MAYFIELD — A Mayfield rescue organization that has previously seen animals seized in an animal cruelty case is now at the center 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 on Monday night after complaints about a loose dog sparked greater concerns about the animals there, officials said.
An officer was stationed on 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.
About 52 dogs, including two dead, along with two rabbits, two goats, a horse and more than a dozen ducks and chickens were found on the property, officials said. They were found “mostly outdoors and in filthy, uninhabitable conditions,” according to a joint press release from the Fulton County Regional Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the James A. Brennan Humane Society.
“Potable water and proper shelter were scarce,” the statement said.
The animals continued to be evaluated and treated Wednesday by the SPCA and the Humane Society, with assistance from Ayres Memorial Shelter, the statement said.
No arrests were made on Wednesday, but the investigation is still ongoing.
“Once all animals have been examined and the investigation is complete, the Sheriff expects the appropriate charges to be filed,” sheriff’s officials said in an email.
Giardino called the typical case of animal hoarding, where a person has good intentions but gets in over their head.
“People put them down 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 received several complaints about the property. At that time, around 300 animals were found on the property – from dogs and cats to cattle and parrots. In this case, the animals had received food, but living conditions were substandard and a small number of animals required emergency care.
In the case of 2011, Jeff Eyre, then Northeast Director of Field Investigations and Response for the ASPCA, expressed similar sentiments to Giardino Today.
At that time, Eyre described Kelly as “someone who had very good intentions” and someone who, instead of reducing the number of animals, continued to take them.
This is the second time in just over a month that the SPCA has had to respond to a Fulton County residence to seize animals. In early June, the organization intervened in a property in Ephratah where it seized several animals, including 10 Shih Tzu.
“For a small shelter like Regional, two back-to-back cases like this are debilitating,” said Renee Earl, president of the SPCA, “even larger shelters would feel challenged given these circumstances.” But we are, 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 areas to support us. Every tragedy is a learning experience and this one makes us even more motivated to continue fundraising and working on our fundraising campaign to raise the necessary funds so that we can build our new, larger shelter.
The recent surge of cases in the news can be understood in two different ways, Earl said.
“In a way, it’s absolutely sickening to know that these situations even exist,” she said. “No one wants to admit that their quiet little town can harbor such horrific crimes. In another, it’s a good thing that more people are willing to speak up and report what they see, and that law enforcement and the district attorney’s office are taking these crimes seriously. Years ago that was not the case. The formation of the Fulton County Animal Crimes Task Force certainly helped create this change.
She said the SPCA has educated young people about responsible pet care through its Regional Animal Shelter Educates program, which began in 2015 and is “a school-based pet awareness educational program,” according to the organization’s website.
“The goal is for the next generation of pet owners to know what it takes to care for pets — the expenses and the monetary commitments,” Earl said. We can’t change the past, but maybe we can start by changing the future.
She also said shelters around the world are at or at full capacity, but there are still options available if someone needs to give up their pet.
“They need to take the time to research and make calls,” she said. “A lot of people just want an easy fix and that’s where the problems come in.”