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10/23/2013 3:47:00 PM
'Horrible' the only word to use
JC Animal Control rescues 77 dogs living in ghastly conditions in a trailer
Animal Control officer Heather Kessler transports one of the 77 emaciated animals taken from a home at Country Squire Lakes on Friday.—Staff Photo by Sharon Hamilton
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Animal Control officer Heather Kessler transports one of the 77 emaciated animals taken from a home at Country Squire Lakes on Friday.—Staff Photo by Sharon Hamilton
Deputy Jennings County Animal Control officer Michelle Acton works to gain control of one of the dogs
+ click to enlarge
Deputy Jennings County Animal Control officer Michelle Acton works to gain control of one of the dogs
A tip from a local pizza delivery person led Jennings County Animal Control to a Country Squire Lakes mobile home where a couple had 77 dogs in their possession.
Last week, Heather Kessler, Jennings County Animal Control officer, received the tip about the animals after the delivery person reported a large number of dogs and a horrible stench from the trailer located at 2626 Ellingsworth Way. According to Kessler, the first step she took in retrieving the animals was to check out the situation and see what shape the animals were in. The animals belonged to Dawn Bowman.
"We then are required to educate the owner and talk to her about how the animals were not being properly cared for," Kessler explained. "She then willingly signed the animals over to us so we could retrieve them from the trailer."
Kessler said there was only one word to describe the condition of the home-horrible.
"The ammonia smell was so strong it burned your eyes and took your breath away," Kessler stated.
Kessler said that after talking with Bowman and telling her they were going to be removing the dogs, Bowman was hurt and sad.
"She thought she was doing the right thing with the dogs," Kessler explained. "It was actually overwhelming, but in her eyes she was doing the right thing. She admitted she couldn't afford to get them spayed or neutered so they just kept multiplying."
Had Bowman contacted her, Kessler said they could have helped her in getting the dogs fixed. Funds are available for this if someone can't afford it.
"We did allow her to keep three of the dogs," Kessler revealed. "That was on the condition she get them spayed or neutered. The Madison DOC said they would pay for her to get them fixed."
Kessler, who is the investigating officer for this case, wrote Bowman a total of $2500 in tickets. One was for 57 dogs that had no up-to-date rabies vaccinations and another for improper care for 11 animals. Once her investigation is complete, Kessler will turn the paperwork over to Jennings County Prosecutor Alan Marshall and it will be his decision as to what, if any, additional charges are filed.
Before they even began the process of removing the dogs from the home, Kessler called every rescue group she could think of for assistance in caring for the animals. In the beginning Kessler estimated about 60 dogs were at the location. After they began removing them from the trailer, they found a total of 77.
"We had to immediately euthanize 20 of them," Kessler said. "That is because they were either sick or were not capable of being social (they were aggressive)."
Madison Women's Correctional Facility took 25 of the dogs while shelters and rescue groups in Decatur County took 18. A total of 21 remain at the local animal shelter. The remaining dogs have either been adopted or are in foster care with families around this part of the state.
"We knew coming into this that there was no way we were going to be able to accept this many dogs," Kessler explained. "Our county can only take in so many dogs and we have limited funds on getting them medical help. We knew this was going to far exceed anything we could afford."
One problem Kessler had when removing the dogs were their aggression when she and deputy animal control officer Michelle Acton took them outside.
"Michelle has a lot of holes in her hands where the dogs bit her," Kessler said. "A lot of them got aggressive with us when we took them outside because they had never been out before."
As for rumors circulating the area about the exact number of dogs that were euthanized, Kessler said 20 was the number that were euthanized. The confusion may have resulted in the fact that all the paperwork hasn't been completed on the remaining animals, so the numbers they were giving out were "rough numbers" not official numbers. Kessler and Acton were still working on the paperwork for the 77 dogs that were removed. Kessler noted that each dog that was taken has to have a complete file on it.
If you would like to adopt one of the remaining dogs or any other animal at the shelter call 812-346-5725.

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