Dozens of animals seized from rescue organization in Fulton County

Dozens of animals seized from rescue organization in Fulton County

MAYFIELD — A Mayfield rescue organization that has previously seen animals seized in an animal cruelty case is now the focus of a new case involving more than 50 animals, Fulton County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.

Deputies executed a warrant at Kelly’s Haven on Route 349 in Mayfield Monday evening after complaints of a loose dog led to larger concerns about animals there, officials said.

An officer was stationed at the property overnight until officers and volunteers from other animal agencies could return to seize the remaining animals on the property, Sheriff Richard Giardino said.

Approximately 52 dogs, two of which were dead, along with two rabbits, two goats, one horse and over a dozen ducks and chickens were found on the property, officials said. They were found “primarily outdoors and in filthy, uninhabitable conditions,” a joint press release from the Fulton County Regional Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the James A. Brennan Humane Society said.

“Clean water and appropriate shelter were scarce,” the release said.

The animals continued to be evaluated and treated Wednesday by the SPCA and Humane Society, with sheltering assistance from Ayres Memorial Shelter, according to the release.

No arrests were made as of Wednesday, but the investigation is still ongoing.

“Once all the animals have been examined and the investigation is complete the sheriff anticipates the appropriate charges will be filed,” sheriff’s officials said in an email.

Giardino called the case typical of animal hoarding, where a person has good intentions but gets in over their heads.

“People drop them off and they can’t say no,” Giardino said.

Owner Susan Kelly was the subject of an animal cruelty case in 2011. During that case, the sheriff’s department said it had received multiple complaints about the property. At that time, around 300 animals were found on the property — from dogs and cats to livestock and parrots. In that case, the animals had been receiving food, but the living conditions were below standard and a small number of the animals had to have emergency care.

In the 2011 case, Jeff Eyre, then-Northeast director of field investigations and response for the ASPCA, offered sentiments similar to Giardino’s now.

At that time, Eyre described Kelly as “someone who had tremendous good intent,” and as someone who instead of reducing the number of animals continued to take ones being dropped off.

This is the second time in just over a month the SPCA has needed to respond to a residence in Fulton County to seize animals. In early June, the organization responded to a property in Ephratah where it seized several animals, including 10 Shih Tzus.

“For a small shelter like Regional, two cases back-to-back like this is objectionable,” said Renee Earl, the SPCA’s president, “even the larger shelters would feel challenged given these circumstances. But, this is what we do, and we will find a way to make sure the animals are helped no matter what. We are fortunate to have so many animal lovers here in Fulton County and our surrounding area to support us. Every tragedy is a learning experience and this one makes us even more motivated to continue to fundraise and work on our capital campaign to raise the money needed so that we can build our new, larger shelter.

The recent spate of cases in the news can be understood in two different ways, Earl said.

“In one sense, it’s absolutely sickening to know that these situations even exist,” she said. “No one wants to admit that their quiet, small town can harbor such horrific crimes. In another, it’s a good thing that more people are willing to speak up about and seriously report what they are seeing, and that law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office are taking these crimes. Years ago, this was not the case. The formation of the Fulton County Animal Crimes Task Force has definitely helped create this change.”

She said the SPCA educated younger people on responsible pet care through its Regional Animal Shelter Educates program, which began in 2015 and is “an in-school, pet awareness educational program,” according to the organization’s website.

“The goal is that the next generation of pet owners will know what it takes to care for animals — the monetary expenses and commitments,” Earl said. We can’t change the past, but maybe we can start by changing the future.”

She also said shelters all over are reaching or at capacity but that there are still options available should someone need to give up their pet.

“They need to take the time to do the research and make calls,” she said. “Many people just want an easy solution and that’s when problems happen.”

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