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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 23 May 2001 Issue:

COLLECTORS

What happens when people take into their home far more animals then they can properly care for? These people, called collectors, have various reasons for their situations.

Below is a typical story of one of these people and the inevitable tragic ending.

Rural Menagerie Removed

LE GRAND - A local woman was arrested here Wednesday after officials found more than 150 dogs and cats living in filthy outdoor kennels and in crates piled on top of each other inside the house.

Elizabeth Lindsay Thompson, 61, was booked into Merced County Jail on a warrant from Solano County charging her with animal cruelty. The suspect was booked and then released after she posted the required $5,000 bail. She was given a June 18 court appearance date.

Merced County Deputy District Attorney James Swanson said the arrest report will be reviewed for possible filing of felony animal cruelty charges. Kristi Garrett, animal shelter operations supervisor for the Merced County Animal Control Division, said the suspect has had similar problems in Solano and San Joaquin counties.

The arrest came shortly after 8 AM when officials from seven agencies converged on the four-bedroom house occupied by Thompson and her husband, William, at 8890 Minturn Road, four miles north of the Madera County Line. Her husband was not home at the time the arrest was made, said sheriff's Sgt. Tom Cavallero.

Officials were met with an unbearable odor coming undernourished dogs living in kennels filled with feces and urine. The inside of the house was devoid of furniture. Instead, dark curtain-drawn rooms contained canines living in feces-filled crates piled on top of each other.

"On arrival we were not allowed inside the house until fans cleaned the rooms of the unhealthy ammonia content," Garrett said. Garrett said one room contained at least 20 cats.- without a litter box - living in filth. Also found were two snakes in a tank and a caged tailless crow, its wings crusted with dried mud. Garrett said the snakes were probably a boa constrictor and a python. The breed of dogs ranged from whippets, basenjis, borzois, and basset hounds to beagle mixes, and official said.

According to Garrett, the arrest was the result of a complaint filed last September by the Minturn Nut Co., an almond processing plant next door. One of three employees, looking over the fence, said the problems began when their neighbors (the Thompsons) moved in a little more than a year ago. One of the employees stated dogs digging under the fence and the odor that came from the property were embarrassing when visitors or buyers came to the plant.

An investigation of the complaint conducted by the Merced County Environmental Health Division resulted in Thompson being advised she would need to obtain a kennel permit and submit records of rabies shots for the animals. Garrett said the county was working with her in obtaining the proper permits to keep dogs on her 2 1/2-acre property.

At the time of the arrest, Thompson supposedly was in the process of getting a kennel permit. Thompson reportedly told county officials at one time she used to breed dogs for show and later boarded them.  Now she was just rescuing them, she reportedly told Garrett. 

There were some improvements made at first, but soon the improvements became fewer and fewer, said Garrett. When the neighbors kept complaining "we just decided to close them down," she said.

Wednesday's operation included each animal receiving a health examination by Dr. Debbie Green, a Stanislaus County veterinarian, an identification micro-chip injected under its skin and a flea-killing pill given, said Garrett. The American Kennel Club was contacted to determine if any of the animals are registered, said Garrett.

Garrett said any animals too sick or anti-social would be euthanized. "Probably there will be a large number (of animals) put to sleep," she said.

Once health examinations were completed, the dogs and cats were taken to temporary boarding homes at Ashby Boarding Kennels, Clovis Animal Shelter and Valley Animal Hospital, said Garrett. Anyone wishing to donate food, money, or blankets to offset the cost of housing the animals may call 209-385-7436.

source: ObviousGirl@aol.com

Return to Animals in Print 23 May 2001 Issue

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