BROOKS, Ore. (KMTR) -- A 24-year old Salem woman has been arrested and charged with 120 counts of Animal Neglect 2 and one count of Tampering with Evidence following an investigation into her involvement with what she has described as an animal rescue facility.
The facility is the Willamette Valley Animal Rescue, 8955 Pueblo Avenue in Brooks. The company is listed on petfinder.com as a volunteer organization whose goal it is to find homes for hard-to-place dogs. Attention was focused on the organization after the Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) received several complaints about the care of the animals and the conditions of the facility.
MCSO deputies and Code Enforcement Officers attempted to work with the operators of the facility to resolve these complaints without taking formal enforcement action. Unfortunately, these efforts were met with a lack of cooperation. The Sheriff's office also became aware that the Oregon Humane Society had received complaints about the facility, but their efforts to work with the owners were blocked when they were denied access to inspect the facility.
Former employees and complainants told deputies the facility housed as many as 150 dogs in a 7,500 square foot warehouse building. The animals were kept in various ways, including dog kennels, 4' x 6' dog runs and crates normally used for transporting animals. They also indicated the animals were often fed only stale bread instead of dog food. Based on these reports, a formal investigation was opened.
At about 10:00 AM Sunday January 13, Sr. Deputy Dale Huitt stopped a car driven by twenty-four-year-old Alicia Marie Inglish. Inglish was known to be President of the Rescue facility. Deputy Huitt observed her as she arrived at the facility with four additional dogs. She was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail. She is being held on $300,000 bail and is due in court at 3:00 PM Monday.
Deputy Huitt secured a search warrant for the property, signed by Marion County Circuit Judge Cortland Geyer. At approximately 8:30 PM Sunday evening, deputies and Humane Society Investigators entered the building.
The building was filled with over 140 dogs in various stages of neglect. Some were freely running about the building, others were caged in wire dog runs. Numerous transportation carriers were filled with as many as four dogs, when they were designed for only one. No food was available to the animals and the little water found in the cages was undrinkable due to garbage and foreign objects.
Many of the dogs appeared to be suffering from starvation and malnutrition. Others appeared sick, some with eyes sealed shut with body fluids. One dog had his head stuck in the wire grid of a cage in an attempt to try to get out. The cages had some sawdust on the concrete floors but no other bedding was available. There was no no staff or personnel on duty in the building to care for the dogs.
Most of the cages were filled with animal feces and urine. The sawdust spread on the floor failed to provide an adequate sleeping area for the number of dogs in each cage. Several kennels were stacked against a wall like cord wood; none contained food or water for the overcrowded animals.
Approximately thirty pounds of dry dog food and several cans of wet dog food were found in the building -not nearly enough to feed the number of dogs present.
120 of the animals found met the legal standard for neglect; the remaining dogs also need some care. Ms. Inglish was charged accordingly.
Oregon Humane Society Veterinarian Dr. Kris Otteman, who is also the Director of Shelter Medications at the OHS, began the long task of examining and ranking the animals in order of need for care. "The condition of these animals is terrible. They are lacking the basic care needed to survive. I found no food available to them and the water in their cages was filled with [filth]. I saw one animal stuffed into a cage that was so small he was unable to lie down, sit or stand up. He had no food or water in the cage and I'm not sure how long he'd been left in that condition. I saw another cage that contained four dogs; it was designed for one. These dogs need immediate medical care."
Oregon Humane Society volunteers, Willamette Humane Society, Code Enforcement Officers and Canine Deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's office worked through the night gathering up and triaging the animals.
The seized animals have been sent to several state and county facilities for treatment that will hopefully lead to recovery. A total of 21 deputies and volunteers worked through out the night to provide much-needed care to these animals.
Veterinarians will examine each of the animals in order to provide for the immediate needs of each animal. Because the case remains an active investigation, the animals seized are considered evidence. At some later time, they may become available for adoption or placement.
Additional arrests are expected. Anyone with information pertaining to this investigation is encouraged to contact Sr. Deputy Dale Huitt at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates to this incident will be made as more information becomes available.