ASPCA and rescuers target dogs in Ragley - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

ASPCA and rescuers target dogs in Ragley

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RAGLEY, LA (KPLC) -

The Sheriff's Office confirms so far -- 28 dogs removed from a residence in rural Beauregard Parish, a residence that has come under scrutiny by neighbors, concerned citizens and animal rescue volunteers.

Those watching say much more needs to be done. The Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office disputes allegations it's a puppy mill and has described the situation as an animal lover who let things get out of hand yet, from a neighbor's yard, five small dogs appear from just one window and many more dogs can be heard barking.

There are a half dozen or so trailers on the property in a remote area off Gimnick Road. Neighbors have complained. Neighbor Ann Duhon said it's atrocious.

"They bark all the time, the smell is horrendous. Some days, I can't even go outside without getting sick to my stomach. The dogs are suffering," said Duhon.

Neighbors say a man and woman live there, though no success getting anyone to come out. Animal rescuers visiting the house attempted to get someone to come to the door by honking the horn and shouting to see if anyone was home.

Animal rescuers said they're not trying to make trouble, but  just want to help the animals and the people who seem to have more than they can handle.

"We want to help. We really don't want this to be anything ugly. We're not out to hurt anyone," said Sheila Gilley, a local rescue volunteer.

Gilley has been involved since July when 22 animals were voluntarily surrendered. Gilley has pictures, before and after, of some rescued. Gilley said all had to be shaved because their fur was severely matted and saturated with urine and feces.

She shows a picture of one little dog saying, "It came off as one large pelt of hair and that indicates severe neglect and extremely painful."

But Gilley and Laura Lanza with the ASPCA said there's much left to do. Lanza has sent the Sheriff's Office a three-page letter detailing issues and concerns about whether laws are being enforced.

"What we look for is cooperation in seeing that animals are provided proper food, shelter, water and veterinary care as mandated by Louisiana State statute and in our evaluation, from off-site, just by public view, that's not being done," said Lanza.

A sign on one of the vehicles on the property indicates dogs for sale. Gilley and Lanza warn buying dogs from such an environment could lead to many problems. 

"When you're buying dogs haphazardly like this, and they don't have any veterinary records, you're going to be looking at a huge vet bill and you may be contributing to their idea that they can make money doing this," said Gilley.

Officials with the Sheriff's Office say they are working diligently with local agencies to reduce the number of dogs at the place in Ragley. Sheriff's spokesman, Chief Deputy Joe Toler, said "Remaining dogs have been provided with shelter, food and clean drinking water."

Toler said authorities will continue to provide assistance.

He adds anyone who wants to help by adopting any of the dogs may contact the Sheriff's Office and they will forward their information. The number is 337-463-3281.

Following this story are excerpts of the letter the ASPCA sent the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office.

Copyright 2013 KPLC All rights reserved

Dear Sheriff Moses,

 Thank you for taking my call regarding the puppy mill/hoarder.  I spoke with your Deputy Franks and he assured me that these animals were in the process of being placed into rescues to downsize the numbers being kept by this elderly couple.  Unfortunately, there is some misinformation being given since it looks like a proper investigation was not undertaken.  I have since been told that your department has closed the case due to lack of resources. 

 I was asked to visit the property...and spoke with over 8 individuals who are willing to come forward and provide witness statements that there are over 100 animals locked up in various sheds/trailers/buildings around the property not 25 as I was told by Deputy Franks.  He also said that 8 more were due to leave next week and he had checked all rabies vaccinations for every animal onsite and they were current. However, he could not give me a veterinarian name or tell me if he personally identified every animal onsite and matched them to the rabies certificates. 

I passed your sub-station on the drive to Gimnick Road, but unfortunately, no one was at the station or we would have invited them to join us .  The noise verifies that dozens of animals are inside those buildings heard through open windows so I am not sure where Deputy Franks counted animals unless he just did the few inside the outside kennels and those loose on the property.  He also stated that a veterinarian had seen all the animals and they were all healthy and fine, however, after my visit today, I don't see how this would have been possible. 

I have attached some sample photos of the initial 22 dogs that they allowed to be removed.  There were 16 males and 6 females released to rescues around the state.  As you can see  from the attached photographs,  their coats were severely matted and filthy dirty with fecal matter and dirt.  At the veterinarians office they were found to be covered in fleas and ticks to the point of being life threatening.  One died from various infections, one has severe damage to one of his eye, and all had extensive worms, and parasites.  All these issues including the kennel conditions are covered in the state statue on cruelty to animals for prosecution.

 NO rabies vaccination inoculation records were provided to the rescues for the 22 dogs surrendered to the rescues.  In Louisiana, it is against the law for private individuals to give animals rabies shots purchased at feed stores...  All rabies vaccinations for rabies are required to be administered by a licensed Louisiana Veterinarian and a certificate and tag is issued for each animal.  If no license tag is required in Beauregard Parish for each animal they can apply for a kennel license and then they only have to prove that the rabies shots were given by a licensed  Louisiana Veterinarian.  I have attached a copy of the LA State Sanitary Code which includes reportable diseases including rabies to clarify why it is vital that government agencies insure this important public protection is provided.

 I have also attached the LA State R.S. 14:102 Cruelty to animals law which provides law enforcement a procedure to investigate, document and prosecute in situations where animals are endangered.  There is a bond notice that has to be posted to the property giving them a set time to respond if animals are seized for the medical care and housing/care for a full 30 days to ensure that the tax-payers don't get hit with the costs of a seizure that is extended beyond a reasonable time.  At the end of 15 days if they have not paid the bond funds, they lose all legal claims to the animals but it does not prevent prosecution of the cruel act.  What we usually recommend is that you negotiate prosecution probation and not allow them to have any animals except one-two personal spayed/neutered pets to prevent them from breeding and hoarding animals again.

I have spoken with Julia Breaux with the Humane Society of the United States and since the Field Investigation Team with the ASPCA is currently deployed on another similar case in another state, she said that HSUS may be willing to assist you in your seizure and removal of the animals at risk on the Gimnick Road situation.  The ASPCA has possible grant funding to assist the organizations that are willing to collaborate with you in the removal of all animals on the property.  There are many rescue organizations that may be willing to take responsibility for all animals and have them evaluated, provided medical treatment and the necessary vaccinations and grooming that is desperately needed.

No one was at the residence when we visited the property next door so we were unable to speak with (the residents) regarding these important issues and concerns.  In reviewing the available video of the inside of the kennels, that was taken when individuals were invited/requested to assist the elderly couple in cleaning, it is clear that there are fire hazards inside the facilities.  There are over 6-8 trailers on the property, along with massive amounts of discarded vehicles and trash.

 The ditches in front of the residences have an overflow of sewage which may result in a bio-hazard environment for the residents in and around the immediate property.  This may need to be reported to the LA DEQ at:

http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/ABOUT/ContactInformation.aspx

 My concerns for the welfare of the (residents), the surrounding citizens who are subjected to the stench and sounds of constant barking, as well as our deep concerns for the welfare and protection of the animals being held in suffocating heat and suffering from disease and injuries, have necessitated me making this complaint to your department.

 The individuals I spoke with today stated that  my name was evidently used to individuals expressing concerns about this issue inferring that I had stated I had said the situation was resolved.  I was informed that the ‘case' had been closed due to the fact you had no resources to deal with it. I have no idea what was really stated since I was not present.  However, what I did say to your Deputy was that if a Veterinarian said the reported 25 dogs that were left were fine, it made it more difficult to build a case but it should be investigated.  He assured me he saw proof of rabies vaccination and that they were getting rid of the remaining 25 animals.  He did not evidently, make a list of the tags and verify with a veterinarian that he/she had in fact administered all rabies vaccinations for every animal onsite that was 3 months or over.  That is one method for law enforcement to issue citations for violations on every animal onsite as a way to encourage them to surrender the animals in lieu of prosecution. 

 I would appreciate your re-opening this case and pursuing relief for the animals and the surrounding residents from the dangerous hoarding situation in question.  I am ccing individuals that have been concerned about this situation and are all waiting for action from your department representatives to resolve this serious and dangerous situation.  I have now been told that local rescues are so worried that they are raising funding to try to purchase some of them just to get them out of harm's way since the conditions are so unhealthy.

 I look forward to hearing from you if I can assist you in any way in this matter.

 

 Respectfully,

 Laura Lanza
Community Initiatives Director
Community Outreach

 

ASPCA®
laura.lanza@aspca.org
www.ASPCA.org

www.aspcapro.org

Main Office:  424 E. 92nd Street

New York, NY 10128-6804

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