeles County, California: HometownStation.com reported that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office had issued a warning about an animal shelter scam: “In the animal shelter scam, crooks will post pictures of the animals with false information about ‘high kill’ shelters and imminent death unless they immediately receive money to rescue the pets,” a news release reportedly stated. It warned that hustlers commonly ask people online to look at a picture of a dog in a cage and donate money to shelter organizations, but money raised didn’t “go to the care of the animal, the sheltering agencies or to the adopting organizations.”

June 2017/Covington, Tennessee: WREG.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Passion for Pits Rescue and her boyfriend had been charged with cruel confinement of an animal. The charges were filed after authorities witnessed the couple leaving a dog confined to a wire crate on a flatbed trailer for 30 minutes in the full sun without access to shade or water. It was believed that the dog had been transported under these conditions for approximately 35 miles. Memphis Animal Services (MAS) reportedly suspended its placement partnership with the “rescue” after the facility noted a high number of animals being released to it and inspecting the property. Inspectors believed that there were more than 100 dogs at the property and found that water buckets were empty, kennels had a buildup of feces in them, and dogs were underweight and shivering. MAS was reportedly revamping its placement partnership program and would require “rescues” to reapply to work with the agency. An earlier report included that some dogs at the “rescue” had been found with open wounds and that the owner had opened another “rescue” in Mississippi. A court date was set to hear the criminal complaint.

June 2017/Wildomar, California: PE.com reported that authorities had seized six cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Oak Meadows Ranch Horse Rescue and Sanctuary after they were found living in “horrible conditions.” The animals were found in a shed with little ventilation that appeared to have not been cleaned for months. A responding officer said, “There were two litter boxes in there overflowing. There was feces covering the floor. . . . We could not breathe in there. I don’t know how these cats were breathing.” It wasn’t reported whether criminal charges were being pursued. 

May 2017/Henderson County, Tennessee: FOX17.com reported that authorities had seized 47 dogs and 16 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” after they were found in “deplorable” conditions. Dogs were found chained up outside without access to food or potable water and suffering from “dental damage.” Feces and urine covered the inside of a “dilapidated trailer” on the property, where dogs and cats were found in “unimaginable conditions.” Ammonia levels were dangerously toxic, and dogs were dehydrated, infested with ticks and fleas, and suffering from illnesses and untreated injuries. Cats were infected with upper respiratory and eye infections, dehydrated, and suffering from untreated medical conditions. WBBJTV.com reported that the “rescuer” faced 64 misdemeanor and one felony count of cruelty to animals.

May 2017/Kennesaw, Georgia: AJC.com reported that authorities had seized 13 dogs from an animal “foster home” after conditions in the home were deemed unsafe. First responders had to wear masks and protective clothing because of high ammonia levels. Their “throat[s] and lungs all burned while walking along the wooden floors buckled by moisture and by the dog feces lying next to bedding soaked with urine. Wetness seeped out of the second floor onto the walls of the downstairs area.” One of the dogs was being “fostered” for a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Refuge Rescue, Inc. The owner said that the group had placed “eight or nine dogs” in the home during a period of six months. The homeowner was charged with two counts of cruelty to animals for each dog.

May 2017/Beeville, Texas: KIIITV.com reported that a volunteer at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pet Assistance Association, Inc., had expressed concerns about the treatment of animals there. “They are left out here alone, unsupervised, by themselves in extreme weather conditions,” she said. “You know this was Texas heat, 100 degrees outside.” She said that the water that was available to the dogs was filthy, that food was simply dumped over the top of the kennels—often in pens contaminated with feces—and that animals were infested with fleas. Authorities were investigating.

May 2017/Berne, New York: AltamontEnterprise.com reported that authorities had seized 17 goats, approximately 15 chickens, five pigs, five sheep, four dogs, three horses, and two cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as D&W Farm and Animal Rescue after they were found without food, water, or adequate shelter. TimesUnion.com reported that the county sheriff said, “Mud and muck was halfway up the horse’s [sic] legs and the pigs had nowhere to lay [sic]  …. The pigs were literally fighting over the fresh water.” He also said that other animals were fighting over small amounts of food and shelter. Three of the pigs were pregnant. WNYT.com reported that “animals were hungry, thirsty, without bedding and some infected with fleas and ticks.” The horses were “severely underweight,” their teeth had been neglected, and their hooves were “highly sensitive from living in the muck,” according to an investigator. The owner was charged with multiple counts of failure to provide sustenance.

May 2017/Salisbury, North Carolina: SalisburyPost.com reported that authorities had seized multiple dogs from the home of a well-known self-professed “animal advocate” after they were found living in horrendous conditions. During welfare checks, six dogs were found in a pen full of feces, animals were determined to be either malnourished or grossly overweight, and the only water available “was a plastic kiddie pool that contained dirty green water, sticks and leaves.” Neighbors complained of a strong odor coming from the property, and one said that she’d seen a dead dog in the yard a few months before the seizure. Investigators required respirators in order to enter the home. WBTV.com reported that two malnourished dogs at the property “had maggots eating the hair and flesh on their skin” and that a dog required immediate medical assistance after he or she was found scratching uncontrollably with large patches of fur missing from thickened skin covered with open wounds. Four dead cats were also found inside the home. An investigation was ongoing.

May 2017/Bibb County, Georgia: Macon.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” had been charged with theft by conversion in connection with soliciting and accepting donations to “rescue” dogs but not giving the funds to licensed organizations. Additional charges were expected, and authorities were asking anyone with information related to the case to come forward.

April 2017/Flemington, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that the owner and operator of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Catnip Friends Rescue had been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals. It was the second time in 18 months that she’d been charged with cruelty to animals. (See the December 2015/Hunterdon County, New Jersey, entry.) The recent charges were filed in connection to a dog who had been adopted from the “rescue” and diagnosed by a veterinarian as suffering from a flea infestation, hookworms, tapeworms, and kennel cough. The “rescue” had reportedly sold her in a parking lot and had attempted to hide the flea infestation and hair loss by putting a jacket on her.

April 2017/Riverside, Missouri: KSHB.com reported that authorities had seized 50 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Street Cats Rescue after they were found hoarded inside cages in the building, which smelled strongly of urine and feces. Eight of the cats were in such poor health that they had to be euthanized, and 20 were suffering from parasite infestations. Authorities also found fire code violations in the building, and the “rescuer” had been operating the “rescue” without a  permit. She faced at least one count of animal neglect.

April 2017/Laconia, New Hampshire: UnionLeader.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Live and Let Live Farm, Inc., had been sued by a man who’d been severely injured in an attack by a dog he’d fostered for it. The lawsuit alleged that that “rescue” was aware of and failed to disclose the dog’s “vicious or aggressive tendencies.” The plaintiff sustained bite wounds to both hands, a large laceration to his wrist, and a fracture in the middle of his hand. He was out of work for four months and hadn’t yet regained full use of his hands. He had undergone two surgeries and would require a third. It wasn’t reported what happened to the dog.

April 2017/Carmel-by-the-Sea, California: KSBW.com reported that the California attorney general had filed a civil lawsuit seeking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars from a self-professed horse “rescue” doing business as Central Coast Equine Rescue and Retirement. The lawsuit alleged that the “rescue” ran raffles and spent the donated proceeds on personal expenses, which included “spending $10,000 at a hunting store, buying cars, shopping at Victoria’s Secret and Nordstrom, paying off personal credit card debts, traveling, and restaurant bills.” The operators had reportedly raised $782,434 between 2014 and 2015, and “[n]one of the money was ever used for equine therapy [or] saving horses’ lives.”

April 2017/Cabot, Pennsylvania: TribLive.com reported that the president and founder of a self-professed horse “rescue” doing business as Equine Angels Rescue, Inc., had pleaded guilty to mail fraud and filing a false tax return. She reportedly spent at least $18,700 in donated funds on personal expenses and reported her compensation from the “rescue” as $46,877 in 2013 when it was actually $93,606.

April 2017/Putnam County, West Virginia: WSAZ.com reported that authorities had seized 116 animals from an unlicensed self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as A&A Farm after they were found without food and in need of medical treatment. The animals included 76 chickens, 20 rabbits, six horses, three dogs, two pheasants, a peacock, and a goat. At least eight dead animals were also recovered, including two rabbits found in a fire pit. A witness also said that she’d seen the “rescue” owner beating a horse. He was charged with 19 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of failing to spay a female dog, as required by the animal shelter from which she’d been adopted.

April 2017/Westminster, Maryland: WBALTV.com reported that authorities had seized 11  dogs and a cat from the president and founder of an alleged nonprofit doing business as Animal Advocates of Carroll Co., MD, Inc., which claimed “to promote the humane treatment of animals” and shelter adoptions, “with the goal of increasing the live release rate of animals from our local animal shelter.” Authorities were alerted by a veterinarian who’d examined a cat in the group’s custody. The animal was found by a responding officer at the president’s home in a dirty carrier, cold to the touch, with labored breathing and open wounds, and suffering from “a very infected-looking wound that had a discharge coming from it and open wounds on the rear legs.” The cat was in such bad shape that he or she had to be euthanized. The dogs were found in unsanitary conditions in the home, which was described as “filthy” and “cluttered” and reeked of urine and feces. Most of the dogs tested positive for severe whipworm infestations, and one was locked in a cage so small that the animal couldn’t move. The woman was charged with several counts of cruelty to animals and one count of obstructing and hindering.

April 2017/Long Island, New York: ABC7NY.com reported that the New York attorney general and local authorities were investigating a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Friends of Freddie Pet Rescue after dogs that had been adopted from it had been diagnosed with serious, contagious illnesses or had died. One adopted puppy was diagnosed with pneumonia and distemper and had to be euthanized because of the severity of her condition. Another required hospitalization the day after he was adopted, and he died a month later from distemper. A third adopted dog had to be taken immediately to a veterinary hospital, where she was diagnosed with eight different parasites, kennel cough, and an upper respiratory infection. Newsday.com later reported that four adopters had filed a lawsuit against the business. They were seeking class-action status and unspecified damages.

April 2017/Washington County, Pennsylvania: WPXI.com reported that a woman and child who’d been volunteering at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Angel Ridge Animal Rescue had been attacked by a dog. The child’s face was bitten, and the woman sustained a broken arm and multiple bites on both arms. She was airlifted to a hospital. Observer-Reporter.com reported that the dog had been sent to the “rescue” by a shelter in another county. The dog was euthanized.

April 2017/Wilson County, North Carolina: WilsonTimes.com reported that a woman and her young son had been attacked by two dogs while volunteering at a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as For the Love of Dogs, Inc. The dogs had reportedly been confined at the shelter for “about a year” and severely injured the child. Two ambulances were dispatched to transport the woman and child to the hospital. The dogs were impounded by authorities to be quarantined, after which time they were expected to be returned to the business to live in isolation “in a controlled-entry area away from volunteers.”

April 2017/Battle Ground, Washington: TheReflector.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as NW Love All Animals Rescue had been escorted off the foreclosed property by authorities. A total of 100 animals, “ranging from horses to guinea pigs,” had been removed from the property, and county officials were working to capture the remaining animals, including feral cats, chickens, and a peahen. They said that despite being a registered nonprofit, the “rescue” was never legally permitted to operate. Since 2012, 34 complaints had been filed against it, 10 of which alleged cruelty to animals and resulted in six official warnings. A county report from the previous winter said that on one occasion, officials couldn’t finish an assessment because of the depth of mud at the property: “The mud issues are so extreme we would have been thigh level in sticky/sucky mud,” the report stated. A woman who visited the farm days before its closure said that it had become “like ‘hell on earth.’” A horse she removed was emaciated and had sustained severe rain scalding on his back: “His skin is rotted off his back,” she said. A cat named Lucy was the subject of an animal control investigation of the organization in 2015. After having been at the “rescue” for more than a year, she was found very thin, infested with fleas, suffering from “extreme diarrhea,” and refusing to eat. After treatment, it was determined that she had suffered from cryptosporidium, a parasite contagious to other animals and humans. It wasn’t reported whether charges were being considered.

March 2017/West York, Pennsylvania: YDR.com reported that authorities had seized 38 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as West York Feline Rescue after they were found living in “unsanitary conditions.” The property was condemned after being declared unfit for human occupancy and use. The animals included dozens of cats, some of whom suffered from upper respiratory infections; four dogs; and three rabbits, one of whom had already died. The case was under investigation.

March 2017/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that several people had expressed concern after adopting sick animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Helping Animals Live On (HALO) Animal Rescue. Less than a day after being adopted, one dog needed to be taken to an intensive care unit, where he was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia. Less than two weeks after adopting a puppy, another family spent $1,000 on medical care to treat a respiratory infection. Others had adopted dogs infested with internal parasites and infected with kennel cough. It wasn’t reported whether authorities were investigating conditions at the “rescue.”

March 2017/Clinton, Iowa: ClintonHerald.com reported that a lawsuit had been filed against the Clinton Humane Society (CHS) and the owner of a dog adopted from the shelter after a child was badly disfigured by him. He’d been transferred to CHS from a shelter in Louisiana, where he’d reportedly been confined for more than five months. After the attack, WQAD.com reported that he was being quarantined at CHS.

March 2017/Erie, Pennsylvania: GoErie.com reported that a man had been arrested for allegedly allowing his dog to kill a cat while he videotaped the incident. He sent the video to a friend and said in messages that the cat had been in his basement for six months and had been “destructive.” He also said that he’d called animal control but was told that he’d have to pay $100 for someone to pick up the cat. Investigators found the animal dead outside the residence.

March 2017/Killeen, Texas: KCENTV.com reported that dogs had been injured in a fire at a home where more than 40 of them were being kept. Most were found “covered in ash and soot,” one suffered from smoke inhalation, and a puppy sustained a cut and burns to the paws and nose. KWTX.com reported that the homeowner said that she had an arrangement with the city animal shelter to foster dogs. The fire apparently started in the kitchen, but the cause hadn’t been determined.

March 2017/Boca Raton, Florida: WPTV.com reported that authorities had investigated allegations that animals had been left for days without care at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Scales and Fur Adoption. The group’s founder had reportedly been arrested on heroin-related charges. Another organization that claimed to have “rescued” some of the abandoned animals said that they were “in pretty bad shape.”

March 2017/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that authorities had seized 24 dogs and 10 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Wiggle Butts Dog Rescue. There was an “extreme smell of feces and ammonia inside the property,” where animals were found covered with ticks, suffering from hair loss and untreated injuries, and “extremely malnourished.” Many animals were covered with feces, and their paws were stained, evidently from standing in their own waste. AZFamily.com reported that an investigation was underway and that criminal charges were being considered.

March 2017/Washington County, Oregon: KATU.com reported that a woman who had allegedly been operating a “cat shelter” at her home had been charged with first-degree animal neglect after a dead cat was found near the residence. Authorities investigated after receiving complaints alleging that the woman had moved out of state and left cats without care, including some inside the house. A volunteer who helped trap and remove several cats said that the home was a mess, with cat urine and feces everywhere. She also said that at least one of the cats found in the abandoned residence had a serious bacterial infection and another had ringworm. Some also had severe upper respiratory infections and could be heard wheezing loudly before they were even seen hiding throughout the house. The animals were apparently receiving treatment.

March 2017/Silverton, Oregon: KGW.com reported that a calf and two goats had been killed in a fire at a barn at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Woods Creek Pit Bull Rescue. The cause of the fire and whether it was being investigated weren’t reported.

March 2017/Fayetteville, Arkansas: 5NewsOnline.com reported that authorities had seized 26 live animals and three dead dogs from a woman who told them that she worked with self-professed animal “rescue” groups. Officers removing the animals had to wear protective gear in the home because the “odor of animal feces and decay was so pungent it burned [their] eyes and sinuses.” The animals were found inside small cages with accumulated feces inches deep, their coats were saturated with urine and feces, and several were “abnormally thin or weak.” In some areas of the home, accumulations of feces were 3 feet deep. A veterinarian who examined the three dead dogs determined that one of them had been dead for months. The woman had reportedly adopted 10 dogs since 2015 from a self-professed “no-kill” group in Texas doing business as San Antonio Pets Alive and had adopted another dog from a shelter in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The one from Fort Smith was returned a month later, emaciated and suffering from wounds and sores. She was charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to a dog and two counts of cruelty to animals.

March 2017/Macon, Georgia: Macon.com reported that two volunteers had filed a lawsuit against a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as All About Animals Rescue Macon after they sustained serious injuries when a dog attacked them at the facility. The lawsuit alleged that the “rescue” knew that the dog had previously attacked and bitten people and had “vicious and dangerous propensities” and that the organization had failed to inform volunteers or adequately train them.

March 2017/Florence, Texas: FOX7Austin.com reported that authorities had seized 89 cats and a dog from a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as R.U.G. Activity Center Animal Shelter after a state health inspector found cats housed in cages “with not enough room to move about,” overflowing litterboxes that contained days’ worth of feces and urine, and sick cats housed with healthy ones. The report also cited holes in the wall, insufficient lighting, and an accumulation of trash and feces. KXAN.com reported that some of the cats seized were suffering from upper respiratory infections, ringworm, and other skin conditions. KEYETV.com later reported that the shelter’s name was Relying Upon God (R.U.G.) Activity Center and that the father and son who ran it had both been arrested and charged with cruelty to animals. They legally surrendered 89 cats and one dog to the county animal shelter in order to avoid having to pay for boarding and medical treatments for the animals, already estimated at $10,000.

March 2017/Roanoke County, Virginia: WSET.com reported that authorities had seized 15 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Forever Home Animal Rescue. The owner was charged with operating a kennel without a license, having unsanitary conditions, failing to provide responsible care, and failing to procure county tags, rabies vaccinations, and certificates. As a result of the charges, police said that the “rescuer” was also prohibited from acting as an animal “rescue” organization in the county.

March 2017/Hopkinton, Massachusetts: FOX25Boston.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” “rescue” doing business as Greyhound Friends, Inc., had been issued a cease and desist order by state authorities. A former board member said that state officials had told the “rescue” that cages were too small for the size of the dogs being held there. Two former board members who were interviewed said that they were alarmed to learn that many dogs had been kept in cages at the “rescue” for years. An animal behaviorist shared video footage of one dog who she said showed signs of mental deterioration after being held at the “rescue” for more than three years. She said, “They are just holding these dogs, in small kennels, indefinitely. And it’s just not humane.” A December 2015 report revealed that a law-enforcement officer had expressed concern to board members about “dogs … [who] have been in the shelter for many months or in some cases, years.” BostonGlobe.com later reported that the “rescue’s” owner had pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony cruelty to animals and had been ordered by a district court judge to stay away from the facility.

March 2017/Lake County, Florida: OrlandoSentinel.com reported that two dogs from the Lake County Animal Shelter, which had recently implemented “no-kill” policies, had been involved in attacks on people. A dog up for adoption repeatedly bit a potential adopter in a room where they were meeting, and an adopted dog bit her new owner on his arms after he “spoke sternly” to her. A consultant who was paid $12,000 by the county to implement “no-kill” policies at the shelter had reportedly “evaluated” the second dog before the adoption and saw “no concerns.” Since the attacks, people interested in meeting dogs have been required to sign forms agreeing not to sue the county if they were attacked, and the shelter agreed to provide potential adopters with copies of animals’ records, including notes by employees who work with them every day.

February 2017/Indianapolis, Indiana: TheIndyChannel.com reported that authorities had seized 11 dogs from a board member of a nonprofit organization doing business as Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside after they were found hoarded at her home. Multiple dogs were found outside in a fenced enclosure with an excessive amount of feces and a strong odor of urine and feces. Inside the home, authorities found dogs hoarded with “an excessive depth of feces” on the floor and a strong odor of urine throughout the house. Health inspectors observed “emergency sanitation violations,” and the home was declared unfit for human habitation. The homeowner was facing 11 counts of animal-care and treatment violations and resigned from the nonprofit’s board.

February 2017/Dallas, Texas: WFAA.com reported that neighbors had called authorities asking them to take action and require safety precautions, including the construction of a fence, at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as The Love Pit. The calls came after a dog being fostered by the group escaped and fatally attacked a poodle who was being walked on a leash.

February 2017/Raeford, North Carolina: WRAL.com reported that the co-owner of a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter that had done business as The Haven—Friends for Life Animal Shelter, which had been raided by authorities the previous year (see the February 2016/Hoke County, North Carolina, entry), had been arrested on more than 100 child pornography charges. Investigators found child pornography on two computers confiscated during the raid. Some of the images were described as “graphic,” and some involved animals. In 2009, he’d been charged with 18 counts of second- and third-degree exploitation of a minor while he was a teacher. FayObserver.com reported that a total of 114 counts had been filed against him—57 each of second- and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. He was accused of keeping pictures and computer images of children under age 16 engaged in sex acts with adults and animals.

February 2017/House Springs, Missouri: KMOV.com reported that police and the homeowner had granted volunteers access to remove more than 45 cats from an unlicensed animal “rescue” after the owner was arrested and charged with murdering her husband. Conditions in the home were described as “appalling.” Animal feces were strewn on the floor, and the few food dishes provided were inadequate for the number of animals present. Some of the cats were described as “very ill” and in need of medical attention.

February 2017/Long Island, New York: News12.com reported that authorities had seized 17 cats and three pit bulls from a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found “living in filth and feces.” Three dead cats were also found. She was charged with three counts of animal neglect, and she and her husband were evicted from the property.

February 2017/Minneapolis, Minnesota: CityPages.com reported that authorities had seized 66 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Close to Home Canine Rescue, LLC. Some were found outside “in the frigid cold,” and many were found inside a “very cold” barn and garage. Most appeared to suffer from “extensive dehydration” and medical conditions “indicative of extended inadequate care.” The “rescue” operator claimed that she had obtained animals from shelters in Alabama and Kentucky. A search of the property also produced nearly $1,000 in $20 bills, a bulletproof vest, three handguns, and ammunition. KSTP.com later reported that seven counts of animal torture, abuse, and neglect had been filed against the operator and that the criminal complaint alleged that most of the animals were starving, were dehydrated, and had lived in unheated buildings. One didn’t survive, and a veterinarian described the conditions as “unconscionable.” The operator had previously been charged with breaking into a woman’s home and killing her dog. (See the December 2016/Hennepin County, Minnesota, entry.)

February 2017/Sugar Camp, Wisconsin: WAOW.com reported that authorities had seized nearly 40 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as It Matters to One Animal Rescue after they were found without access to food or water and in need of medical treatment. After examining a dog who had been in the “rescue’s” care for a long time, a veterinarian reported, “It is my medical conclusion along with evidence as stated by diagnostic tests that this animal had to endure sever[e] neglect for months.” WXPR.org later reported that the “rescue” operator had been arrested and that the local sheriff’s office would be recommending charges, including failing to provide food or water, mistreating animals, and obstructing law enforcement.

February 2017/Warren County, Iowa: WHOTV.com reported that authorities had begun an investigation into a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Bully Breed Miracle Network and Rescue after two dead dogs were found at the operator’s property. Authorities seized 19 live dogs and another dead one from two additional properties associated with the “rescue.” The 19 dogs had urine burns and were severely malnourished, and they had to be slowly weaned back onto food. Many of them had reportedly tried to survive by eating their own feces. WQAD.com reported that the operator had been charged with ongoing criminal conduct, second-degree theft, fraudulent practices, five counts of animal torture, and 22 counts of animal neglect. Dead dogs still wearing collars were found in various stages of decomposition in and around cages covered with feces. Surviving animals also had matted fur and sores. KCCI.com reported that a witness said that animal shelters in Southern states had been sending animals to the “rescue.” KCCI.com later reported that one of the survivors, a bloodhound, had been found at the “rescue” in hypovolemic shock caused by hypothermia and had sustained extensive injuries. One of her ears had to be amputated, and she had been in intensive care before being adopted by the sheriff who rescued her from the property.

February 2017/Easton, Pennsylvania: LancasterOnline.com reported that two women had taken plea deals after trying to cover up the beating deaths of two pit pulls found dismembered on nearby railroad tracks after they’d been hit by a train. After an investigation, authorities determined that the dogs had been beaten to death before being placed on the tracks. The day before they were killed, a 911 dispatcher received a call from one of the women, during which she said that she wanted to “get rid of the dogs.” She told the dispatcher that one of the dogs had killed a smaller dog and that she couldn’t afford the $600 fee quoted to her, apparently by a veterinarian, to have them euthanized.

January 2017/Forsyth County, North Carolina: JournalNow.com reported that a volunteer for a self-professed animal “rescue” group had been charged with 15 felony and five misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals after 15 dead cats were found on her property. Authorities removed at least six live cats and two dogs from the property, which had been uninhabited for a year. The “rescuer” claimed to have visited to provide the animals with food and water since she moved out. The dead cats’ bodies were too decomposed to determine a cause of death, but the assistant district attorney described photographs taken at the scene as “horrifying.” The abuser was given three consecutive suspended sentences of five to 15 months in prison, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, and placed on 18 months of intensive supervised probation, during which time she was prohibited from owning or taking in cats.

January 2017/Southport, Florida: MyPanhandle.com reported that authorities had prohibited a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Heartland Rescue Ranch from accepting animals unless they were admitted with a detailed history for the previous six months. The requirement came after a kitten in its care was confirmed rabid. One day, he began panting, and the next day, he suffered from partial paralysis. He was then taken to a veterinarian, who apparently suspected rabies and confirmed the infection through testing. Anyone who may have had contact with the kitten was urged to seek medical attention immediately in order to begin post-exposure treatment.

January 2017/Coventry, Rhode Island: ABC6.com reported that a woman had been charged with two counts of animal abandonment after leaving two cats locked in carriers on a grassy area near the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant. She said that before abandoning them, she contacted several area animal shelters, but none would accept them.

January 2017/Garner, North Carolina: NewsObserver.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” and her partner had been charged with cruelty to animals and animal abandonment after they left 16 adopted cats on the side of the road. Fifteen of them had been given to the “rescuer” by the Cumberland County Animal Shelter. Some were reportedly declawed, were missing teeth, or needed medication. After they were abandoned, some were reportedly found at the doors of nearby homes, clawing to get in. Nine were recovered. The shelter manager said that between March and November 2016, the facility had released 79 cats to the “rescuer” and would routinely call her when the shelter was full and ask her to adopt cats. She said that at one time, she suspected the “rescuer” of hoarding cats and reported concerns to state and county officials but evidently continued to ask her to remove animals when the shelter was full. Authorities were investigating, and more charges could be filed.

January 2017/Oakland Park, Florida: WSVN.com reported that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was investigating spending by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida, which also solicited funds as 100plus Animal Rescue, Inc. The department said that more than $98,000 from the rescue’s bank account had apparently been used for “personal expenses.” It found debit transactions that included tens of thousands of dollars spent on food and restaurant expenses, car payments, insurance premiums, paying off a personal credit card, and purchases at Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Bath & Body Works. There was also a $30,000 loan from the “rescue” to buy a BMW registered to its president. In 2012, the state reportedly served the “rescue” a warning letter because it had collected donations without registering.

January 2017/Irvine, California: CBSLocal.com reported that authorities had seized 19 puppies from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pawlosophy, Inc., after 11 animals adopted from it died and 60 more became ill. KTLA.com reported that the “rescue” operator had been apprehended with six puppies in her possession and that police later found 13 more at a hotel where she’d been staying. She was arrested on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges.

January 2017/Ypsilanti, Michigan: LivingstonDaily.com reported that authorities had seized 21 cats from a woman who claimed that she was trying to “save” them and said that other people had also helped her obtain some of them. The cats were found in small wire traps stacked on top of one another in a freezing, unheated garage that lacked electricity. Many were unsocialized, some suffered from urine burns from sitting in their own waste, and all were filthy and scared. One litterbox was so saturated with urine and feces that it weighed more than 20 pounds. MLive.com reported that authorities would be seeking charges against the woman for animal neglect and unsanitary conditions and that they had contacted a local hoarding task force.

January 2017/Taylor, Texas: TaylorPress.net reported that a recent inspection report by the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) had cited several noncompliance issues at the City of Taylor Animal Shelter, including severe crowding and “non-compliant portable kennels … outside the shelter.” A veterinarian with the TDSHS reportedly said that the shelter’s “no-kill” philosophy had “created an overcrowding problem” there. Inspectors found 26 dogs and 17 cats at the shelter, which had the capacity to house nine dogs and four cats adequately.

January 2017/Horatio, Arkansas: DallasNews.com reported that the Fort Worth Animal Care & Control Center (FWACCC) had released more than 100 animals to a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue in Texarkana, Texas, which had been linked to a cruelty-to-animals case in Arkansas, where eight dogs were shot to death and others were unaccounted for or abandoned. Eight dogs, including some with microchips from the FWACCC, were found dead at the home of a “rescuer.” The “rescuer’s” boyfriend told law-enforcement officers that he had shot them because they had heartworm disease “or posed a threat to cows or humans.” Other dogs had been abandoned and were found living under the house or roaming the area. A veterinarian treating the surviving dogs said that they had medical issues, including heartworm disease, eye infections, and wounds sustained from fighting with one another. At least one dead cat and pieces of other dead animals were scattered around the property. The boyfriend was charged with eight counts of cruelty to animals. Fort Worth authorities confirmed that the FWACC had given Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue 161 animals from January to November 2016, most of whom were removed from the FWACCC by the Arkansas “rescuer.” It wasn’t clear what happened to all of them. Questions also surrounded what had happened to donations made to help the animals.

January 2017/Glendale, Arizona: 12News.com reported that authorities had seized a dog and 12 cats, one of whom was dead, from a woman who “was once involved in animal rescue” after finding multiple malnourished animals and others in poor health at her trailer home. The home “had animal feces everywhere” and posed a “sizeable health hazard.” Warrants were served on charges of animal abuse and neglect.

January 2017/Tumwater, Washington: KIRO7.com reported that 18 dogs had been killed in a fire at a “warehouse-like building” operated by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Furever Homes. The fire reportedly started when a clothes dryer was left running. The “rescue” wasn’t legally licensed, and authorities said that they had previously investigated it after receiving complaints about actions at former locations. TheOlympian.com later reported that 19 dogs had been killed and that the “rescue” had attracted attention in 2015 because of questionable conditions at its facility, which was housing 85 dogs at the time. It wasn’t reported if charges were being considered.

January 2017/Liberty County, Texas: KHOU.com reported that authorities had seized “[n]early 150 dogs, cats and a horse” from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Puppy-Dogs-R-Us, Inc., after they were found in conditions described as “deplorable.” Authorities reportedly said that fires had often been set at the property to dispose of dead animals and that many animals had been found living in filth. Animals were found standing in their own feces and perched on top of kennels “trying to stay out of mucky waters.” Patch.com reported that many animals had been left unattended inside structures on the outskirts of the property without food, clean water, care, or human interaction. Investigators reportedly found animals suffering from hair loss and diarrhea, and veterinary examinations were still underway. Criminal charges were being considered. CW39.com later reported that because of a technical error on the search warrant (addresses for outbuildings apparently weren’t included), a civil court had ordered that the animals be returned to the dangerous situation. Click2Houston.com reported that authorities planned to continue monitoring conditions at the “rescue.”

January 2017/Allegany County, Maryland: BaltimoreSun.com reported that authorities had seized 97 cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Charm City Animal Rescue after they were found in conditions described as “deplorable.” The owner was charged with 97 counts of animal neglect based on the condition of animals found at the “rescue” and her home. In 2014, authorities had seized 35 cats found in “unsanitary and unhealthy conditions” from the same group, citing “dirty cages and litter boxes” and “an overwhelming smell of animal waste.” No criminal charges were filed in the 2014 case.

December 2016/New Brunswick, Canada: CBC.ca reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” group doing business as Hearts of the North had been accused of transporting dogs from shelters in the U.S. to homes in Canada, where several had attacked humans and their animal companions. There were also allegations of “discrepancies in paperwork accompanying dogs crossing the border.” Some veterinarians expressed concern that dogs who were sick with heartworm disease were being imported, as the disease could be spread to dogs and other animals in Canada.

December 2016/St. Louis, Missouri: STLToday.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” “rescue” doing business as Diana’s Grove Dog Rescue had asked the Humane Society of Missouri to remove approximately 165 dogs because it didn’t have enough revenue to house and care for the roughly 350 dogs in its custody. It was also reported that a pet store had ended its partnership with the “rescue” after a puppy from the facility died of pneumonia at the store. Additional complaints about the “rescue” may also have contributed to the end of the partnership. The “rescue” didn’t intend to close. However, FOX2now.com later reported that the “rescue” was closing and that its board members had resigned.

December 2016/Locust Grove, Georgia: 11Alive.com reported that a woman claiming to work with an “animal rescue organization” had left a dog in the custody of a pet sitter. More than a month later, the dog was allegedly found emaciated and confined to a crate in the rain outside the residence. The “rescuer” said she believed that the pet sitter had moved two weeks before the dog was found. A blind dog the pet sitter had adopted from a local animal shelter was also found without food or water, “stumbling” around the empty home. Authorities were investigating.

December 2016/Hennepin County, Minnesota: StarTribune.com reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Close to Home Canine Rescue, LLC, had been charged with burglary after being accused of breaking into a woman’s house and killing her dog. Witnesses told police that the “rescuer” had used a hidden key to enter the home while the owner was out of town and had taken the woman’s small dog to a park or wildlife refuge, where she killed him by stomping on him and/or drowning him.

December 2016/Lincoln, Rhode Island: TurnTo10.com reported that state authorities had assessed a $63,000 fine against a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Broken Tail Foster & Rescue of RI. Investigators said that there were “too many dogs living in a dark, smelly facility” and alleged that the group had also exposed owned animals to deadly parvovirus by allowing them to enter the property while it was under quarantine. The basement of the group’s storefront was damp, lacked ventilation and natural light, and reeked of “a strong odor of urine and feces,” according to an investigator. Twenty-eight dogs were found at the property, where the organization was licensed to keep three. WoonsocketCall.com reported that the fine was $63,100 and that the “rescue” had also been ordered to surrender its operating license. The state veterinarian said that he could remember only “a couple of opportunities to assess penalties under the animal care penalties” and that the case was “one of the more egregious ones.” Inspection reports described a summer visit when one of the owners told inspectors that the air conditioner wasn’t being used “due to the expense of operating it.” During another inspection, a dog who had just had puppies was found in need of immediate veterinary care because of a life-threatening uterine infection.

December 2016/Antioch, California: EastBayTimes.com reported that the Antioch Animal Services shelter would stop accepting animals from residents who could no longer care for them unless they had an appointment, citing chronic severe crowding. The city facility had previously removed outside cages where people could leave animals after hours.

December 2016/Golden Valley, Arizona: News3LV.com reported that authorities had seized 20 animals from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” after it was deemed uninhabitable. One of the dogs was found covered with ticks, emaciated, severely anemic, and possibly needing a blood transfusion. Authorities suspected that four others were infected with valley fever, a fungal lung infection. DCourier.com reported that nearly 200 dogs had been found penned outdoors at the “sanctuary.” They were left in the care of volunteers at the property, which was doing business as the Rescued Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation. Describing conditions, the sheriff said, “Somewhere along the line it becomes overwhelming and the animals now become prisoners rather than being rescued.” JustSayNews.com reported that criminal cruelty-to-animals charges could result from an ongoing investigation by the sheriff’s office. During a meeting of the county board of supervisors, a supervisor said that “a litany of code violations has plagued the … operation for the past 14 years” and that the county had spent “tens of thousands” of dollars and “plenty of man-hours” on code compliance efforts at the “sanctuary.” 12News.com later reported that all of the “sanctuary’s” permits had been revoked and it had been shut down. Authorities had removed 130 dogs and 80 cats, and volunteers were working to find homes for some remaining animals. Some unsocialized 12-year-old dogs had been at the “sanctuary” their entire lives.

December 2016/Clark County, Nevada: KTNV.com reported that authorities had seized 18 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescuer” who said that she had been acquiring dogs from “all over the country for 20 years.” They were found malnourished and emaciated. The property contained six times the number of dogs legally allowed at a private residence. The “rescuer” claimed that she had gotten “busy and overwhelmed.” Most of the dogs weren’t vaccinated, and many hadn’t been spayed or neutered. A later report revealed that the case was still under investigation.

December 2016/Waterford, Pennsylvania: ErieNewsNow.com reported that a kitten had died and other cats weren’t able to eat and were struggling to breathe after a fire tore through a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as French Creek Animal Rescue. Because the cats were kept in plastic carriers with plastic litterboxes, a lot of black smoke was created when their cages began to melt. The fire was started when a kitten pulled a space heater cord into the carrier in which the animal was confined. The kitten died, and it wasn’t known how many cats would survive. “Dozens” of animals were reportedly in the building at the time.

December 2016/DeKalb County, Georgia: FOX5Atlanta.com reported that a “[l]ongtime animal rescuer” had been arrested and charged with a felony count of cruelty to animals after authorities found neglected and starving animals at his property, which was used as a “foster home” for a group doing business as Friends of DeKalb Animals (FODA). The floors inside the home were “permeated” with dog urine and feces, and authorities removed about a dozen animals, including a potbellied pig with protruding ribs who was found in an outdoor pen and nothing but a plastic doghouse for shelter. One dog was found dead, and others were emaciated with “ribs [and] hip bones … clearly visible.” A spokesperson for FODA said that the group had not inspected the home and had left inspections up to the foster caregivers themselves. A court date was apparently set.

December 2016/Concord Township, Ohio: FOX8.com reported that authorities had seized 133 of 262 cats housed at a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Caroline’s Kids Pet Rescue after they were found suffering from respiratory problems and painful dental diseases. News-Herald.com reported that more than 60 percent of the cats at the “shelter” suffered from untreated medical conditions. They were receiving treatment while the investigation remained ongoing.

December 2016/Middletown, Ohio: Journal-News.com reported that authorities had seized 28 sick and injured cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Heart’s Rescue Sanctuary and that its owner had failed to appear in court on six counts of cruelty to animals. The “rescue” was also being evicted because of past-due rent and property damage. An affidavit reportedly revealed that cats were found at the property “in awful conditions … [o]pen mouth breathing, barely moving, some were leaking stool and had discharge around the nose and eyes.” Five had to be euthanized because of the extent of their conditions. A new court date for a pretrial hearing was set.

November 2016/Davis County, Utah: KUTV.com reported that three dogs had been found abandoned inside a rented home after their owners, Shaleesa and Cody Luceros, were evicted. The couple told authorities that they had left the dogs because they couldn’t afford the fees required to surrender them to the county animal shelter. Authorities said that the animals “were extremely malnourished and emaciated” with protruding ribs. The home was littered with feces, urine, and empty bowls. On its website, the county animal shelter states that it charges $40 per dog in surrender fees and an additional $30 fee if help with transportation is needed. The Luceros each faced three counts of cruelty to animals, and the dogs were taken to the shelter.

November 2016/Westchester County, New York: News12.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Recycled Paws Rescue, Inc., had been accused of adopting out sick animals. Authorities reportedly confirmed that the owner of the “rescue” had outstanding civil penalties for operating without a permit in the past. They also said that she voluntarily surrendered 10 sick dogs during an investigation. The SPCA of Westchester told CBSLocal.com, “We’ve been receiving complaints against them for this for years. … And we are investigating.”

November 2016/Pulaski Township, Pennsylvania: NCNewsOnline.com reported that a woman who “had been affiliated with animal rescue and foster groups” had been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals. One of the charges was for failing to provide two dogs and a cat with clean and sanitary shelter. She had allowed feces and urine to accumulate over an extended period of time. She was also charged for depriving the cat of food and water, causing the animal to become dehydrated and emaciated, and keeping two birds in “unclean and unsanitary shelter.” The woman was reportedly on probation at the time on similar charges from 2015 after a horse in her custody starved to death and two others were found emaciated. Dogs in her custody that year were found in a house in which feces covered the floor. In the 2015 case, she was also ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation and was prohibited from keeping domestic animals while on probation.

November 2016/Porter County, Indiana: ChicagoTribune.com reported that all area animal shelters and self-professed “rescues” were full, leaving more than 30 cats, some of whom were ill, with a woman who couldn’t care for them. She had reportedly taken them after finding them homeless. The county animal shelter had received two complaints about the condition in which the cats were living, but it was already housing 20 cats over its capacity. A spokesperson said that the shelter was turning away all cats, including homeless ones. Two kittens described as “the sickest” were taken to a veterinarian by a “rescue” group, but no shelter would accept the remaining animals. The cats’ owner was facing eviction.

November 2016/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Post-Gazette.com reported that authorities had seized more than 180 animals from the residence of a woman who told them that she had “rescued” them from people who no longer wanted them and gave them away via Craigslist. The animals included 150 birds (one of whom was dead), 14 ferrets (one of whom was ill), 10 cats, seven dogs, two geckos, a turtle, a bearded dragon, and a guinea pig. Conditions in the house were described as “beyond deplorable,” and ammonia levels were deemed unsafe for humans. Two women at the residence faced cruelty-to-animals charges and a charge of endangering the welfare of a child because a 12-year-old boy was living there. He was taken into protective custody.

October 2016/Bloomfield, New Jersey: EssexNewsDaily.com reported that an 11-year-old boy had required 81 stitches after being attacked by a pit bull adopted from a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Bloomfield Animal Shelter. Before being adopted, the dog had reportedly been confined at the shelter for approximately 10 months. After the attack, he was taken to a municipal animal shelter.

October 2016/Michigan City, Indiana: SouthBendTribune.com reported that four cats had been abandoned in cardboard boxes outside the Michiana Humane Society & SPCA, which has restrictive surrender policies. A note found with the cats said that their owners could “no longer care for them.” A shelter spokesperson said that anonymous cat drop-offs were common at the shelter and that two hours after the four cats were found, two homeless cats brought to the shelter were turned away because of space limitations.

October 2016/Pittsylvania County, Virginia: GoDanRiver.com reported that authorities had seized 31 cats from the residence of the vice president of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Happy Tails Rescue. Five other cats couldn’t be captured. The carpet and floors of the residence were “soaked with urine and feces,” which could be smelled from outside. Child Protective Services was alerted because of the condition of the home and the presence of two children. A court banned the woman from keeping companion animals, and she was asked to resign from the “rescue.”

October 2016/Madison County, Indiana: HeraldBulletin.com reported that authorities had seized 39 cats, three snakes, two dogs, two guinea pigs, a bearded dragon, a parrot, and a tarantula from a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found in “deplorable” conditions in a mobile home with three adults. Feces were found on the walls and floors of the home, and litterboxes were overflowing with waste. The “rescuer” had reportedly established online fundraising accounts to care for “rescued” animals. She was arrested on suspicion of animal neglect.

October 2016/Vermillion County, Indiana: TribStar.com reported that authorities had seized 56 cats, 26 birds, and 10 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Troll Keep Kitty Haven, Inc. The animals were found in poor condition at two modular homes at the property, which were condemned by a health inspector. Authorities began investigating after people who had adopted kittens from the “rescue” reported that the animals had experienced severe health problems. WTHITV.com later reported that three people had been arrested on cruelty-to-animals charges in connection with the case.

October 2016/Pelham, New Hampshire: LowellSun.com reported that authorities had seized 18 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescuer” who had acquired them from animal shelters and “rescue” groups across the country. The animals were found in filthy crates at his residence without access to food or water. At least 15 additional dogs who had been given to the “rescuer” were unaccounted for. After an investigation began, more dogs who were traced to the “rescuer” were found abandoned in the area, including two who had allegedly been acquired from a “rescue” in Texas and were found wandering the streets of Nashua, New Hampshire, and four who were found abandoned in waste-filled cages in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Authorities seized one of those dogs because of open sores and wounds covering his or her body. The investigation was ongoing, and cruelty-to-animals charges were expected to be filed.

October 2016/Knoxville, Tennessee: WBIR.com reported that 37 cats had been burned alive at a residence where they were being hoarded by a couple who said they had been “rescuing” cats for more than a year. Three additional cats survived after receiving oxygen treatment from fire crews.

October 2016/Ferndale, Michigan: WXYZ.com reported that an animal shelter was caring for dozens of sick and injured cats and kittens who had been removed from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer.” The animals were reportedly found in filthy cages in a hot and humid basement at the “rescuer’s” home. The residence was described as a “living hell” for the animals, who were suffering from infections, disease, and neglect. Some of the cats were so ill that they had to be euthanized, and some suffered from eye infections so severe that their eyes had to be surgically removed. The hoarder reportedly acquired cats and kittens from animal shelters in other states.

October 2016/Callahan County, Texas: Star-Telegram.com reported that authorities had seized more than 200 live and two dead animals from a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as AM Farmers Sanctuary. The animals included 162 dogs, 25 cats, seven donkeys, seven potbellied pigs, six goats, three rabbits, three reptiles, three ducks, and one rat. Conditions at the “sanctuary” were described as “deplorable,” and most of the animals were “noticeably sick.” More than 50 animals were found crammed into a single-wide trailer that was soaked in feces and urine, and “thousands of roaches” covered the walls. Ammonia levels in the trailer were said to be at “extremely dangerous levels.” Dogs and puppies were found in crowded pens outdoors, most without food or water, and the pasture areas for livestock were filled with debris, rusty nails, feces, and other hazards. Water troughs were filled with murky green water, and one contained a dead rat. A veterinarian who examined the animals “determined that these animals [had] failed to receive even the basics of general care.”

October 2016/Cornwall, Ontario, Canada: CornwallFreeNews.com reported that a woman had claimed that a representative of the Ontario SPCA animal shelter told her that the facility didn’t have room to admit a homeless cat who was rescued from the streets and suggested that she re-abandon the animal. She was reportedly told that the shelter was only taking reservations to accept animals sometime during the following month.

October 2016/M?kaha, Hawaii: KHON2.com reported that authorities had seized more than 270 dogs from a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Friends for Life. Animals were found in inhumane conditions, and many were thin or emaciated and suffering from skin conditions, including severe tick infestations. The owner was arrested on suspicion of second-degree cruelty to animals.

October 2016/Lantry, South Dakota: ArgusLeader.com reported that a state judge had ordered two county governments to take control of an estimated 650 wild horses at a self-professed animal “sanctuary” doing business as the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros. The order followed a hearing in which the business reportedly recognized “that the herd has grown beyond a size that can be adequately cared for.” A veterinarian reportedly found a number of thin horses at the “sanctuary,” including some who were “nosing through the dried manure looking for remaining hay” and some with medical conditions and overgrown hooves. A state agency reportedly determined that “animal neglect is present at this facility.”

October 2016/Austin, Texas: FOX7Austin.com reported that the Austin Animal Center was full and to maintain its “no-kill” status wasn’t accepting new animals. Citizens who found animals on the streets were being asked not to bring them in.

October 2016/Highland County, Ohio: TimesGazette.com reported that the Highland County Humane Society, a self-professed “no-kill” shelter, was full and not accepting new animals. Staff reported frequently finding boxes of kittens and puppies outside as well as dogs who had been tied to the facility’s gate overnight.

September 2016/Sarasota, Florida: FOX13News.com reported that a woman who had adopted a dog from The Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) told authorities that she didn’t return the animal, whom she couldn’t take care of, because she couldn’t afford the $30 surrender fee. Six months after he was adopted, she surrendered him to the county animal shelter, claiming that he was a stray. He was emaciated, and a microchip identified her as his owner. She told authorities that she had kept him in a crate and that she worked too much to be able to feed him or take him to a veterinarian. She was charged with cruelty to animals and confining an animal without sufficient food. The dog was returned to the HSSC.

September 2016/Harlingen, Texas: BrownsvilleHerald.com reported that authorities had seized more than 60 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Pick of the Litter Rescue Inc., after they were discovered in unsanitary conditions and the facility was found in violation of a local ordinance limiting the number of animals allowed at one residence. There were also accusations that the “rescue” had dogs up for adoption who were malnourished. The same “rescue” had reportedly been shut down just months earlier. Two of its operators were charged with cruelty to animals.

September 2016/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that a man had claimed to have trapped around 400 cats on his property over a period of a “few years,” drove them 30 to 40 miles, and then re-abandoned them. He said he did so because his local animal shelter either wouldn’t accept them or said it would only sterilize them and return them to his property. He said the cats would urinate on trees, doorways, and tires on the property and he wanted to make sure they didn’t return.

September 2016/New Iberia, Louisiana:  KATC.com reported that authorities had cited the president of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation and seized four dogs found neglected at her home. An investigation was ongoing, and additional charges were pending. One of the dogs seized was a pit bull who had been “rescued” by the group three years earlier. He was found locked in a kennel knee-deep in mud, feces, and urine without food or water. Three other dogs were roaming at large. The sick dog was taken to a veterinarian and treated for inflammation and hair loss on his paws, an open sore, ringworm, and pododermatitis. A test revealed that he was also suffering from advanced heartworm disease. Authorities said he had also not been socialized and was “dangerously aggressive.” The woman reportedly had numerous online fundraising campaigns posted, which showed her asking for—and receiving—thousands of dollars in donations to “rescue” animals. She was allegedly voted out as president of the group.

September 2016/Langley, British Columbia, Canada: CTVNews.ca reported that authorities had seized 45 dogs, 18 cats, five goats, five doves, five chickens, three ducks, three sheep, one rabbit, one quail, one turtle, and one potbellied pig from a self-professed “rescue” doing business as 1ataTime Rescue after they were found malnourished, emaciated, and suffering from severe periodontal disease and other medical conditions. Three more animals were found dead at the property. One dog’s tooth fell out during an examination, and a paralyzed dog had to be euthanized after a veterinarian determined that it was the only option to relieve his “extreme suffering.” According to an official, the dog “had an ulcerated sore from only being able to lie on one side and he was only able to move one limb.” Many animals were found in crates in the home exhibiting stereotypic behavior, including repetitive pacing. The same “rescue” had reportedly been evicted for not paying rent in 2012, resulting in the seizure of 52 dogs and 19 cats. A dead cat was also seized at that time. It wasn’t reported if criminal charges were being considered.

September 2016/San Antonio, Texas: ExpressNews.com reported that authorities had seized 54 animals—including 35 dogs, six chickens, four cats, and one parrot—from a self-professed animal “rescuer” who said she was operating as a foster home for other groups. Animals were found in “varying health conditions,” and several were found inside cramped crates. A hazmat team said that ammonia levels in the residence were “dangerously high,” requiring animal service workers to wear specialized respirators during the raid. Four dead animals were also found at the property. Criminal charges were being considered.

September 2016/Milford, Connecticut: Connecticut.News12.com reported that the former director of the SPCA of Connecticut had been sentenced to one year in prison after being convicted of cruelty to animals. The charges were brought after dogs were found at two properties “in terrible conditions.” (See the August 2016/Monroe, Connecticut, entry.) He was ordered to spend three years on probation following the prison term, during which time he would not be allowed to own animals or work with any animal groups. 

September 2016/Madera, California: ABC30.com reported that authorities had seized more than 25 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Love Me, Don’t Leave Me Rescue, Inc., after they were discovered in small crates without access to food or water. The crates were found outdoors. “Had about an inch full of feces [the animals] were wallowing in, no shade, no nothing—it was awful,” said a county official. The “rescue” reportedly claimed to be a nonprofit, going so far as providing a fake Federal Employer Identification Number on a social media page. An investigation was ongoing. 

September 2016/Geauga County, Ohio: Ohio.com reported that authorities had seized 15 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Cleveland Area No-Kill Dog Rescue and Training Center after they were found in “deplorable” conditions, abandoned in crates at a property in 90-degree heat. Authorities said that records that documented how training was provided and how monetary donations were recorded and used by the business had not been found. An investigation was ongoing.

September 2016/Racine, Wisconsin: JournalTimes.com reported that authorities had seized 26 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Lucky Mutts Rescue, Inc. The animals were reportedly found confined to crates stacked on top of each other, many too small for the dogs held inside. A responding officer was reportedly so overwhelmed by the strong odor of urine that he couldn’t stay in the residence for more than 30 seconds. Previous complaints against the “rescue” included a buildup of feces in the backyard and housing a dog in a van parked in the driveway for days during the summer. The “rescue” owner and her boyfriend were charged with 26 counts of intentionally or negligently mistreating animals. 

September 2016/Yukon, Oklahoma: NewsOK.com reported that a self-described “no-kill” shelter doing business as Pets and People Humane Society had been accused of hoarding animals—some for years on end—in cruel conditions that included keeping them in cages too small for them for up to 23 hours a day. The facility, which reportedly consisted of several ramshackle buildings and a handful of gravel yards and pens, was reportedly hoarding 406 animals in a facility designed for 100. Cages were stacked nearly to the ceiling in every room, including a laundry room. A reporter who toured the facility saw “two rooms where dogs could be seen spinning nonstop in their cages while others bit at the steel doors.” He said that some “sat and stared blankly amid the cacophony of barking, howling and whelping.” A volunteer said that some dogs had been kept in cages inside dark closets and that some had been at the facility for their entire lives. A former worker said that some had been there for as many as nine years. 

September 2016/Anchorage, Alaska: KTVA.com reported that authorities had fined Coshok’s Canine Castle, managed by the executive director of Alaska Animal Rescue Friends, for animal-care and sanitation violations. Video footage taken at the facility reportedly showed dogs in stacked crates, many without water, and some in cages that were too small for them. Some of the dogs were standing in their own waste, while others reportedly showed signs of injury. Authorities had received 47 complaints in the previous three years, resulting in three notices to comply and three notices of violation, which came with fines. Concerns about the group’s financial paperwork were also raised. 

September 2016/Long Beach, California: PressTelegram.com reported that a veterinarian’s license had been revoked after he performed repeated unnecessary surgeries on a cat whose face was being eaten away by cancer. He did so at the instruction of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Furrever Grateful Rescue (FGR). After the failed surgeries, FGR took the cat to another veterinarian, who recommended euthanasia to end his suffering. FGR refused and instead took the cat to a warehouse where the animal was caged as he continued to suffer and decline. FGR was reportedly using the cat as a fundraising tool by posting photos of his decline on its social media pages. Authorities intervened, and the cat was eventually put out of his misery. 

September 2016/North Little Rock, Arkansas: KATV.com reported that authorities had seized more than a dozen dogs from a warehouse where they were being kept in poor conditions by a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Southern Paws Transport. A worker was cited for having too many dogs and not having a permit to operate an animal establishment. She reportedly pleaded no contest to the citations, including one citing poor conditions in which the dogs were being held.

August 2016/Wilson County, North Carolina: WilsonTimes.com reported that the owner of a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as For the Love of Dogs, Inc., had been arrested after refusing to return a dog to his owner because she wouldn’t pay him $100. He was charged with keeping stray animals without notifying the sheriff’s department, a violation of the county’s animal control ordinance. Authorities seized the dog and returned him to his owner.

August 2016/Tuscaloosa County, Alabama: ABC3340.com reported that the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter had temporarily stopped accepting animals—including four puppies whom an elderly couple had rescued from extreme temperatures outdoors and couldn’t afford to keep or care for—in an effort to reduce euthanasia statistics at the facility. According to the news site, if residents find a homeless animal in need, “it’s considered your responsibility.”

August 2016/Robertson County, Tennessee: Tennessean.com reported that the Robertson County Animal Control shelter was turning away cats and dogs in an effort to reduce euthanasia at the facility. Approximately 60 cats and an unspecified number of dogs were reportedly placed on a waiting list and left with people who no longer wanted them or couldn’t provide them with adequate care.

August 2016/Van Buren, Arkansas: 5NewsOnline.com reported that authorities had removed 40 to 50 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Shana’s Last Chance Dog Rescue. The owner of the “rescue” had reportedly asked them to remove the animals because she couldn’t provide them with adequate care. Some of the animals had skin diseases and wounds, apparently from fighting.

August 2016/Santa Fe, New Mexico: ABQJournal.com reported that a self-professed “dog lover” who had wanted to start an animal “rescue” facility was on trial after being charged with 22 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license. The charges were filed after authorities seized 48 dogs from her property, where they had to wear hazmat suits and respirators because of the strong odor created by feces that covered “every corner of the double-wide trailer … including the kitchen counter.” Some dogs had difficulty standing and were found “bang[ing] their heads against the floor and wall.” Others had wounds from fighting.

August 2016/Orange Cove, California: ABC30.com reported that authorities had seized more than 140 animals from a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter doing business as Noah’s Friends Animal Sanctuary. Animals were found at the “sanctuary” without access to food or water, malnourished, and in need of medical treatment. YourCentralValley.com reported that apparently untreated medical conditions included tumors, eye infections, and skin lesions. Details of the case were to be submitted to the district attorney.

August 2016/Perry, Michigan: Freep.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 cats from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as the Cat Project, Inc. Authorities also condemned the building at the property, where the odor was described as “unbelievable.” WLNS.com reported that around 120 cats were found roaming the property, some in poor health, and that several neighbors said they had been complaining for more than a year about poor conditions and foul odors at the property. An investigation was ongoing.

August 2016/Bluffton, Ohio: LimaOhio.com reported that authorities had seized 70 dogs and cats from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as TLU Rescue. Animals were found living amid their own waste in cages with maggot-infested food. Ammonia levels from the accumulation of feces and urine at the “rescue” were so high that authorities had to wear face masks during the raid. One dog died after the raid, and a criminal case was reportedly being prepared for submission to the prosecutor’s office.

August 2016/Las Vegas, Nevada: KTNV.com reported that law-enforcement officials had opened a criminal investigation into conditions at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Adopt A Rescue Pet, where dogs were allegedly confined 24/7 to stacked cages or concrete kennels and denied needed care. A former employee said that the “rescue” was warehousing “dogs [who] are either unadoptable or old or sick,” including one who was unable to stand and had developed sores from lying on concrete and another who had sustained wounds from flea, fly, and mite bites. Authorities had reportedly found repeated violations of minimal animal-care standards, including strong odors, severely crowded cages, dogs forced to stand on bare wire, a lack of available drinking water, poor nutrition, and inadequate housing, veterinary care, exercise, and socialization.

August 2016/Contra Costa County, California: KTVU.com reported that in a push “to find homes for as many dogs as possible,” the Contra Costa County Animal Services shelter had released at least two dangerous dogs. The same day that she was adopted, one dog attacked and killed a small dog named Teddy who was being walked on a leash by his guardian. Teddy sustained massive injuries to his sternum and ribs. There was too much internal damage even to take an X-ray, and he had to be euthanized. His guardian was also badly bitten while trying in vain to rescue him. Another dog attacked and severely injured his new guardian the day after he was adopted. An earlier report on that incident revealed that the adopter was sent to the hospital after sustaining “deep slashes” and puncture wounds that required 30 stitches. The shelter’s veterinary medical director said that the dog was so aggressive that staff couldn’t perform a medical examination before his adoption and that it’s “a trend he fears has become more common in shelters, as they are judged by their ‘live release’ rates and success at achieving ‘no kill’ status.”

August 2016/Mojave, California: KernGoldenEmpire.com reported that authorities had seized 46 cats from a self-professed “no-kill” shelter doing business as Save-a-Life No-Kill Animal Shelter after they were found underweight, in poor health, and with “infectious oozing” coming from their noses and mouths. Approximately 200 cats were reportedly left at the property. Authorities called it an “ongoing situation” and said they planned to continue to monitor conditions.

August 2016/Fairfax County, Virginia: WUSA9.com reported that in an effort to maintain a “positive placement” rate, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter had adopted out dogs who were a risk to public safety, including ones who had bitten shelter caretakers and/or previous guardians (some of them multiple times) but were still put up for adoption. According to the report, in just one year, five shelter employees had been “violently bitten by dogs [who] were either on the adoption floor, or getting prepared to go there.” A follow-up report described the fatal mauling of Kaiser, a small dog who was being walked by his guardian when he was killed by a known aggressive dog adopted from the shelter. A witness to the attack said that Kaiser’s guardian was also “left bloodied and bitten” after trying, in vain, to save his canine companion.

August 2016/Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: WinnipegFreePress.com reported that authorities had seized four live dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Love Is Fur Ever Rescue and Foster Team (LIFERAFT) after they were called to the property by other local “rescuers.” The director of another local “rescue” said that other dogs had been returned to “rescues” that had transferred the animals to LIFERAFT. Local “rescuers” also reported finding several centimeters of feces caked on the floor, chewed walls, two dead puppies, and more dead puppies “liquefying” in the house. An adult dog was found with infected ulcers around her eyes and mouth, “and beetles were eating away at her face,” according to another local “rescuer.” A veterinarian who was treating one of the dogs after she had been removed reported that she was underweight, dehydrated, and hungry and had pneumonia and “a lot of infection in the blood.” WinnipegSun.com reported that authorities had removed five dead puppies and about a dozen dogs from the property. It wasn’t clear if criminal charges would be pursued.

August 2016/Polk City, Florida: TheLedger.com reported that authorities had seized 197 animals, including pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, ducks, a rabbit, and a horse from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Darlynn’s Darlins Rescue Ranch, Inc. The owners were each charged with three counts of felony cruelty to animals and 138 counts of animal neglect after volunteers from PETA provided authorities with information and video footage of severe neglect of animals at the property. (See PETA’s full exposé here.) Starving animals were found with open wounds and hooves so overgrown that they had trouble walking, and some pigs’ tusks were so overgrown that they were embedded into the sides of their faces, making it difficult, if not impossible, to eat. Detectives determined that a large hog named Buddy had died at the facility after lying in the front yard at the “rescue” for 14 summer days in respiratory distress, unable to eat or drink.

August 2016/Monroe, Connecticut: MonroeCourier.com reported that Rep. Themis Klarides, the minority leader in the Connecticut House of Representatives, had visited the SPCA of Connecticut, a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter, and reported finding sick kittens and “deplorable” conditions. Every kitten at the facility reportedly suffered from an upper respiratory infection, and the owner of the facility was in court related to his recent conviction of 11 counts of cruelty to animals. Connecticut.News12.com reported that prosecutors asserted that he would pay open-admission shelters $20 or less for animals, confine them in inhumane conditions, and try to resell them for up to $400 each. He was also previously convicted of 15 charges of cruelty to animals after authorities seized more than 60 dogs from an unheated, unfinished barn-like structure where 15 of them were found in the early signs of hypothermia. Rep. Klarides was working on legislation aimed at regulating “rescues” and private animal shelters in the state as a result of her findings.

August 2016/Rockville, Maryland: WJLA.com reported that authorities had seized nearly 40 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Alpha Group Animal Rescue after they were found living in “deplorable conditions.” Nine chickens, 28 cats, and two dogs were seized. The chickens were reportedly covered with feces and kept outdoors in cramped crates, and the cats and dogs in the home were infested with fleas. A kitten was found so debilitated that euthanasia was required. Large amounts of feces had also accumulated inside the home. The “rescue” operators were charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals.

August 2016/Glendale, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that authorities had seized 52 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found outside in the heat without shelter. Two of the dogs were found dead, and a third dog died on the way to an animal hospital. The “rescuer” was arrested and faced “a slew of charges, including 49 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and three counts of felony cruelty to animals.” A later report revealed that some of the surviving dogs appeared to suffer from apparently untreated old injuries and ear problems, and one dog was having trouble using his or her hind legs.

August 2016/Neosho, Missouri: FourStatesHomepage.com reported that an animal shelter operated by Faithful Friends Animal Advocates—a self-professed “no-kill” shelter that charges fees and accepts only select animals—was full and that people were dumping unwanted or homeless animals at the facility at all hours of the day and night, leaving them on the doorstep, at the gate, and even “shoving them in the doors.” Neighbors were complaining because animals abandoned at the property were roaming the streets and yards in the area.

July 2016/Hoke County, North Carolina: FayObserver.com reported that authorities had seized 121 dogs, cats, goats, horses, and birds from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found hoarded and “in various states of neglect.” The “rescuer” had reportedly acquired them from animal shelters in North Carolina and possibly South Carolina. Authorities found animals without food or water and in need of veterinary care. WNCN.com reported that authorities investigated after receiving a complaint from a veterinarian who found a horse on the property who was so malnourished that the animal had to be euthanized. The “rescuer” was charged with felony animal neglect and resisting and obstructing officers. The county sheriff said that this case was one of the worst that he’s seen during his 14 years as sheriff. 

July 2016/Austin, Texas: MyStatesman.com reported that the Austin Animal Center, which touts itself as a “no-kill” shelter, had been intermittently turning away “healthy cats and kittens” and “healthy medium-large dogs.” Local residents also alleged that the facility had turned away pregnant cats in several instances as well as other animals in need of medical care after being given only cursory examinations by volunteers in tents set up outside. A reporter who visited the crowded facility said that five larger dogs were being housed in metal cages covered with sheets in a conference room and a large pit bull mix was living “in a [cage] out back in an open air truck port.”

July 2016/Madison, Tennessee: WRCBTV.com reported that authorities had seized 41 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Happy Endings Animal Rescue after they were found “living in feces and filth” at the property. Many of them were reportedly suffering from medical problems, some weren’t spayed or neutered, and there was no water and little food at the home, which lacked electricity. A neighbor alleged that dogs had been heard crying at the property and that the “rescue” operator had been heard and seen beating them. The “rescue” claimed to be the “largest privately run, nonprofit animal rescue in the city.” Its operator was arrested on one count of cruelty to animals, and more charges were expected. NashvilleScene.com reported that some of the medical issues identified in dogs removed from the property included starvation, dental disease, and severe hair loss.

July 2016/Owen County, Indiana: WISHTV.com reported that two people had been arrested after authorities removed more than 70 dogs found hoarded at their property. One of the suspects told authorities that he wanted to run an animal “sanctuary” and that some of the animals were strays. An earlier story reported that more than 90 percent of the dogs removed were malnourished and many were suffering from fleas, ticks, and skin issues. One dog reportedly had tumors on his paws that could require the amputation of some of his toes. Conditions at the property were described as “deplorable.” 

July 2016/Lindsay, Oklahoma: PaulsValleyDailyDemocrat.com reported that more than 100 animals had been removed from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” after they were found hoarded and stacked in cages throughout the residence. The local sheriff said, “The conditions were terrible. … It took our breath away. Many of the animals were in crates, and I’m alleging they were being deprived.” Authorities removed 60 cats, 20 dogs, 15 rabbits, and other animals, including ferrets and a kinkajou. Criminal charges were being considered against the “rescuer,” who had reportedly been charged with felony cruelty to animals in 2012 after 22 horses in her possession were found to be deprived of care.

July 2016/Flagler County, Florida: HistoricCity.com reported that authorities had served a search warrant at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as SAFFARI Rescue after receiving three complaints alleging cruelty to animals at the facility. Conditions there were described as “overwhelming,” with 20 to 30 dogs and puppies confined to one building and at least 17 cats in one enclosure. More than 20 puppies, five adult dogs, and at least nine cats were voluntarily surrendered to authorities. StAugustine.com later reported that one of the surrendered puppies had died and nine others were being treated for the highly contagious and often fatal parvovirus.

June 2016/North Port, Florida: WTSP.com reported that 26 live and nine dead cats had been seized by authorities from the home of a man who told them that he had acquired the animals while operating a cat “rescue.” Cats were found suffering from infections of the upper respiratory system, eyes, and ears, and several had resorted to cannibalism. The odor from an accumulation of cat feces, urine, and garbage was so severe that authorities had to wear facial masks during the raid. The owner was charged with 35 counts of cruelty to animals for allegedly failing to provide the animals with adequate food, water, and medical care.

June 2016/Lawrence, Michigan: WOODTV.com reported that authorities had seized 108 dogs, six cats, and a horse from the home of a couple claiming to be operating a “rescue.” Dogs were found without adequate food and water, and conditions in the home were described as “horrible.” Some dogs were underweight and suffered from mange, fleas, deformities, and injuries. The couple claimed to have acquired five pregnant dogs two years earlier as part of a “rescue program” and said that the population then “exploded.” The stench of animal urine and feces was so strong that it could be smelled from several hundred feet away and authorities had to wear respiratory masks during the raid. The couple was charged with cruelty to animals. Another report revealed that the pair had previously been cited for noxious odors coming from another residence and for having too many animals, including many who needed medical care. At that time, the couple was operating a self-professed “rescue” doing business as Cuddly Critters Animal Rescue.

June 2016/Newhall, California: HometownStation.com reported that a man had alleged that his dog died while left outdoors on a hot summer day at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as New Leash on Life Rescue, where he was being boarded. While at the “rescue,” he had reportedly been placed in an outdoor kennel. An attendant later found him collapsed near loose feces, with a blue tongue and white gums. The dog’s owner had a post-mortem veterinary examination performed, which reportedly revealed that the animal’s tongue was blue, his lungs had red spots on them, and there was blood in his trachea. The man sent a demand letter to the “rescue,” which said that it was awaiting the results of its own investigation.

June 2016/Stokes County, North Carolina: MyFOX8.com reported that the Stokes County Animal Shelter had announced that it would no longer accept strays or owner-surrendered animals, in an attempt to “save many animals from having to be euthanized.” The county manager said, “It’s just unbelievable the number of animals people just want to give up.”

June 2016/Morongo Valley, California: HiDesertStar.com reported that authorities had seized more than 150 animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds from a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Paws Pet Ranch/Paws Rescue Ranch after they found the body of a dog who had died as the result of being chained outside without water or shade. A search and seizure warrant was issued at the home where the “stench of urine and feces” reportedly “drifted from the open door” as officers removed animals. Some dogs were described as skinny, and others reportedly limped or had missing fur and visible injuries. The owner was charged with illegally possessing a desert tortoise, and the possibility of other criminal charges was being investigated. The owner also lacked a required license to operate a kennel at the property.

June 2016/Cortland, Nebraska: 1011Now.com reported that for the first time in history, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture had suspended the license of an animal shelter. The self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter was doing business as Stickney’s Toy Breed Rescue and Retirement Sanctuary and was cited for repeated violations of the Nebraska Commercial Dog and Cat Operator Inspection Act. The “rescue” allegedly adopted out dogs with health problems, including internal and external parasites, mange, and ringworm; grouped aggressive dogs with weaker ones; and failed to keep adequate records, including two allegations of falsifying adoption records. The case was pending.

June 2016/Bixby, Oklahoma: KJRH.com reported that authorities had seized more than 60 animals from a home without a required kennel license. Authorities saw a woman there hit one of the dogs with a stick. KTUL.com reported that nearly 70 large-breed dogs were found confined to crates inside the home, where residents said that they were trying to run an animal “rescue” organization. One person was arrested on a complaint of cruelty to animals. TulsaWorld.com reported that some of the dogs who were removed suffered from apparently untreated conditions, including mange, ear mites, and severely matted fur.

June 2016/Cottrellville Township, Michigan: TheTimesHerald.com reported that authorities had seized 98 dogs from the home of a couple who told them that they were breeding, showing, and “rescuing” the animals. The dogs were found living in conditions described as “squalid” and “covered in feces and urine.” Cruelty-to-animals charges were being considered.

June 2016/Cherry Hill, New Jersey: CourierPostOnline.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill” animal shelter had adopted out a kitten who began acting aggressively and exhibiting neurological problems and then bit two people in the new home. The kitten, who had been vaccinated for rabies before the adoption, was euthanized and tested positive for the fatal virus. Both family members were to receive post-exposure rabies treatment.

June 2016/Bay Minette, Alabama: FOX10TV.com reported that after a dog had been turned away from a self-professed “no-kill” shelter, her owner “picked her up by the back of her skin and tossed her” into the car. “He was punching her hard enough to where she was screaming and squealing and I could see him just flexing all the way back with a closed fist,” said the shelter’s administrative assistant. “He was just punching her and punching her.” Shelter officials then accepted the dog and decided not to pursue charges against the owner for fear of retaliation.

June 2016/Aylett, Virginia: GoDanRiver.com reported that 42 horses had been seized from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as New Beginnings Horse Rescue, including several who had been seized by authorities the previous year from another self-professed “rescue.” This latest seizure was the result of an investigation into complaints about malnourished and unhealthy horses at the “rescue” who had not been provided with adequate food or water. Criminal charges were pending against the “rescue,” and authorities reported that the case “underscores the reality that the lack of oversight, inspection and regulation of animal rescue facilities in Virginia limits the ability of local government to prevent, manage or budget for these situations.”

June 2016/Annapolis, Maryland: SOMD.com reported that the operator of a self-professed “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center, Inc., had been charged with cruelty to animals and practicing veterinary medicine without a license. State officials found animals at the “rescue” who “should have been euthanized due to the extent of their injuries,” an osprey confined to a cage so small that the bird’s muscles had atrophied, and animals on whom the “rescue’s” operator, who was not a veterinarian, had performed surgery. According to charging documents, he had operated on ospreys and a snake and acknowledged doing so on other animals. He reportedly told authorities that “it was not cost effective to send every animal he admitted to his center to an independent veterinarian.”

June 2016/Amarillo, Texas: NewsChannel10.com reported that a self-professed “rescue” doing business as Texas Panhandle Pet Savers had been suspended from removing animals from the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society following five incidents in which dogs were neglected, returned, or injured while in the care of families with which they were placed through the group. In one case, a dog was dragged behind a pickup truck by a foster family.

June 2016/Weatherford, Texas: WeatherfordDemocrat.com reported that an outbreak of a canine infectious respiratory disease at the Weatherford & Parker County Animal Shelter had been the result of “overcrowding caused by attempts to avoid euthanasia.” Contagious animals had reportedly been placed in homes and “rescues.”

June 2016/Davie, Florida: WSVN.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill sanctuary” doing business as Be Kind to Animals Rescue planned to shut down following an investigation that revealed that thousands of dollars donated to it had been misspent. Records apparently revealed that donations were used on personal expenses, including theater tickets, hotels, restaurants, doctor’s visits, and nail salons. The owner also admitted that “eight or nine” dogs had been killed by other dogs at the “sanctuary” after they were inappropriately housed. State officials were reviewing the business’s financial records.

June 2016/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that to maintain its “no-kill” status, the city animal shelter had transferred hundreds of dangerous dogs to a “rescue,” where they were put up for adoption, including many who had been involved in attacks that had caused “severe” injuries to people. One dog had been involved in at least two biting incidents and had been caged at the “rescue” on and off for three years.

May 2016/Chicago, Illinois: NBCChicago.com reported that a self-professed “no-kill rescue” doing business as Settlers Pond Shelter was accused by former employees of neglecting and starving animals and allowing them to die in inhumane conditions. One former employee said, “It became normal for me to see an animal die and just throw [him or her] in the back in a pile … and that was it.” He said he was fired after complaining to staff about a lack of food for the animals and poor conditions that he says caused animals to die. In August 2015, the “rescue” was reportedly cited by state authorities after an inspector found underweight donkeys who needed their hooves trimmed and an underweight potbellied pig. The “rescue’s” nonprofit status had also reportedly been revoked.

May 2016/DeKalb County, Georgia: FOX5Atlanta.com reported that the self-professed “no-kill” DeKalb County Animal Shelter, managed by LifeLine Animal Project, failed to give food to 30 dogs during a 47-hour period that was captured on surveillance video. This incident came after police had filed a complaint with a shelter official because the dogs appeared to be undernourished. In March, police had seized two starving dogs who were housed there. After taking them back to the shelter, police returned two weeks later to find that they showed no signs of improvement. Another dog who had been seized by police was found dead at the shelter one morning after he apparently tried to squeeze out of a stainless steel cage in which he’d been housed. LifeLine’s founder also admitted on camera to releasing animals without spaying or neutering them first.

May 2016/White River Junction, Vermont: RutlandHerald.com reported that both the former shelter manager and the vice president of the board of directors of a self-professed “no-kill” cat shelter doing business as Webster’s House had been charged with drowning a cat and lying about it to police. The charges were filed after a four-month investigation. The bodies of three kittens and another adult cat found at the shelter were examined by a forensic veterinarian who said that it was “highly likely” that they had also been drowned. The investigation reportedly began after a volunteer was told not to go into the bathroom at the shelter and found a dead cat in a bucket of water. She was told that the cat couldn’t be taken to a veterinarian because of an outstanding $4,000 bill. Medical records from a local veterinary hospital revealed a long list of increasingly sick cats at the shelter and thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. A local farmer who said he buried cats on his farm for the shelter turned over to police three large bags containing 22 dead cats and kittens. The shelter was reportedly closed after being evicted.

May 2016/Studio City, California: NBCLosAngeles.com reported that authorities seized 65 dogs from a self-professed “no-kill rescue” doing business as Lucky Puppy Rescue & Retail. Many of the animals were reportedly suffering from medical conditions and were seized for “humane reasons.” The “rescue” owner was facing charges of animal neglect and operating an illegal kennel. ABC7.com reported that the owner said that most of the animals had been given to her by local animal shelters.

May 2016/Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: ABC27.com reported that authorities had seized seven horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as A Life Saved Is a Life Saved Equine Rescue. The animals were described as emaciated, and two horses were described as lethargic. There was not adequate shelter, hay, or water available for the animals. Another horse seized earlier from the “rescue” died days later. Test results reportedly indicated that the animal had suffered from an untreated virus and had been starved. Cruelty-to-animals charges were being considered.

April 2016/Cold Creek, Nevada: KTNV.com reported that authorities had seized more than 400 animals from unhealthy, substandard conditions at Desert Rescue Animal Sanctuary. Nearly 100 animals had to be euthanized. LasVegasNow.com reported that criminal charges were expected to be filed.

April 2016/Hillsborough County, Florida: WFLA.com reported that concerned area residents had alleged that the Hillsborough County animal shelter had adopted animals to individuals with violent criminal histories in an effort to increase its live-release rate. Some of the cases of concern included that of a man who had served time in state prison for child kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery and was allowed to adopt a pit bull from the shelter. The shelter released the dog to him in September, and the animal was picked up as a stray two months later. However, the adopter had been incarcerated again at that time. County officials were being urged to require better screening of potential adopters, including conducting criminal background checks.

April 2016/Dania Beach, Florida: Sun-Sentinel.com reported that 34 dogs had been rescued by firefighters from the burning home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” who fostered animals for organizations, including Florida Cocker Spaniel Rescue. One dog died while being taken to an animal hospital. A neighbor said of the woman, “She’s a dog hoarder, plain and simple.” He said that he had filed numerous complaints with the city because of the noise and odors. NationalPost.com reported that firefighters battling the blaze were obstructed by the many items inside the home and kept finding dogs, many of whom were unconscious. Five of the dogs were in critical condition.

April 2016/Livingston Parish, Louisiana: LivingstonParishNews.com reported that the Livingston Parish Animal Shelter had refused to accept badly injured dogs, who were part of a cruelty-to-animals investigation, from a sheriff’s deputy because shelter staff did not want to euthanize them. Weeks earlier, the dogs’ owner had allegedly tried to surrender them to the shelter but was denied assistance. One of the dogs couldn’t walk because his back was reportedly broken, another was covered with what appeared to an eyewitness to be tumors, and one suffered from “an open wound from the top of [the dog’s] inside thigh to the hip, as if [the animal] had been ‘cut by a filet knife.’” In 2013, an animal control committee member said that parish residents were “tired of watching dogs in bad shape, emaciated and suffering.” He continued, “People in neighborhoods are watching them die” because of the shelter’s turn-away, “no-kill” policies.

April 2016/Crown Point, Indiana: NWITimes.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” who was fostering six dogs given to her by Chihuahua Rescue of Indiana had been charged with cruelty to animals. The charges were filed after a dog being boarded by the “rescuer” was returned to his owners in poor condition, with his fur matted with feces and irritation around the base of his tail, apparently from sitting in a cage in his own waste. The dog had also lost weight while in the “rescuer’s” possession, and a report filed by a responding law-enforcement officer said that the residence “smelled strongly of feces and urine.” The foster dogs were removed.

April 2016/Pasco County, Florida: WTSP.com reported that 87 dogs and cats had been seized by authorities from a woman operating an animal “rescue” out of her home. Ammonia levels in the residence were so high that an emergency management team was called to test the indoor air quality, which was so bad that it “blew the [testing] scale away.” Animals were found with skin conditions, and urine-soaked towels were found piled up in the residence. The woman and a caretaker were both cited for cruelty to animals. In 2005, the same woman and an assistant were convicted in Ulster County, New York, on charges of failure to give proper sustenance and failure to supply proper food and drink to an impounded animal after more than 100 animals were seized from her home, where she was doing business as Patty’s Angels animal shelter. The New York property was also “contaminated with feces and standing water.”

April 2016/Middle Island, New York: NewYork.CBSLocal.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Friends of Freddie Pet Rescue had been told to vacate a shopping center after being cited for numerous fire- and safety-code violations. Authorities said that despite being warned for months that the store was not safe for animals, the “rescue” continued to bring them in and house them there. Town officials said that they were cracking down partly as a result of a fire that killed several animals inside another shelter operating illegally in the area.

April 2016/Harvard, Illinois: NWHerald.com reported that the state had revoked Ceasers Heaven Animal Rescue’s shelter license after discovering that the operator had failed to disclose 13 prior felony convictions, including fraud, theft, and unlawful placement of an adopted child. It was also reported that she had been fined in 2013 for operating an animal shelter out of her home without a license and in 2015 for failing to sterilize and/or microchip a dog and keep adoption records. The state barred her from holding an animal shelter license for a minimum of three years.

April 2016/Chester, Vermont: EagleTimes.com reported that following an investigation by the local police department, Webster’s House Animal Shelter, formerly The Animal Rescue and Protection Society, Inc., had been evicted and was also ordered to have a veterinarian conduct health checks on all the cats in its possession. The investigation had apparently been opened after a visitor to the facility “witnessed something that happened that was ‘not in keeping with a humane shelter.’” No additional details were provided.

April 2016/Lincoln County, Colorado: DenverPost.com reported that authorities had seized 60 neglected animals, including puppies, parrots, and horses from a couple operating a substandard and unlicensed “rescue” in which animals were living in unsanitary conditions. The couple was also allegedly breeding dogs on the property. Animals were found suffering from malnutrition and untreated medical conditions. In a statement, the sheriff’s office said, “The conditions these animals had to endure were terrible.” An investigation was ongoing.

March 2016/Macon, Georgia: 41NBC.com reported that the former director of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Macon Purrs N Paws was charged with theft for allegedly using nearly $90,000 in donations made to the group for personal expenses. The case was under investigation.

March 2016/Cheyenne, Wyoming: KGWN.TV reported that authorities had seized nearly 40 animals from a woman who was on probation after being convicted of cruelty-to-animals charges in 2010. The animals were found living in squalor. Some were locked inside kennels so filled with feces that their water dishes were described as being “mortared” into place, and at least 13 animals had no access to water at all. Many of the animals suffered from severe dental disease. In 2010, WyomingNews.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals, including 45 dogs, from the same woman while she was doing business as Litl’ Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. The 45 dogs were living in a small, filthy residence. The floor was “littered with feces,” and the foul odor could be detected from 20 feet away.

March 2016/Hewitt, Texas: Bloomberg.com reported that a lawsuit had been filed alleging that the former chief executive of Life Partners Holdings Inc., who was accused of cheating investors out of $1.3 billion, used an animal shelter doing business as Happy Endings Dog Rescue to funnel money to his mistress. The “rescue” was accused of failing to provide for dogs in its care and abandoning 250 animals at another facility. The complaint also alleged that at one point, Happy Endings was receiving funding for more than 20 people who were no longer on its payroll.

March 2016/Vernon, Texas: TexomasHomepage.com reported that authorities had seized 108 cats who were being hoarded in “deplorable” conditions at the residence of a woman who “was planning on opening a no-kill shelter.” The home reportedly smelled “like death, ammonia.” Star-Telegram.com reported that the majority of the animals were infested with parasites and suffered from respiratory infections. Five of them had been preliminarily diagnosed with feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus, 18 were pregnant, and a neighbor said that 30 to 40 cats were buried in the front yard of the home.

March 2016/La Feria, Texas: KRGV.com reported that authorities had seized 57 dogs and cats from a self-professed animal “rescue.” Many had no access to water, and most were in such “bad shape” that euthanasia was being considered. Some dogs suffered from severe skin disease. Feces and urine covered the floors of the house, and a dead dog was found stuffed into a cooler. Ten additional animals were seized from another property owned by the same “rescuer.” A later report revealed that one of the dogs tested positive for distemper and that some of the dogs were pregnant. Felony cruelty-to-animals charges were being considered.

March 2016/Stamford, Connecticut: StamfordAdvocate.com reported that the city of Stamford had agreed to pay $290,000 to a man bitten by a dog he was considering adopting at the city’s animal shelter. The “no-kill” shelter manager at the time of the incident was removed and charged with three counts of reckless endangerment. She was accused of misrepresenting the biting history of three other animals who were later adopted and bit again, as well as failing to supervise shelter volunteers properly and allowing them to run the facility.

March 2016/Anna, Illinois: KFVS12.com reported that volunteers and an ex-employee of a “no-kill” shelter doing business as PAWS Animal Shelter accused the facility of allowing sick animals to die inside cages, warehousing one dog at the facility for eight years, and keeping dogs in cages for extended periods, resulting in “behavioral issues,” including “twirling in cages.”

March 2016/Chambersburg, Pennsylvania: PublicOpinionOnline.com reported that the owner of Greener Pastures No-Kill Animal Rescue was due in court to face charges related to allegedly spending more than $128,000 in donations made to the “rescue” on personal expenses. Checks from the “rescue’s” bank account reportedly included those to the owner’s personal defense attorneys, probation payments, vehicle payments, and mortgage. The operator was reportedly on probation after pleading guilty to forgery in 2011.

February 2016/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that the city’s “no-kill” policy had resulted in a 146 percent increase in the city shelter’s budget, which was costing Austin nearly $12 million annually. The number of employees had also increased from 81.5 to 106.5. Dog trainers accused the shelter and its partners of adopting out aggressive dogs in order to maintain the shelter’s “no-kill” status. Dog-bite reports in Austin had reportedly increased by 58 percent since 2009.

February 2016/Mojave, California: TurnTo23.com reported that authorities had seized more than 100 animals from Oasis Feral Cat Sanctuary after they were found living in unsanitary conditions. Many were suffering from illnesses and other medical conditions that apparently developed during their time at the property. The operator of the “sanctuary” was facing a felony cruelty-to-animals charge.

February 2016/Homestead, Florida: Sun-Sentinel.com reported that the filthy home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as Helping Hands cat and dog “rescue” had been condemned and that authorities seized 16 live dogs and the bodies of 12 dead cats from the dwelling. Authorities planned to return to remove 48 live cats. The residence also operated as a licensed assisted living facility. An elderly woman had escaped and flagged down a driver for help. The woman smelled like urine and said that she hadn’t eaten all day. Four people were taken out of the facility, and the operator faced four criminal counts of elder neglect.

February 2016/Logan County, Kentucky: BGDailyNews.com reported that authorities had seized custody of five horses from a board member of the “no-kill” Logan County Humane Society and cited her with cruelty to animals after the animals were found in “extremely dirty stalls” without adequate hoof or dental care. According to the citation, the horses’ owner said that she had been working and “didn’t have much time to take care of the horses.” Three deer, two opossums, a raccoon, and a squirrel were also removed from the property, where they had been illegally confined. The wild animals were taken to a licensed rehabilitation facility, and the horses were under the care of a veterinarian and farrier at the owner’s property. The owner resigned from the shelter’s board.

February 2016/Contra Costa County, California: SFGate.com reported that Contra Costa County animal shelters had stopped accepting owner-surrendered animals for at least 30 days in an attempt to decrease crowding while maintaining high adoption statistics.

February 2016/Torrington, Connecticut: WTNH.com reported that the operator of Just For Labs Rescue was facing criminal third-degree larceny charges for allegedly posting photos of a dog and claiming that the animal was available for adoption. At least three people had sent adoption fees. The photos used were allegedly from other websites in other states, and no one received a dog or a refund.

February 2016/Farmington, Maine: SunJournal.com reported that a cat and kitten had been abandoned in a zippered travel bag at the limited-admission Franklin County Animal Shelter. The facility doesn’t accept most animals and charges a fee for those it does take in.

February 2016/Houma, Louisiana: HoumaToday.com reported that a pair of self-professed animal “rescuers” doing business as My Heart’s Desire had been charged with 36 counts of animal neglect after more than 30 animals were found in deplorable conditions at their home. Animal feces, urine, and fur “covered” surfaces throughout the house. WDSU.com reported that several dogs had been found with deteriorating medical conditions including arthritis, tumors, severe ear infections, and degenerative joint disease. Some were malnourished, were infested with internal parasites, or had broken bones. The pair told officials that they had acquired the animals from animal shelters and the general public, and some had been at the “rescue” for years. 

February 2016/Hoke County, North Carolina: TheTimesNews.com reported that nearly 700 animals had been seized by authorities from a couple doing business as The Haven-Friends for Life “no-kill” animal shelter, which billed itself as “North Carolina’s most successful no-kill shelter.” The operators were charged with four counts of cruelty to animals and three counts of possession of a controlled substance. After the seizure, about half of the adult dogs and 182 cats had to be kept in isolation because of respiratory illnesses and other contagious conditions such as ringworm, and 10 veterinarians were needed to treat medical conditions, including open wounds, starvation, and lethargy. WRAL.com reported that dozens of dead animals had been found buried on the property, where authorities had also found animals confined to dirty cages, kennels, and outdoor pens and paddocks, many with no protection from the elements.

January 2016/Rockville, Maryland: MyMCMedia.org reported that 66 dogs had been seized by authorities from a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as Forever Homes Animal Rescue, Inc. The operator had been charged with 66 counts of cruelty to animals after the dogs were found languishing in filthy crates and suffering from a variety of ailments, many of which resulted from neglect. Three of the dogs were in “such a severe state of medical decline” that they had to be euthanized, and one dog died from unknown causes. The defendant told authorities that the majority of the dogs at her home had come from animal shelters located in the northeast region of the United States.

January 2016/Hillsborough County, Florida: WFLA.com reported that Hillsborough County Pet Resources, the county’s animal sheltering agency, was apparently making it more difficult for people to surrender animals to the shelter in an attempt to improve the facility’s “live-release rate.” Workers at two local veterinary hospitals said they were told by the county shelter to abandon illegally animals who had been abandoned at their places of business and alleged that the county facility was “more concerned about raising its live-release rate than caring for animals.” 

January 2016/Stevens County, Washington: Spokesman.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as The Shepherd’s Way Animal Rescue had been convicted of theft for allegedly using her “animal rescue service to prey on people’s willingness to help by stealing their money.” The deputy prosecuting attorney said that the “rescuer” had a criminal history of fraud and theft that dates back decades. In the recent case, the defendant took $3,000 from people who wanted to adopt three horses from the “rescue” but failed to give them the animals.

January 2016/Parkland, Florida: Local10.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as K94U Dog Rescue had been ordered by authorities to remove all dogs from the group’s property within seven days after 40 to 60 dogs were found stacked in small cages in a barn-like structure.

January 2016/Gloucester, Virginia: GazetteJournal.net reported that the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society will no longer accept every animal needing refuge taken to the facility by owners who can’t—or won’t—care for them any longer. The decision was reportedly made to reduce expenses as well as maintain “high live release numbers” at the facility.

January 2016/Iredell County, North Carolina: SalisburyPost.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as Purfect Purbaby Rescue (PPR) had been charged with criminal animal abandonment after more than a dozen cats were found dumped on the side of a road. Iredell County investigation reports allegedly reveal that microchips implanted in the abandoned cats traced to kittens released to the “rescuer” by the Rowan County Animal Shelter (RCAS). RCAS estimated that it had released several hundred cats to PPR and that the group had more than once “adopted every cat” who might be euthanized at the facility. An investigation was ongoing.

January 2016/Eureka Springs, Arkansas: LovelyCitizen.com reported that authorities had launched an investigation into conditions at the Good Shepherd Humane Society “no-kill” shelter after receiving a complaint alleging that animals were severely neglected and languishing at the facility in harsh conditions, without adequate food and with no real chance of finding new homes. According to a newly hired shelter manager, animals at the facility were not receiving adequate amounts of food, some suffered from “a lot of health issues that are compromising the welfare of other animals in the shelter,” and in some cases, dogs and cats were housed together. The group’s board had reportedly voted to close the shelter temporarily, and a criminal investigation was ongoing.

January 2016/Lake Station, Illinois: ChicagoTribune.com reported that authorities had seized 72 cats, four dogs, and one raccoon from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as Rachel’s Fosters animal shelter. The “rescuer” was facing criminal charges of forgery and animal abandonment or neglect. Animals seized suffered from a variety of illnesses, including open sores, ringworm, and upper respiratory disease. Some had difficulty breathing, and others had to be euthanized because of the severity of their conditions. Police said that animal feces had accumulated along the baseboards of the home, and litterboxes were overflowing with excrement.

January 2016/Glendale, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” who told authorities that she worked for Haven Animal Rescue and housed dogs at her home until they were ready for adoption had been charged with cruelty to animals after three dead dogs were found in cages at the residence. In addition to the dead animals, police said that they had found trash covering the floor, urine and feces throughout the residence, and 18 dogs either caged or wandering without access to water or adequate food. Conditions were described as “deplorable.”

December 2015/Charleston, South Carolina: CountOn2.com reported that authorities seized 108 animals from a self-professed animal “rescue,” possibly doing business as Caradobe Doberman Pinscher Rescue. Seventy-two rabbits, 32 cats, and four dogs were found confined to cages throughout the operator’s home, which was filled with sick and injured animals and piles of feces and had blood-smeared floors. Most of the animals were reportedly malnourished, and some suffered from injuries, neurological problems, and respiratory infections. It was unclear if criminal charges would be pursued.

December 2015/Ozark, Alabama: DothanFirst.com reported that the “no-kill” Ozark-Dale County Humane Society’s facility had run out of room, was turning away animals in need, and had “several dogs and cats” who had been confined to the facility “for years.”

December 2015/Bibb County, Georgia: 13WMAZ.com reported that authorities had seized 79 dogs and cats from a couple who claimed to be animal “rescuers.” Animals had been found living in deplorable conditions at the couple’s home, which was filled with feces, urine, and trash. 41NBC.com reported that one of the cats who had been seized had to be euthanized as a result of the severity of her condition: She was described as having “pus and mucus coming out of her mouth” because of the long-term exposure to high ammonia levels at the “rescue,” with a body condition score of “less than one” (emaciated). The couple was arrested and charged with felony cruelty to animals.

December 2015/Plainville, Connecticut: Courant.com reported that authorities had seized 45 animals from a self-professed “rescue” doing business as Almost Home. Veterinarians who examined the animals found that they suffered from numerous medical conditions, including urine-scorched skin, untreated urinary tract infections, untreated wounds, and upper respiratory infections that may have been caused by long-term exposure to urine-soaked living conditions. One cat was suffering from an untreated broken tail, and another was not receiving needed treatment for diabetes. Animals’ fur was caked with feces, and most of them were infested with fleas. Authorities reported that the animals had been kept in a garage and at times had been trapped in soiled cages for more than 20 hours each day.

December 2015/Cypress, Texas: Click2Houston.com reported that authorities had seized 24 dogs, 15 cats, one turtle, one chipmunk, and three horses from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. A dead cat had also been found inside the facility. Officials reported a strong ammonia odor and overflowing litter boxes. An ex-volunteer with the “rescue” described it as an “animal concentration camp,” where animals died “slow painful death[s] of starvation or dehydration.” It was unclear if criminal charges would be pursued.

December 2015/Adams County, Colorado: KDVR.com reported that authorities had seized 75 dogs from an illegal “rescue” kennel. The animals had been found crowded throughout a residence, with 25 to 30 dogs in one room, approximately 40 dogs in the kitchen, 15 dogs in the garage, and more dogs in the basement. The operator was not facing criminal charges.

December 2015/West Haven, Connecticut: NBCConnecticut.com reported that a dog had been hit and killed by a car just hours after being turned away from an animal shelter. The dog’s owner had reportedly taken the dog to a shelter and told workers that the dog was aggressive and that she “couldn’t handle [the animal] anymore.” Believing that the dog was not adoptable, the shelter had refused to accept him or her. The animal was found dead in the road later the same day. Police were investigating.

December 2015/Paxton, Massachusetts: Telegram.com reported that three days before a fire at Sweetpea Friends of Rutland Animals shelter, where dozens of animals were burned alive, state authorities had told operators that the “rescue” was not suitable for the housing and care of animals. Inspection reports published online show that the “rescue” had been warned by state inspectors about fire hazards at the facility as far back as July 2014—and that it had been cited repeatedly for inhumane conditions, including cages crammed with up to four cats, terrified cats housed in the same room as dogs, large dogs spinning in circles from stress-induced psychosis and banging into the walls of kennels far too small for them, animals hoarded for extended periods (months or years), strong odors, dangerous amounts of clutter, and animals attacking one another through fencing. The city suspended the “rescue’s” license pending the creation of new regulations. It was unclear if criminal charges would be pursued.

December 2015/Adams County, Ohio: WCPO.com reported that authorities had seized 166 animals from Sugar Bear Dog and Cat Rescue, where they had been found in deplorable conditions. TimesGazette.com reported that animals had been found suffering from untreated wounds, broken bones, and severe eye, skin, and ear infections. The home was condemned, and the prosecutor’s office said that it would “definitely” pursue criminal charges against the “rescue’s” operators.

December 2015/Hodgenville, Kentucky: DailyJournal.net reported that the owner of a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Sassy Ann’s Special Needs Sanctuary was charged with cruelty to animals. The “rescue’s” operator said that she acquired animals from animal shelters that couldn’t find homes for them. LaRueCountyHerald.com reported that authorities seized 60 animals from the home, which was covered in animal feces and urine, including two dogs who were “in very poor condition” and suffered from hair loss, open sores, malnutrition, and a severe flea infestation. The operator was charged with 60 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals and one count of harboring a vicious animal.

December 2015/Hunterdon County, New Jersey: LehighValleyLive.com reported that the owner and operator of Catnip Friends Rescue had been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals for causing the death of a dog in her custody after failing to provide him with needed veterinary care. After being purchased for $500, the dog had reportedly been returned to the “rescue” because of an illness. He had not been provided with veterinary care and had died the next day.

December 2015/Brownsville, Texas: ValleyMorningStar.com reported that the founder of Brownsville PAWS, a self-professed animal “rescue” group, had been cited for inhumane treatment and risking the safety of an animal in a motor vehicle after leaving two dogs unattended in his vehicle. The high temperature outdoors on the day of the incident was reportedly 83 degrees. A court date had been set.

December 2015/Beckley, West Virginia: Register-Herald.com reported that the Humane Society of Raleigh County, a “no-kill” shelter, was not accepting any animals and was cutting hours because its kennels were full and its veterinary bills were “ever-increasing.”

December 2015/Laurel County, Kentucky: LEX18.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Homeward Bound Rescue had been raided for “hoarding, neglecting and abusing over 100 dogs.” A total of 178 animals were seized after being found in “deplorable” conditions, and the “rescue’s” director was arrested and charged with second-degree animal abuse. Some of the animals had developed sores from lying in feces and had wounds from fighting. According to TheNewsJournal.net, a state police trooper described conditions as “one of the worst cases of animal abuse” he had seen in 30 years of law enforcement. Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter said that it had “regularly” given animals to the raided “rescue.”

December 2015/Tularosa, New Mexico: KRQE.com reported that authorities were investigating after finding dead and injured animals “all over the property”—including 10 dead dogs and a dead cat confined to plastic crates—at a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Animal Rescue K-9 and Feline of Tularosa. CBS4Local.com reported that the “rescue” was an approved partner of the city of El Paso, Texas, which had recently transferred approximately 32 animals to the property. Representatives with the city of El Paso were trying to find out what happened to the animals they gave to the group and recognized that “it is possible some of the city’s animals died at the rescue.”

November 2015/West Seneca, New York: WIVB.com reported that the operator of Bob the Cat Animal Rescue was facing criminal charges after authorities seized more than 50 cats hoarded by the “rescue.” Cats were found suffering from severe upper respiratory infections, ringworm, and conjunctivitis—among other illnesses. Local shelter officials reported having had “run-ins” with the “rescuer” for more than a decade, requiring the SPCA to intervene and care for more than 500 cats belonging to the group.

November 2015/Somerset, Virginia: DailyProgress.com reported that the operator of a self-professed animal “rescue” called Peaceable Farm, Inc., was out on bond after being charged with 27 counts of cruelty to animals. The charges were filed after authorities removed 116 animals from the property of the “rescue,” several of whom needed immediate veterinary care. Authorities also found dead animals—including six horses, a donkey, and many dogs, cats, and chickens—at the property, described by a sheriff’s deputy as “one of the most horrendous sights that I have seen in my 28 years of law enforcement.”

November 2015/Crystal Lake, Illinois: ChicagoTribune.com reported that the teenage son of a licensed animal “rescue” operator killed a kitten and threatened to kill another during an argument that he was having with his sister over a bong. A necropsy revealed that the kitten died from head trauma while in the custody of Saving All Our Angels animal “rescue,” run out of the boy’s home. He was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals and criminal damage to a domesticated animal, and he remained in jail awaiting a court date.

October 2015/Wolcott, Connecticut: FOX61.com reported that the operator of Egyptian Cat Rescue could face criminal charges after authorities seized 59 cats and two dogs hoarded at the property, most of whom were underweight and suffering from dehydration, eye infections, and upper respiratory conditions. Cat urine and feces could be smelled from outside the house because of excrement covering the walls and floors inside.

October 2015/Jacksonville, Florida: Jacksonville.com reported that a temporary director would oversee the city’s animal care and protective services department. The previous director resigned during an investigation into allegations that she and the shelter’s manager falsified reports and turned away animals in order to maintain the shelter’s “no-kill” status.

October 2015/Nassau County, Florida: ActionNewsJax.com reported that a woman running a self-described animal “rescue” out of a rental home without the permission of the homeowner was accused of causing at least $10,000 in damages, including a carpet soaked in urine, baseboards chewed by dogs, and doors scratched by animals trying to get out.

October 2015/Savannah, Tennessee: TheDodo.com reported that authorities removed 82 dogs found hoarded in crates, travel carriers, a garage, and even bathtubs at a licensed animal shelter, identified elsewhere as K-9 Sanctuary. Some cages housing dogs were found rusted shut, and animals removed were reportedly “terrified of the daylight and the fresh air because they probably hadn’t seen it in some time,” according to an official. Two dogs required emergency surgery upon removal. Criminal charges were not filed because the animals were voluntarily surrendered.

October 2015/Cornelius, North Carolina: TWCNews.com reported that a woman was arrested and charged with more than a dozen counts of cruelty to animals after allegedly poisoning 14 cats in her custody and then stuffing their bodies in a suitcase, which was left near a dumpster. The suspect told authorities that she killed the cats after trying to take them to a “no-kill” shelter that refused to accept them. The facility in question was not identified.

October 2015/Staten Island, New York: SILive.com reported that authorities seized three dogs who were found starving in small crates at Cascio Canines animal “rescue.” The dogs, none of whom were reportedly underweight when handed over to the “rescue,” were found with their “bones … protruding from their skin, and their bodies … stained with urine and feces.” Cascio Canines reportedly claimed to board dogs who were “taken from city shelters by rescue organizations,” and its operator asserted that “[a]s long as they can stand up and turn around, that’s all the space I need to give them.” She was charged with three counts of torturing and injuring animals.

October 2015/Noble, Oklahoma: NormanTranscript.com reported that a woman was being sought by authorities on criminal charges of cruelty to animals after two dogs were found decomposing at a property she leased to operate as a foster home for an animal “rescue” group called Unchain. The dogs allegedly died after being denied adequate shelter, food, and water. One was found crammed in a homemade kennel, while the other was tethered by a thin leash. The tethered dog’s leash was tangled, limiting the animal’s movement, and there were no signs that the animals were provided with food or water.

September 2015/Winchester, Virginia: Your4State.com reported that the operator of Pound Puppies Dream Big Sanctuary in West Virginia faced 12 criminal charges for importing puppies into Virginia without legally required veterinary inspections. Two puppies adopted in Virginia from the “sanctuary” were diagnosed with the highly contagious parvovirus after becoming seriously ill and being taken by adopters to emergency animal hospitals, where they both had to be euthanized.

September 2015/Bonita Springs, Florida: WINKNews.com reported that authorities had to wear hazmat suits to seize 136 cats and three dogs from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as Halfway Home Animal Shelter and Rescue. Cats, nine of whom were found dead, were reportedly found hiding in drawers, cabinets, closets, and couches. The floors of the home—which was condemned—were drenched in urine and covered with garbage and feces as high as 2 feet in some places. The smell of ammonia from the urine inside the home was so overpowering that authorities had to wear masks in order to breathe. The case was under investigation.

September 2015/Warwick, Rhode Island: WJAR reported that authorities seized 11 dogs from the operator of a self-professed animal “rescue” group doing business as Pit Bulls for PTSD, which kept them in “squalid” conditions. Two of the dogs required emergency veterinary care, and the home was condemned. ProvidenceJournal.com reported that the operator was charged with cruelty to animals for failing to provide adequate living conditions and medical care and with mistreatment of animals for failing to provide adequate water.

August 2015/Port Charlotte, Florida: WINKNews.com reported that the president of Every Creature’s Salvation animal “rescue” was charged with criminal cruelty to animals and animal abandonment after a dog in her custody was found “emaciated and malnourished.” The dog was reportedly so weak that she had difficulty walking.

August 2015/Balch Springs, Texas: DallasNews.com reported that authorities seized 107 cats (five of whom had already died), 40 dogs, three doves, two chickens, a finch, a parakeet who had died, and a guinea pig from the home of a woman who “was part of an individual animal rescue group.” Dozens more animals were found dead on the property, and necropsies reportedly determined that at least some of them died as a result of neglect. Many animals were found in urine- and feces-soaked cages and crates, were crawling with fleas and ticks, and suffered from eye and ear discharge, hair loss, matted fur, and overgrown toenails. Others were emaciated, and one was missing an eye.

August 2015/Victor Township, Michigan: LansingStateJournal.com reported that charges would not be filed against a man who had abandoned four dogs, three of whom were hit and killed by cars, because he had first tried to surrender the dogs to three animal shelters, which refused to accept them. The fourth dog reportedly “suffered trauma” but had been adopted and was recovering.

August 2015/Ontario, Canada: Nugget.ca reported that authorities seized 71 dogs from a self-professed animal “rescue” doing business as Laika Fund for Street Dogs—they were found in conditions described as “very crowded” and “unsanitary.” Many had no access to food or water. A donkey and goat were also found standing in feces nearly 2 feet deep in a small outbuilding. Miniature horses described as “fearful” and “underweight” were also found. According to an investigator, “[Y]ou were able to see their hip bones, the spines and a number of them had their ribs visible.” Dogs and birds were found in “very dirty and unsanitary” cages that lined a wall of the home. Caged dogs were observed “shaking, trembling and hiding,” and ammonia levels were a danger to both animals and humans. The cages confining birds had apparently not been cleaned for least a month. A hearing was scheduled before the local Animal Care Review Board.

August 2015/Pulaski Township, Pennsylvania: NCNewsOnline.com reported that authorities seized 13 dogs from a woman described as “a well-known volunteer for local animal rescue organizations” and charged her with criminal cruelty to animals after the animals were found living in “deplorable conditions.” Despite being warned not to, a “rescue” group in Ohio reportedly gave the “rescuer” another dog after she had been charged with cruelty to animals. That dog, as well as a dog who had produced at least two litters of puppies at the property, was among those seized. This was reportedly the second time that the “rescuer” had been charged—she faced criminal charges the previous year after one dead and two emaciated horses were found in a barn at her property.

August 2015/Henryville, Pennsylvania: KOLOTV.com reported that authorities removed 122 cats from a “squalid” home, where they were found in “filthy, flea-infested conditions,” some suffering as a result of untreated injuries. The homeowners said they were planning to open an animal “sanctuary.” The cats were surrendered to authorities.

August 2015/Rapid City, South Dakota: KOTATV.com reported that 36 rabbits, dogs, and goats were seized from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as Carmine’s Academy Rescue, where they were found emaciated, without access to food or water, and in filthy conditions. The “rescuer” pleaded guilty to failure to remove a public nuisance after notice and was ordered by a judge to stop working with animal shelters and operating a “rescue.”

August 2015/Monroe County, Ohio: TodeloBlade.com reported that because of the county animal control shelter’s “no-kill” policies, it was turning away all animals whose owners couldn’t or wouldn’t provide them with care any longer. The policies had reportedly led animals to stay at the shelter for a longer time and more animals to be given up by their owners.

August 2015/Akron, Ohio: Cleveland.com reported that a self-professed animal “rescuer” was charged with four counts of criminal cruelty to animals after authorities found at least 12 cats dead from starvation, dogs and guinea pigs confined to cages without access to food or water, and animals caged throughout the feces-covered home, which was condemned. Neighbors reportedly told police that the “rescuer” buried other animals in the backyard. More charges were being considered.

July 2015/Warrick County, Indiana: CourierPress.com reported that two women who ran Bullie Nation Rescue were facing 11 counts of cruelty to animals after authorities found five dogs at the residence of one of the operators, at least three of whom were underfed. Officials visited the residence after two “severely underfed” dogs who came from the “rescue” were surrendered to a local animal shelter and two more were surrendered to another local shelter. One of the perpetrators reportedly told investigators that the dogs in her custody were malnourished because she couldn’t afford to buy food for them and that she had closed the “rescue” and felt that she was no longer responsible for the animals’ needs.

July 2015/Waxahachie, Texas: NBCDFW.com reported that the operator of a dog-training facility and self-professed animal “rescuer” was charged with cruelty to animals after authorities removed 20 dead animals as well as 69 dogs, three cats, and one macaw from the property. Many of the animals were confined to cages, and several were reportedly covered with fleas, had overgrown nails, and were malnourished and emaciated.

July 2015/Stratford, Connecticut: CTPost.com reported that the owner of the Alabama-based Southern Dogs Rescue was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after she was found hauling an unventilated box trailer loaded with nearly 30 dogs. Inside the stifling trailer, authorities found crates stacked on top of each other containing panting, distressed dogs. The dogs were taken to veterinary hospitals for treatment. At the time of her arrest, the “rescuer” was reportedly on probation after being convicted of 25 counts of cruelty to animals. An Alabama court had ordered her to get out of the animal-rescue business.

July 2015/Ossipee, New Hampshire: NH1.com reported that more than 50 animals were seized after being found in deplorable conditions at an animal boarding and grooming business that also operated as a “rescue.” Dogs were reportedly found “packed into small crates” and covered with excrement in what one responder described as an “Auschwitz for dogs.” Authorities were reportedly considering filing criminal charges against the owner.

June 2015/Pope County, Arkansas: LocalMemphis.com reported that the operator of I Love Lucy Pet Rescue was arrested on suspicion of having sex with dogs in his custody. One dog was taken to a local animal shelter, but it wasn’t reported if other animals were found at the property. An investigation was ongoing.

June 2015/Kingston Township, Pennsylvania: CitizensVoice.com reported that the operator of A Positive Promise Pit Bill Foundation was convicted of two counts of cruelty to animals after authorities found two emaciated dogs living amid feces and urine at the property. The dogs were taken to two area animal shelters, and one was reportedly put up for adoption.

June 2015/Wyoming, Minnesota: KSTP.com reported that a man was accused of throwing a dog out of his car window. A police investigation reportedly revealed that the man had tried to surrender the dog to a local animal shelter but was turned away. He claimed to have also tried to give the dog away on Craigslist. When he had no luck, he threw the dog from the car. He was issued a citation for animal neglect. The dog wasn’t injured and was taken to a shelter that would accept the animal.

June 2015/Vernon Parish, Louisiana: TheTownTalk.com reported that the operators of an animal “rescue” group were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals after authorities found malnourished and dead animals at their residence. According to the report, “none of the animals on the property had adequate food or water.” The animals were all removed.

June 2015/Charleston, West Virginia: WSAZ.com reported that 22 cats were seized from Karen and Friends animal “rescue” after they were found hoarded in “deplorable conditions” in a home with no electricity or running water. One of the cats was dead, and officials were searching for two additional animals. Investigators reportedly found no food, water, or clean litterboxes in the home. The cats were described as “all in poor health,” and some were suffering from ringworm and giardiasis. Criminal charges were being considered.

June 2015/Dumont, New Jersey: CliffViewPilot.com reported that the operator of Pit Bull Kisses Rescue was charged with 26 counts of cruelty to animals after authorities found dead animals in a house with live dogs and a “starved cat” and dogs chained in the yard without adequate shelter. Surviving animals were reportedly “extremely thin,” and conditions in the house were described as “horrid.” All the animals were removed.

June 2015/Blacklick, Ohio: NewarkAdvocate.com reported that the co-director of One Mission Dog Rescue was charged with cruelty to animals after authorities removed 62 animals found hoarded at the property without access to water. Seven of the animals died after they were removed, six from the highly contagious and deadly parvovirus. Nearly all the dogs were reportedly imported by One Mission Dog Rescue from West Virginia, Kentucky, or a neighboring county.

May 2015/Hillsboro, Oregon: KOMONews.com reported that nine cats burned alive in a garage where they were confined at Felines First Rescue. Seven of them had reportedly been transported to the “rescue” from a shelter in California to “save” them from euthanasia. Investigators reported that the fire’s cause was “electrical in nature” but were still working to pinpoint how it started.

May 2015/Fruitport, Michigan: GrandHavenTribune.com reported that operations were shut down and police were considering criminal charges against the operator of Christine’s Critter Cafe animal “rescue” after authorities found thousands of animals hoarded at the property, including dogs, cats, and domestic rats. Investigators found drywall soaked with urine and feces and live animals feeding on dead ones. The home was condemned. FOX17Online.com reported that all the animals were being removed and placed in shelters and foster homes.

May 2015/Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: WPXI.com reported that police arrested a woman who worked with “several rescues in the Pittsburgh area” and charged her with cruelty to animals after finding a starving dog and five dead dogs apparently abandoned at her property. The animals were believed to have been abandoned at the woman’s home for weeks. The surviving dog was being treated at the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center.

May 2015/Milton, Georgia: WSBTV.com reported that the operator of Georgia Poodle Rescue had received 26 citations because of unsanitary conditions inside a garage where dogs were kept confined. The operator was also charged with theft for failing to return a dog after an owner came forward.

May 2015/Apple Valley, California: VVDailyPress.com reported that authorities removed 12 starving dogs from the residence of a woman who claimed to be a “transporter” and “foster home” for animal-rescue organizations. After their removal, one of the dogs reportedly died on the way to a veterinary hospital and two had to be euthanized “due to illness caused by starvation.” Authorities also reportedly found a dead dog in a trash can on the property. The remaining nine dogs were being cared for, and criminal charges were being considered.

April 2015/Orange City, Florida: News-JournalOnline.com reported that a man was charged with felony cruelty to animals after police determined that he had abandoned a dog behind a building. The dog was left inside a crate without access to food or water and went unnoticed for weeks. A good Samaritan took the dog to an animal hospital, and the animal’s owner was found. The owner told police that he had taken the dog to a local animal shelter but couldn’t afford the $20 fee charged to accept the animal. He then left the dog next to a dumpster behind a building, where the animal was exposed to the elements, developed a skin condition, and was found suffering from internal parasites and infections in both eyes, resulting in complete blindness in one eye and permanent damage to the other. The dog was being treated.

April 2015/Dayton, Ohio: MINBCNews.com reported that a humane society removed 62 dogs from a so-called “rescue group” run by a woman who apparently imported the animals from animal shelters in West Virginia and Kentucky. NewarkAdvocate.com reported that the dogs were signed over to the humane society during an investigation into allegations that the animals were running in the road and lacked access to water. Veterinary examinations revealed that the animals were infested with internal parasites and some were infected with parvovirus. At least five puppies died from disease shortly after they were removed from the “rescue.” Criminal charges were reportedly being considered.t.

April 2015/Eden, Vermont: StoweToday.com reported that a self-professed “dog rescuer” had been charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals after authorities removed approximately 100 dogs from her property, where they were confined in “appalling conditions—locked in cages without access to food or clean water, lying in their own feces, many with festering wounds resembling bed sores.” The report stated that the city’s animal control officer was removed from office after it came to light that he acted as vice president of the woman’s “rescue organization,” which he called “Bark Rescue.”

March 2015/Anderson County, South Carolina: WYFF4.com reported that the operator of Golden S Rescue was charged with 60 counts of ill treatment of animals after authorities seized 60 animals, including dogs and cats, from her property. Some of the animals were in need of veterinary attention, some were confined without access to water, and some appeared underweight. According to the report, in February 2014 the operator was arrested twice on similar charges, once when 11 dogs were found critically ill and had to be seized and two weeks later when more than 100 animals needed to be removed from the “rescue’s” property. In September 2014, the operator was convicted of maltreatment of animals.

March 2015/Columbia County, Georgia: WJBF.com reported that Lucky Dog Rescue was under investigation after authorities visited the operator’s home, which was full of urine, feces, and mold, and found many dogs living in crates only big enough for them to turn around and lie down. Officers reportedly counted 22 animals in the home, most of whom were aggressive, and issued 22 citations to the “rescue’s” operator. Other groups were trying to obtain some of the animals from the operator, and authorities planned to re-inspect the property.

March 2015/Jacksonville, Florida: News4Jax.com reported that approximately 83 dogs had been removed from Dogs Deserve Life Rescue. City officials were reportedly evaluating the health of the dogs, some of whom were found in two warehouses. The case was under investigation, and it was not reported if charges would be pursued.

March 2015/Middleburg, Florida: ActionNewsJax.com reported that the operator of Kim’s Itty Bitty Babies animal “rescue” surrendered 12 dogs to the Clay County Animal Care & Control and told officials that she planned to stop operating after three dogs in her custody had contracted parvovirus. According to the report, multiple complaints had previously been filed against the “rescue’s” operator, her boyfriend, and the rescue itself, which has hoarded as many as 86 animals at one time at the residential property.

March 2015/Floyd County, Georgia: NorthwestGeorgiaNews.com reported that the operations manager of the Rome-Floyd Humane Society was cited with 57 counts of cruelty to animals and unsanitary conditions after authorities found 55 to 65 dogs and cats living in “unacceptable” conditions at his home. Some animals recently obtained from the county’s animal control shelter were found suffering from upper respiratory problems. Officials removed 29 animals, and a magistrate hearing has been scheduled.

March 2015/Olive Branch, Mississippi: WMCActionNews5.com reported that two members of New Beginnings Animal Rescue were charged with cruelty to animals after a fire killed 60 cats and a dog hoarded in the home. Fire investigators told the outlet that they believe a cat walking on the stove had managed to turn it on, which eventually caught the kitchen on fire. The home was described as “a hoarding house filled with clutter and feces.”

March 2015/Deer Park, New York: Newsday.com reported that after an elderly dog was turned away from two animal shelters that said they were full, a woman abandoned the dog on the street. A good Samaritan found the dog, who was injured, and took him to an animal hospital, where a toe had to be amputated. A microchip in the animal led authorities to the owner who had abandoned him. The dog was undergoing treatment at the hospital, and the owner was charged with a misdemeanor.

March 2015/Albuquerque, New Mexico: ABQJournal.com reported that a complaint had been filed with the city’s Office of Inspector General by the Animal Welfare Department’s second-in-command and its behavior specialist, the latter of whom recently resigned “out of frustration and alarm for the community.” The complaint alleges that in its push to make the city’s animal shelter “no-kill,” the shelter had released more than 100 dogs who failed “nationally recognized standardized tests that showed the animals had dangerous tendencies.” Some of the animals went on to kill and maim other animal companions, bite children, and attack their handlers.

March 2015/Parkersburg, West Virginia: WVGazette.com reported that the operator of Ellen’s Rescue was charged with cruelty to animals after authorities removed approximately 50 dogs and cats from her residence. The home’s subfloor was soaked with urine and covered with feces, and two of the dogs needed emergency treatment—one for a broken jaw and one for a severe skin condition. Most of the dogs were also matted and filthy, and several had sores and eye and ear conditions.

March 2015/St. Petersburg, Florida: TBO.com reported that the operators of All Creatures Great and Small Wildlife Inc. were facing cruelty-to-animals charges after authorities removed 23 adult dogs, 14 puppies, 14 cats, five raccoons, several ducks, an opossum, a rabbit, and a pigeon from the residence, where they were found in unsanitary conditions without food or drinkable water and surrounded by feces. TampaBay.com reported that Hillsborough County Animal Services had recently transferred 49 animals to the group and sent 21 additional dogs and cats to the group for foster care.

February 2015/Auburn, Alabama: OANow.com reported that the owner of Southern Dogs Rescue was convicted of five counts of second-degree cruelty to animals after authorities found approximately 20 malnourished, starving dogs on her property. The animals were reportedly confined to outdoor kennels filled with feces and mud. They didn’t have any food, and the water available to them was “stagnant and green or black in color.” A veterinarian who treated six of the dogs told ThePlainsman.com that the animals weighed approximately half of their normal body weight and that one of the dogs died shortly after being removed because he or she didn’t respond to treatmen

February 2015/Mountain View, Arkansas: BaxterBulletin.com reported that nearly 100 dogs had been removed from a “self-described ‘no-kill’ dog rescue” called Innocent Hearts Animal Rescue following an investigation by the local sheriff’s office. The “rescue” reportedly acknowledged that it lacked needed resources to care for the dogs, who were kept in kennels and outdoor pens and who ranged in age from 2-days to 10-years-old. Many of the dogs had not been sterilized and some were pregnant. The dogs were voluntarily surrendered.

February 2015/Phoenix, Arizona: ABC15.com reported that former volunteers at a self-described “no-kill” animal “rescue” called Woofs, Wiggles, n Wags alleged that “inattention, overcrowding and filthy conditions” at the “rescue” had led to the death of at least one animal. A kitten was allegedly found by a volunteer hanging dead from a cage after his or her foot became tangled in the cage’s wires, and accusers claimed that animals were left alone in cramped, dirty cages for up to 22 hours a day. Local businesses had also reportedly complained about a strong odor of urine and feces from the “rescue’s” strip mall location seeping into their shops. It was not reported if an official investigation into the allegations had been undertaken.

February 2015/Winter Haven, Florida: TheLedger.com reported that the operator of the Polk County Cat Coalition was facing 32 criminal charges after authorities removed 91 cats, two caged dogs, and a pig hoarded at her property. The charges were reportedly in relation to 32 of the cats, who were so sick that they had to be euthanized. Animal control workers reportedly had to wear facemasks during the raid because of the overwhelming stench of urine in the home. A later report revealed that the operator was convicted of five misdemeanor charges of confining animals without sufficient food, water or exercise.

February 2015/Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland.com reported that more than sixty percent of 145 cats removed by authorities from The Cat Crossing, a self-professed “no-kill cat sanctuary,” were ill. Sixteen percent were reportedly infected with feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus, more than a third were being treated for respiratory infections, many had severe dental disease, and others were being treated for wounds, ear infections, diarrhea or skin problems, according to authorities. ClevelandScene.com reported that the animals were seized after authorities executed a search warrant citing “overcrowded conditions among a heavy accumulation of feces and urine,” poor air quality and rampant highly contagious diseases. The animals were reportedly receiving appropriate care and being held as evidence pending a court hearing.

January 2015/ Chartiers Township, Pennsylvania: Observer-Reporter.com reported that a so-called “no-kill shelter and sanctuary” called Angel Ridge Animal Rescue and its owner were cited for failing to keep kennels in a sanitary and humane condition in regard to temperatures and “pests,” keep necessary records, produce a bill of sale for a dog, and for dealing with an unlicensed out-of-state dealer. The citations were reportedly issued after the local dog warden responded to a complaint about conditions at the facility.

January 2015/Niagara, New York: BuffaloNews.com reported that approximately 35 cats and dogs were removed by authorities after they were found hoarded at the residential property of the executive director of the “no-kill” group, Eastern Niagara Animal Welfare Alliance. Many of the cats were reportedly suffering from upper respiratory infections and dehydration and a small dog had wounds apparently sustained during a dog attack. An official called it, “a clear case of animal hoarding.”

January 2015/San Antonio, Texas: MySanAntonio.com reported that a spokesperson for the city’s Animal Care Services told the outlet that a man threw a young Chihuahua from a car and sped away after becoming upset that the shelter “wouldn’t immediately take his dog.” Staff members reportedly found the dog and took him inside.

December 2014/Lowell, Indiana: NWITimes.com reported that authorities removed ten live and two dead dogs from a “no-kill” shelter reportedly run by PawsHere Foundation, Inc. The ten live dogs were reportedly emaciated, dirty, and living in feces and urine. The two dead dogs were also emaciated and appeared to have died from exposure or starvation. Authorities were not sure if all of the surviving dogs would make it and described them as being in “very bad shape.” A mass grave with “numerous canine remains” was reportedly also found on the property, which a Lake County Sheriff’s Department Detective reportedly described as “completely disgusting.” Charges of animal neglect and harboring non-immunized dogs were reportedly expected to be brought against the “rescue’s” owner.

December 2014/Lake Oswego, Oregon: PortlandTribune.com reported that the operator of Oregon Cat Project had been charged with two counts of animal neglect in the second degree after police investigated a complaint alleging “several cats locked in cages without care” at the group’s shelter. One of the charges was reportedly in relation to the medical condition of a cat left at a Petco store, where the group allegedly abandoned 42 cats, “many of whom had upper respiratory infections and other medical problems.”

December 2014/Lakewood, Washington: TheNewsTribune.com reported that PURRR Rescue had been “pushed out” of two towns after incidents in which the organization reportedly adopted out dangerous dogs who killed other animals. In one reported incident, one hour after being adopted a dog obtained through PURRR killed the adopting family’s cat. A few days later, the same dog reportedly “broke out of her cage, busted through two doors” and killed the family’s 10-week-old kitten. Two other families shared similar stories—they reportedly adopted from PURRR dogs who killed “a pair of dogs in two incidents over a 15-day span.”

November 2014/Bradley County, Tennessee: TimesFreePress.com reported that the board of directors of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County had decided to abandon the shelter’s “no-kill” mission. A spokesperson for the group reportedly stated that, “[t]here is a capacity of that building…There’s also a capacity of the revenue for us to care for and provide food and waste services for the animals that are there.”

November 2014/ Oneida County, New York: LegalNewsline.com reported that Lucky Dog Rescue, run by the company Mohawk Valley Inc., which had allegedly been illegally raising funds, was shut down by an order of the Supreme Court of Oneida County. The “rescue” and its registered owner allegedly raised money by promoting itself as a dog shelter that housed neglected, abandoned and abused dogs. The New York Attorney General alleged that very few animals benefited from the funds.

November 2014/Las Vegas, Nevada: JRN.com reported that former volunteers at Southern Nevada Bully Breed Rescue (SNBBR) alleged that dogs at the facility “were crated for up to 20 hours a day, rarely got fresh air and often were kept in darkness with little human contact. … [S]ome crates were completely covered.” Aggressive dogs were reportedly kept in total isolation and darkness in a room called “the box.” SNBBR reportedly obtained many dogs from a local open-admission shelter operated by The Animal Foundation through an agreement that was ended in August 2014 after SNBBR was evicted from a building it had been using.

November 2014/Gilmer, Texas: TylerPaper.com reported that two men who’d claimed to be operating a “rescue” group called Paws of Protection Rescue agreed to forfeit custody of 37 dogs seized by law-enforcement officials after the animals were found largely underweight and suffering from hair loss and “various infections.” Three dead dogs—one of whom had apparently been decapitated—were also reportedly removed. The men faced felony and misdemeanor cruelty-to-animals charges.

November 2014/Arleta, California: LATimes.com reported that cruelty-to-animals charges had been filed against a couple who allegedly obtained animals from local animal shelters and “then solicited donations from the public to help pay for the animals’ care.” Authorities reportedly removed nearly 100 dogs from the couple’s home. The dogs were said to be suffering from contagious diseases and had been confined to crowded cages that were “stacked like cargo boxes.” Several dogs were apparently emaciated, infested with intestinal parasites, suffering from mange and heartworm disease, and sick with upper respiratory infections. One dog’s paws were reportedly infected from standing in feces and urine.

November 2014/Eaton, Ohio: RegisterHerald.com reported that the Humane Society of Preble County’s Pet Center had become a “no-kill” facility for cats. The article stated, “The shelter wants the public to know, this means that the Pet Center cannot take in feral cats, or some adult cats. Healthy, socialized kittens will be admitted on a limited basis.”

November 2014/Wooster, Ohio: The-Daily-Record.com reported that a trial had begun for a woman who was charged with cruelty to animals after a “rescue” that she had been running out of her home was raided. ThePostNewspapers.com had identified the “rescue” in an earlier report as Bright Futures Rescue and Adoption. During the trial, evidence was presented that reportedly showed matted dog hair and a build-up of feces that was “carved off a dog cage.” Forty-seven dogs had reportedly been seized during the raid.

October 2014/Jackson, Missouri: KFVS12.com reported that the Missouri State Attorney General’s Office had filed a complaint against Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary and its operator alleging that the “sanctuary” had violated the state’s Animal Care Facilities Act by failing to provide the animals in its care with adequate veterinary treatment and to follow health and husbandry procedures. The facility was also accused of failing to keep sufficient records showing when and how animals in its care had died.

October 2014/North Franklin Township, Pennsylvania: Observer-Reporter.com reported that a woman running a volunteer “rescue” group called Marcia’s Muttley Crew out of her home faced nearly 60 citations, including some for cruelty to animals, filed by the state’s Department of Agriculture. At the time of the citations, the woman reportedly had 22 dogs at her home, and an air test revealed that the environment in the home was “not healthy.” She was reportedly ordered to reduce the canine population at the residence to four.

October 2014/Belton, South Carolina: IndepententMail.com reported that the operator of J’s Kitten Cottage “rescue” was facing a felony charge of misusing more than $11,000 that was solicited to care for homeless cats. She instead allegedly spent the money on personal expenses. The operator was reportedly charged with ill treatment of animals in June 2014 after police removed 69 cats from her home, 37 of whom were reportedly dead. The 32 surviving cats had been taken to the county’s animal shelter.

October 2014/Austin, Texas: KVUE.com reported that the city’s “no-kill” animal shelter was 90 percent over capacity and that adoptions were down.

September 2014/Atwater, California: FresnoBee.com reported that an inspection of the Last Hope Cat Kingdom “no-kill” facility by Merced County authorities documented unsanitary conditions, including excessive amounts of feces in litterboxes and on the ground. Inspectors reportedly also observed a cat whose eye was encrusted with discharge.

September 2014/Warsaw, New York: TheDailyNewsOnline.com reported authorities had removed more than 100 cats, both dead and alive, and at least one dead dog from the residence of the operators of Little Paws Big Hearts animal “rescue.” The owners were reportedly charged with misdemeanor torturing or injuring animals, and the home was condemned. A Wyoming County animal control officer on the scene reported that many of the animals were dehydrated and had symptoms of contagious diseases. Several cats reportedly had to be euthanized immediately because of the severity of their illnesses. Conditions were apparently so vile that the veterinarians working to assist in the removal and treatment of the animals became ill.

September 2014/Calgary, Canada: SunNewsNetwork.ca reported that an SUV hauling a horse trailer carrying 30 dogs from California to Edmonton in the company of two “animal rescuers” rolled over on Highway 2. Two dogs were reportedly killed in the impact, and 20 were hurt. A third dog died after the accident. Six of the surviving dogs were reportedly taken to a local shelter. It was unclear what happened to the others.

September 2014/McAllen, Texas: TheMonitor.com reported that the owner of Franklin All Animal Rescue Team (FAART) had been cited for “city ordinance violations regarding animal care at his property, ” that he was suspected of having been involved in dogfighting at one time, and that another group had “received sick dogs from [FAART] who were being transported to different shelters and foster homes.” FAART’s owner would reportedly be expected in court in relation to the animal care citation.

August 2014/Yolo County, California: News10.net reported that authorities removed 11 emaciated and “severely neglected” Rottweilers from Second Chance Rottweiler Rescue, where they were found living amid their own feces. The animals’ conditions reportedly ranged from serious to critical, and another three dogs were found dead at the property. Multiple counts of cruelty-to-animals charges were being considered.

August 2014/Fountain Hills, Arizona: KPHO.com reported that a “cat rescue volunteer” had been arrested and charged with 18 counts of cruelty to animals after authorities found 50 cats in a home in which investigators were reportedly “walking through literally 2 feet of feces.” The outlet reported: “A 15-year career animal crimes deputy, Dave Evans, who has investigated numerous homicides and meth labs, stressed what he saw and smelled there was unlike anything he has ever encountered …. ‘The stench from the cat urine and feces was so unbearable, we considered calling a hazmat team to clear the area,’ Evans said. ‘It was far worse than any homicide scene I’ve investigated.’”

August 2014/St. Lucie County, Florida: TCPalm.com reported that approximately 80 animals had been removed from a “no-kill” shelter operated by All Pet Rescue after they were found confined to tiny cages, “with barely enough room [to] turn around” in an uninsulated metal warehouse without air conditioning. The only water available to the animals was reportedly “covered with green algae” and “not fit to drink.”

August 2014/Olympia, Washington: KONP.com reported that the Washington State Attorney General’s Office had sued the founder of Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS) alleging that the “sanctuary” had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations without having registered as a charity with the secretary of state. OAS was also accused of failing to maintain records showing how the charitable donations had been spent.

August 2014/McClain County, Oklahoma: KOCO.com reported that authorities were investigating conditions at Forgotten Angels Animal Sanctuary after having received complaints from a volunteer at the “sanctuary” who had reportedly claimed to have seen dogs there infested with fleas and ticks and with open, oozing wounds and green secretions running from their eyes and noses.

August 2014/Calverton, New York: NewYork.CBSLocal.com reported that a court had ordered Precious Pups dog “rescue” to close after allegations were made that neglected dogs were being obtained by the “rescue” and then simply resold, apparently for a profit and without receiving needed veterinary medical care.

August 2014/Monroe County, Pennsylvania: PoconoRecord.com reported that the manager of a “no-kill” shelter called Animal Welfare Society of Monroe had been bitten by a cat who was being turned away along with her “several sick kittens” by the shelter. The shelter’s operations director reportedly told the outlet: “We don’t take in feral cats because they’re not adoptable and no one knows what kinds of diseases they might have. … We generally don’t take animals that are too aggressive to approach because they’re likewise not adoptable .…We also generally don’t take animals with scratch or bite marks because they might have gotten those wounds from other possibly rabid animals .…” What ultimately happened to the cat and kittens was not reported.

August 2014/San Antonio, Texas: ExpressNews.com reported that in an effort to win a $100,000 prize in a contest to euthanize the fewest animals of 50 shelters in the area, the San Antonio Animal Care Services (SAACS) shelter had reportedly become crowded with sick animals and had stopped accepting stray animals taken to the shelter by members of the public.

August 2014/Highlands County, Florida: HighlandsToday.com reported that animal abandonment was increasing in the area. A local “no-kill for space” shelter told the outlet that when citizens find out that the shelter is full, they often abandon the animals in front of the building, along a busy road. The group’s president said, “We see dead animals in front of our facility all the time.”

July 2014/LaPlace, Louisiana: NOLA.com reported that the owner of Happy Yappy Doggy Rescue had been jailed on charges relative to “operating an illegal dog rescue service” that reportedly had been keeping 50 dogs in unsanitary conditions. Some animals were reportedly confined to plastic travel carriers soiled with urine and feces, and others were confined to a garage. Some of the animals were housed without food, water, or adequate air circulation. The animals were removed by authorities.

July 2014/Lancaster, Ohio: LancasterEagleGazette.com reported that two cats were shot by a trailer park resident—one of the animals was killed, and the other reportedly sustained life-threatening injuries. The executive director of the local humane society reportedly told the outlet that the incident sheds light on a local stray cat problem and that the shelter is “at its capacity for cats.” He added, “We get those calls on a daily basis.” He said that if there were no limit as to how many cats the society could handle, dozens would be dropped off every day. One man reportedly visited the shelter and said that if he couldn’t leave the cat, he was “just going to shoot it.”

July 2014/Bradley County, Tennessee: WRCB-TV reported that the SPCA of Bradley County was violating the county’s contract by turning animals away. The news report was prompted after a boy in the community was mauled by a dog—animal shelter workers didn’t pick the canine up until one day after the attack occurred.

July 2014/Macon, Georgia: Macon.com reported that a former volunteer with Macon Purrs N Paws was charged with 17 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after 15 cats and dogs were found “alive but in bad shape” in an abandoned house that had no running water, electricity, or air conditioning. The animals had apparently been without food, water, and other care for at least two days, and rescuers had to wear face masks because of the strong foul odor. The cats were reportedly found in small carriers with little room to move and no access to litterboxes, and one cat was found dead.

July 2014/North Las Vegas, Nevada: JRN.com reported that 112 cats had been removed from a local animal “rescuer’s” home that reportedly lacked running water and air conditioning. The floor reportedly was covered with feces that was approximately 1 inch deep. Some of the cats reportedly had feces matted to their faces, and at least two animal control officers had to be treated at the scene after becoming overwhelmed by the strong foul odor. Charges were being considered.

July 2014/Wolfe City, Texas: Dallas.CultureMap.com reported that authorities seized approximately 222 animals from a “no-kill” facility called the Frank Barchard Memorial Shelter after finding them cruelly confined and in need of medical care. Two kittens, one cat, and a puppy were reportedly found dead. Investigators reportedly said that other animals had been found suffering from open wounds, eye and nasal discharge, hair loss, open surgery incisions, matted hair, tick infestation, long nails, missing eyes, and other health problems. Some were also underweight. It was not reported whether criminal charges were being pursued.

July 2014/Monroe County, Pennsylvania: PAHomePage.com reported that the “no-kill” Animal Welfare Society of Monroe was full and had not been accepting animals for more than a week. The shelter’s operations manager reportedly told the outlet, “We have had phone calls from people over the entire summer that a dog has been left in a house or that people lost their home or moved out of their apartment.”

July 2014/Dayton, Ohio: DaytonDailyNews.com reported that more than a dozen dogs were removed from a suspected dog “rescue” operation where they were found being housed in unfit living conditions. During a court hearing, videos and photographs were shown that revealed “animal feces and dried blood on the floor, walls, countertops and other areas of the house, as well as empty food and water bowls, trash, and packages of used and unused animal vaccinations.” The dogs who were removed were reportedly underweight and suffered from eye and skin infections and other medical conditions. Criminal charges of cruelty to and neglect of animals were reportedly pending.

July 2014/Thibodaux, Louisiana: ShreveportTimes.com reported that the founder of We Stand Bayou animal “rescue” was arrested and charged with 14 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of cruelty to a juvenile after authorities found animals in poor health as well as a child walking barefoot in animal feces inside the home.

July 2014/Kanawha County, West Virginia: WVGazette.com reported that area animal-related businesses have seen an increase in the number of animals abandoned at their establishments since the local animal shelter became a “no-kill” facility and is now “full beyond capacity” with a waiting list for people to turn in animals they can’t or won’t care for. A local business owner told the outlet, “I have been in the kennel business all of my life, predominantly here in West Virginia, and I have never [until now] seen the influx of animals running loose in the neighborhood. I have never [until now] seen people standing on the side of the road holding signs up saying, ‘The animal shelter is full, please help.’”

July 2014/San Fernando Valley, California: The Los Angeles Daily News reported that approximately 100 dogs were removed from Los Angelitos de Dios animal “rescue” after authorities found them “living in deplorable conditions.” More dogs were reportedly removed from a second location. The case was still under investigation.

June 2014/Detroit, Michigan: MyFoxDetroit.com reported that approximately 35 live cats and “dozens” of dead ones had been removed from the home of a local animal “rescuer.” Many of the live cats reportedly required medical treatment, and the home was “covered in urine and feces and infested with fleas.” Dead cats were reportedly found on the floor, in boxes, in garbage bags, in cages, in kennels, and in the home’s garage. An investigation was undertaken but it had not been determined whether the “rescuer” would face criminal charges.

June 2014/Kansas City, Missouri: KansasCity.com reported that after running out of room to house animals, the Kansas City’s taxpayer-funded “no-kill” animal shelter was keeping animals in “bathrooms, closets, locker rooms, the basement and even the employee break room.”

June 2014/Oak Park, Illinois: OakPark.com reported that community members and current and former employees of the Animal Care League met to discuss concerns about quality of life for animals at the shelter as well as allegations that the facility was adopting out dangerous dogs, including one who killed an adopter’s cat within hours of being taken home and another available dog who has injured several volunteers. Veterinarian Dr. Mary Eisenlohr reportedly shared concerns about ACL’s desire to be considered a “no-kill” shelter. She reportedly explained that, in the words of OakPark.com, “while the public may think this is good, it is actually harmful because it means that the shelter is running out of space for other animals, resulting in a trickle-down effect of inhumane living conditions and overflow of animals at this and other local shelters.”

June 2014/Ukiah, California: UkiahDailyJournal.com reported that the Mendocino County Animal Shelter was found by a grand jury to be overcrowded, confining animals to crates, and keeping some animals at the shelter for a year or longer. The grand jury reported that “keeping a dog in a four-by-eight-foot kennel or a cat in a two-by-three-foot cage for a year or more is cruel treatment.” The jury found that conditions at the “no-kill” facility were “severely detrimental to the well-being of the animals” and that the shelter also gives the impression to animal control officers that “they would rather not have (officers) bring in animals, (which) results in officers working with owners longer than usual in cases of abuse or neglect rather than confiscating animals.”

June 2014/Clarksville, Tennessee: The Leaf-Chronicle reported that authorities found 37 bags filled with dead dogs in a barn where a “no-kill” animal “rescue” called RRR Service Dogs kept dogs who were “saved” from animal shelters.Because of the severe decomposition of the animals, authorities reported that charges couldn’t be filed in their deaths. According to Sgt. Sean Ryan, “They were so far gone, you couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was horrible.” However, 37 dogs were living inside the same barn, many without food or water, and some were so emaciated that the “rescuer” was charged with cruelty to animals. Most of the dogs were in cages, some too small for them to stand up or turn around. Authorities also found the rotting remains of four puppies who were allegedly locked in cages and left to starve to death at another home that the “rescuer” had vacated.

June 2014/Birmingham, Alabama: WAFF.com reported that authorities removed 13 dogs and two cats from the Birmingham Animal Adoption Rescue Center (BAARC), a “no-kill” animal “rescue” that was allegedly operating without a license. Some of the animals were malnourished and suffering from skin diseases when they were found in “unacceptable” conditions. A business license posted in the building was reportedly issued to an unassociated enterprise. “We are viewing it as a scam,” Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale said. WAFF.com reported that “[p]eople who find stray animals pay a fee and turn over the animals to the shelter hoping they will be adopted.”

June 2014/Roswell, New Mexico: KRQE.com reported that three dogs escaped from a “no-kill” animal rescue called Doggy Saviors and attacked a 9-year-old boy who sustained puncture wounds to his neck, chest, arms, and legs. The dogs also chewed off part of his ears. Two of the dogs were shot at the scene, one fatally. The injured dog later had to be euthanized because of the extent of the animal’s injuries, and the third dog was impounded by animal control.

June 2014/Austin, Texas: KEYETV.com reported that the Austin City Council was examining ways to address severe crowding at the Austin Animal Center by budgeting to pay for 120 additional kennels at the facility. Approximately $1.2 million in city funds, in addition to $1 million in grants, could pay for 60 kennels, and another $2.8 million in city funds could pay for another 60 kennels. Council Member Mike Martinez reportedly said that the shelter needs these two options in order to maintain its “no-kill” status.

June 2014/Hernando County, Florida: WFTS-TV reported that authorities found 47 dogs and three cats being kept inhumanely at The Cuddly Pooch Rescue, where many of the animals were living crammed into crates that appeared not to have been cleaned for months. Excrement was reportedly up to 2 inches deep in some areas. Authorities planned to cite the owner after the completion of an investigation.

May 2014/Williamson County, Texas: KEYE-TV reported that the “no-kill” Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter was so severely crowded that a mother dog and her puppies were being housed in a bathroom. The shelter took in 52 animals in one day, and a spokesperson told the outlet that the facility can’t handle all the animals.

May 2014/Trimble County, Kentucky: MadisonCourier.com reported that two people involved with a “no-kill” shelter called Cat Purr Sanctuary were facing more than three dozen charges of cruelty to animals after authorities found 25 cats at the facility in negligent conditions that included a lack of medical care, food, water, and a clean living area.

May 2014/Caledonia, Wisconsin: RacineUncovered.org reported that humane officials removed 80 dogs, nine cats, and two pigs from three locations associated with a “no-kill” animal “rescue” doing business as Orphan Kanines. Animals reportedly suffered from untreated medical conditions, including “eye and ear infections, sores on their feet from standing in urine and feces, topical wounds, upper respiratory infections, respiratory distress, infected skin, bleeding paws, significant matting and nail issues.” The pigs were both suffering from eye infections and hoof problems. Photos and video footage of conditions at the “no-kill” organization were made available online.

May 2014/Cheyenne, Wyoming: WyomingNews.com reported that a self-professed dog “rescuer” and alleged hoarder surrendered to authorities 53 of 57 dogs she claimed to be transporting to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. She gave up the animals after authorities found indications that they were being neglected in a transport trailer. Veterinarians examining the animals reportedly found that “the overall health of a number of the dogs was poor.” Animal control officials reported that none of the surrendered dogs would be returned to the “rescuer.”

April 2014/Baltimore, Maryland: CBS Baltimore reported that authorities with the Baltimore City Health Department’s Animal Control Program rescued approximately 35 cats from a self-professed “rescue” after responding to numerous complaints about poor conditions there. At Charm City Animal Rescue, authorities found “unsanitary conditions, including a strong smell of animal waste, unclean litter boxes and more than a dozen sick cats.” It wasn’t reported if charges were being considered or if an arrest would be made.

April 2014/Hialeah, Florida: WSVN.com reported that police serving an arrest warrant to the owner of Gigi’s Rescue for a previous case of animal hoarding found another 60 dogs in “deplorable conditions” at the property. The dogs were seized, and charges may be filed. The operator is facing 53 counts of cruelty to animals based on conditions in 2012 when dogs at the “rescue” were found ill and injured and had to be rescued from the same property. The investigation into the 2012 case was recently completed, leading to an arrest. The owner was being held on a $265,000 bond. The Miami Herald reported that police believe that so-called animal “rescues” had provided Gigi’s with animals who were originally transferred from the Miami-Dade County Animal Services shelter.

April 2014/Indianapolis, Indiana: WISHTV.com reported that animal shelters in central Indiana were full. Southside Animal Shelter, a “no-kill” facility, reported that it’s almost always full and “always” turns away animals.

April 2014/South Orange, New Jersey: TheAlternativePress.com reported that the Jersey Animal Coalition’s “no-kill” shelter was closed after an inspection found that its premises “were not cleaned of excessive feces and fecal residue.” According to the inspectors, proper precautions weren’t taken to prevent animals from getting sick and veterinary medical care wasn’t provided when needed. The building was quarantined, and an investigation into possible cruelty to and neglect of animals was undertaken.

April 2014/Union County, North Carolina: WMBFNews.com reported that an animal “rescuer” pressured the Rowan County Animal Shelter to release to her a dog who was scheduled for euthanasia because of unpredictable and aggressive behavior. Approximately two weeks later, the dog was involved in a “socialization session” in Union County during which he attacked three people. Emergency services responded to a 911 call, and a sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the dog because of continued aggression.

April 2014/Townsend, Montana: The Independent Record reported that the co-owners of Rocky Acres Horse Rescue were each charged with 34 counts of felony cruelty to animals and one count of misdemeanor cruelty to animals after an investigation revealed that the animals had inadequate and contaminated food and weren’t provided with adequate shelter. All the horses were thin to emaciated. Authorities removed 28 horses, 12 goats, a miniature mule, and a donkey, and the criminal case is pending.

April 2014/The Acreage, Florida: CBS12.com reported that Palm Beach County authorities removed 66 animals from a likely dog breeder doing business as Big and Small Paws Rescue. The animals were being kept in conditions described by officials as “horrific.” They reportedly had skin problems, some of which were severe. Dogs also had ear infections, dental problems, abscesses, and other medical conditions. One dog was close to death and had to be immediately euthanized. Their housing lacked adequate ventilation, and the stench of urine and feces was overpowering. Charges were reportedly pending. Just days earlier, Palm Beach County officials rescued 150 animals from deplorable conditions at another “rescue.” (See the March 2014 entry for Loxahatchee, Florida.)

March 2014/Miami, Florida: Local10.com reported that Miami-Dade Animal Services representatives had been filmed refusing to accept stray dogs picked up and taken to the shelter by Good Samaritans. In each case, shelter workers insisted that there was no room at the facility. In 2012, Miami-Dade County made the capricious decision to implement “no-kill” policies—which often include turning away animals and limiting intake hours—at its animal shelter.

March 2014/Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Philly.com reported that authorities removed 260 cats from the home of a self-professed animal “rescuer” doing business as “Animals in Crisis.” Conditions were so hazardous that authorities wore gas masks during the seizure. No charges had been filed, and the hoarder vowed to continue “rescuing” animals.

March 2014/Bethel, New York: The Times Herald-Record reported that 44 cats and nine other animals were removed from a notorious hoarder’s home that was operating as Bennies Buddies animal “rescue.” Animals were reportedly kept in crates stacked on top of each other and were denied food and water. A law-enforcement official reported, “Some of the animals were emaciated and most were living in their own feces.” The beaks of two roosters were reportedly so overgrown that they were unable to close their mouths. The property was condemned, and Bennies Buddies’ operator was facing dozens of criminal charges, making this at least the fifth time she has been charged with cruelty to animals in connection with her animal “rescue.”

March 2014/Loxahatchee, Florida: WPTV.com reported that 150 animals were removed by authorities from deplorable conditions at the property of a hoarder claiming to be running a “rescue.” Species removed included a miniature donkey, dogs, cats, geese, chickens, and goats. Approximately two-thirds of the animals rescued were in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized. The Palm Beach County director of animal control said of the animals, “They had leg and foot problems where literally their legs were falling off, many of the geese had no eyes.” Criminal charges are being considered.

March 2014/Austin, Texas: KXAN.com reported that the city’s “no-kill” animal shelter, the Austin Animal Center, was again overcapacity, leaving at least 60 animals at the facility without kennels. The contracting adoption shelter was also at capacity and was unable to take in more animals. The Austin Animal Center is routinely unable to accept animals because it’s full.

March 2014/Alachua County, Florida: Gainsville.com reported that affidavits were filed alleging cruelty to animals by the director of Phoenix Animal Rescue, including allegations that she kept dogs confined to wire crates in unsanitary conditions in a dark shed for lengthy periods of time and denied them adequate water and exercise. Windows of the shed were reportedly covered with a dark material day and night. There are also accusations that the director used a cattle prod on the genitals of dogs whom she felt were misbehaving. Criminal charges of cruelty to animals were being considered.

March 2014/Little Silver, New Jersey: USAToday.com reported that 300 animals, most of them dead, were found stacked in crates at the home of a woman who volunteered at the local animal shelter and a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Authorities removed the animals, 99 percent of whom were dead birds. Cruelty-to-animals charges were expected to be filed because of “improper living conditions.” The cause of the animals’ deaths was also being investigated.

March 2014/Elgin, Illinois: The Chicago Tribune reported that the operator of an animal “rescue” and petting zoo was arrested after a search of her property turned up dead animals, including a donkey, a goat, two miniature horses, and four chickens as well as other severely ill animals caged without water. Animal control officials took over the care of more than 90 animals, and the “rescue” owner was charged with cruelty to animals and failure to provide proper care and shelter.

February 2014/Cleveland, Tennessee: The TimesFreePress.com reported that more than 70 dogs were rescued from Puppy Patch, a self-proclaimed animal “rescue,” where dogs were found crowded into stacked cages amid a fetid build-up of their own waste. The stench produced by large amounts of urine and feces was so overwhelming that the rescuers removing the animals had to wear gas masks. The local county-run animal shelter and another animal “rescue” group had both sent animals to Puppy Patch to “save them” from euthanasia. Two operators of Puppy Patch were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals.

February 2014/Manatee County, Florida: The Herald-Tribune reported that hundreds of animals were being seized from Napier’s Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary as part of a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud and cruelty to animals. A sheriff’s captain reported that he had “been doing this job for 33 years, and I have never seen anything this horrible.” Animals were stacked in rusty, feces-encrusted cages on wooden floors so saturated with urine that they were “spongy.” Approximately 20 animals were found dead and buried in shallow graves on the property. The investigation continues, and no charges had been filed as of this writing.

February 2014/Odessa, Texas: NewsWest9.com reported that two days after being turned away from the Odessa Humane Society, seven puppies were found locked together in one cage, malnourished, and without food or water after having been dumped at the county landfill. That same week, five puppies were found in a crate left at a dumpster. The shelter, which is evidently a limited-admission (“no-kill”) facility, reports that it turns away animals “every day, all day long.”

February 2014/Easley, South Carolina: WDAM.com reported that more than 119 dogs were removed from a self-described animal “rescuer” doing business as Golden S. Rescue after they were found starving in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions. The “rescuer” was reportedly cited for ill treatment and improper burial of animals. A court date was set.

January 2014/North Attleboro, Massachusetts: WPRI.com reported that Fales Road Feline Rescue was shut down after authorities found nearly 70 cats at the unregistered facility, which was legally limited to no more than 10 animals. Many of the animals were infected with ringworm, and some were “living in filth.” The operator of the “rescue” was reportedly facing “a mountain of fines.”

January 2014/Madison, Connecticut: The Madison edition of Patch.com reported that the owner and operator of a Georgia animal “rescue” doing business as Nick of Time was arrested and charged with 28 criminal counts, including 12 counts of cruelty to animals, for allegedly illegally importing sick animals into Connecticut and Rhode Island. Ten cats and two dogs were seized after undercover investigators discovered that they were being transported in filthy cages covered with feces and urine. The cats exhibited symptoms of severe respiratory distress, and two were so sick that they required euthanasia. The charges are apparently pending

January 21, 2014/Alexandria, New Jersey: NJ.com reported that the state SPCA recently took over operations at the Hunterdon Humane Shelter because it had become a “hoarding facility.” The shelter’s insistence on maintaining a “no-kill” policy led hundreds of animals to be warehoused, some for years. According to NJ.com, state officials said that at least one cat had languished there “since the early 2000s.” The operator of the shelter was charged with cruelty to animals, and the animals were being cared for by professionals.

January 19, 2014/Neptune Beach, Florida: The Florida Times-Union reported that a plea deal was being negotiated with an animal hoarder posing as a cat rescuer who was arrested after officials found her house “full of cats, feces and trash” with no working air conditioning, caged cats, and an overpowering stench. Twenty-four cats were immediately removed, and another 10 were rescued from the hovel two days later. One cat was in such bad shape that he or she had to be euthanized, and the others reportedly showed “rapid improvement” once they were housed at the city’s animal shelter, where they were given fresh food and water, access to clean air, and antibiotics.

January 16, 2014/Hagerstown, Maryland: WJLA.com reported that at least two former employees of the Humane Society of Washington County had come forward to report cruel and unhealthy conditions at the shelter. Photographs that were apparently taken at the shelter showed that stacked travel carriers that reportedly held more than one animal each were being used as permanent housing and that weakened, sick cats had blood and mucus smeared and crusted on and in their noses and mouths. According to WJLA.com, one of the whistleblowers stated, “They [the humane society board] did not have the welfare of the animals in mind. They were more concerned with getting the number of euthanasia’s [sic] down at whatever cost.”

January 10, 2014/Robertson County, Tennessee: The Tennessean reported that three months after instituting a policy forbidding euthanasia for space, the Robertson County Animal Shelter was at full capacity and turning away animals. Three kittens had recently been dumped at a garbage landfill next door to the shelter. According to The Tennessean, the shelter director explained, “We just don’t accept animals if we’re full.”

January 9, 2014/Zanesville, Ohio: ZanesvilleTimesRecorder.com reported that a man claiming to be operating an animal “rescue,” called the South Zanesville Animal Rescue, was charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals after authorities seized 13 dogs and cats from his property who had evidently gone without food and water for at least two days. Two cats were found dead, and other animals were skin and bones and had contagious skin diseases. Survivors were being cared for at the Muskingum County Dog Pound.

January 7, 2014/Kansas City, Missouri: KSHB.com reported that the Kansas City Pet Project, a shelter that describes itself as “keenly focused on optimal lifesaving and creating a No Kill Community,” was finding animals abandoned and left outside it in freezing temperatures. According to KSHB.com, a shelter spokesperson said that people “are just not wanting to pay the fees to drop off the animals.” The shelter spokesman also stated that a cat who had recently been abandoned near the shelter was found with “icicles coming out of her nose.”

December 13, 2013/Chicago, Illinois: The Chicago Tribune reported that the Illinois Department of Agriculture had launched an investigation to find out what happened to more than 1,200 cats transferred from the Chicago Animal Care and Control shelter to an animal “rescue” called Purrs From the Heart in order to lower euthanasia rates at the municipal facility. WGNTV.com reported that the shelter had been transferring animals to the “rescue” for about four years. Approximately 500 animals had reportedly died in the custody of Purrs. No animals were found at a rural barn where the group claimed it had sent many cats, and as many as 150 cats had been left at an apartment where many were reportedly killed, were starved, or died of disease. One of the founders of Purrs was charged with cruelty to animals in 2012 but was acquitted. Charges have not been filed in this most recent case.

December 9, 2013/Pasco County, Florida: WTSP.com reported that authori