CASPER — The Natrona County District Attorney’s office is planning to file charges against a local woman who had 61 animals removed from her home last week.
“We’re looking into the appropriate charges,” county District Attorney Dan Itzen said Monday.
He declined to comment on the specific charges the office would be pursuing, citing the pending investigation, but said the charges would be in the realm of animal cruelty.
Animal protection officers, also referred to as animal control officers, removed the animals from the home on Thursday. Officers had been notified of an “animal problem” at a home in the county on Dec. 26. When officers arrived, they found dozens of animals in “extremely unsanitary conditions with obvious signs of neglect,” according to a statement issued by the Casper Police Department after the animals were removed.
Officers attempted to work with the homeowner to determine a better plan to care for the animals, according to the statement, but when those efforts failed, officers were granted a warrant to search the home and remove the animals.
The animals were then taken to Metro Animal Shelter. The shelter’s manager, Tory Walsh, said the shelter received 61 animals in total from the incident - 45 dogs, 15 rabbits and one “very pregnant” cat. The statement released by the police department Jan. 9 said there were 62 animals. That was a miscount, the department said.
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Animal control officers recently concluded their investigation into the homeowner and are recommending charges on 61 individual counts of animal cruelty, according to animal protection officer Sergeant Scott Schell. Speaking before Schoell's comments, Itzen said once the investigation was complete his office would proceed with filing charges against the homeowner.
The animals in question are not up for adoption because the case is still pending. Itzen said the homeowner has not surrendered ownership, so until she does or a court makes a determination in the case, the animals will remain under her ownership, but they won't be under her care.
The animals will stay at Metro Animal Shelter until the case is resolved, but just won’t be up for adoption, Walsh said. The dogs taken from the home are mostly small breeds that require grooming, and Petco has donated its services and has been giving the dogs "spa days" since Sunday, Walsh said.
Walsh said the shelter has been overwhelmed with calls from community members hoping to help in some way. It’s the same onslaught of calls the shelter received in July when 65 animals were seized from a Casper home and taken to the shelter.
Just as in that situation, Walsh is encouraging patience with the process. In the meantime, the shelter currently has more than 100 readily adoptable animals. Walsh estimated there were more than 90 cats and kittens, about 20 dogs and one rabbit ready for adoption.
The shelter is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.