June 03, 2011
Lewes pet owner pleads guilty to animal cruelty
Homes sought for 39 animals
LEWES, Delaware (SmallTownPapers) -- The Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is seeking leashes, collars and other items for dogs that were removed from a Lewes-area home. Thirty-nine animals were taken, all of whom will eventually be available for public adoption.
Mike Warshol, an animal cruelty officer with the Delaware SPCA's Sussex County headquarters in Georgetown, led the raid May 9 at a residence on Beaver Dam Road and cited the woman who owns the pets for neglect. Animals removed included 26 dogs, eight goats and five horses.
One horse had been wearing a harness around its head for so long the harness had become embedded in the horse's face, resulting in one count of felony animal cruelty. The woman was also charged with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty owing to the condition of a trio of dogs. "She was read her Miranda rights and chose to remain silent," Warshol said.
The woman pleaded guilty to the charges in court May 26. Her name was not immediately available, and Delaware SPCA Executive Director Anne Cavanaugh declined to release it. The woman will not be permitted to own animals for the next five years, and officers will visit peri-odically to make sure, Cavanaugh said.
Warshol, a retired cop who is one of two officers at the Georgetown center, said many of the dogs had heartworms. "That's a shame, because it only takes one pill per month to prevent heartworms," he said.
The case started with a call from a tipster. Warshol responded to the suspect's home, and no one was there at the time. He reached the woman by phone, and she admitted the condition of the horse and said she would call a veterinarian immediately to remove the harness. Warshol spoke to that veterinarian, who confirmed the horse's condition. Warshol then went to the home with a search warrant.
While volunteers were shocked, Cavanaugh said neglectful animal hoarders are more numerous than some may realize. A 2010 case in Milton involved more than 60 pigs, goats, cats and dogs, while a 2009 case in Laurel resulted in the removal of 82 Chihuahuas. The New Castle County branch of the agency had two separate cases in recent years where more than 50 animals were removed; it also took 34 cats from a home in Newport the same week as the Lewes incident, Cavanaugh said. "This happens several times per year," she said. "I was surprised there weren't any cats, because it usually involves cats."
There is a fine line between hoarding and cruelty, Cavanaugh said. Hoarders sometimes suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental afflictions
and don't mean to allow the number of their pets to grow out of control. "Hoarding is not typically a felony," she said. "Animal cruelty charges are misdemeanors unless we can prove the cruelty was intentional and the animal dies or suffers a serious injury."
The SPCA is a volunteer agency which exists through donations. The agency asks for donations of old dog beds, towels, blankets and other items for the dogs. Cavanaugh said financial
donations are also being sought to help pay for heartworm medication, vaccinations, grooming and food.
Because the owner pleaded guilty, all of the animals will be put up for public adoption once they are nursed back to health.
Six of the dogs should be ready in early June after they've been spayed and neutered, Cavanaugh said.
For more information, call 302-856-6361.
Copyright 2011 Cape Gazette, Lewes, Delaware. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.
© 2013 Cape Gazette Lewes, Delaware. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers.