54 animals in trailer claimed
Published 8:29 am Monday, June 27, 2005
By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER-Managing editor
Escambia County Humane Society officials agreed to not press charges against two Pensacola women who were believed to be keeping nearly 54 animals in an abandoned mobile home. The women could have faced 54 counts of animal cruelty charges.
Janna Dodge, 70, owner of property and mobile home, and her friend Elizabeth Cox, 58, arrived at the mobile home on Saturday to find a notice on the door stating that all animals had been seized by the Humane Society.
Renee Jones, a Humane Society cruelty investigator, said that they received a call from Dodge on Saturday but the shelter was closed. The two women arrived at the Humane Society Monday morning and eventually agreed to surrender the animals.
The women told Jones that they had left the windows open for the animals at the mobile home. They also told officials that someone must have broken into their home and closed and covered the windows with dark blankets.
Jones said that based on the age of the women and the fact that the women truly believed they were doing the animals justice, the Humane Society decided not to press charges. Jones added that once they decide to prosecute, the animal has to be held until "we get a disposition from the judge."
Once the animals are surrendered, they are immediately put up for adoption. Rather than pressing charges, it speeds up the process of adoption and costs less in the long run.
Jones said that the women were considered to be "hoarders" which is an "actual psychological disorder" where people truly believe they are doing the best that they can for animals.
Jones asked how many animals were being kept at the home in Pensacola. The women told Jones that they kept one poodle at their Pensacola home, located in a subdivision on Edison Drive.
After further investigation by the Escambia County (Fla.) animal control, it was found that the women actually kept 19 dogs at their home in Pensacola.
Jones said that 13 of the dogs were indoor dogs. She added that eight of the 19 dogs had current vaccinations, including rabies shots. The home also smelled of urine and other waste. The animal control gave the women 24 hours to clean up and to get the rest of the dogs vaccinated and a follow-up was held on Thursday to see whether the women had followed through.
Acting on a tip last week, the Humane Society investigated an abandoned home in the middle of the field between mile marker 24 and 25 along Hwy. 29. At the residence, officials found eight small breed dogs, a full-grown prairie dog, 31 exotic birds and 14 chicken cages stacked on top of each other.
There was no electricity or running water in the home, windows had been shut and covered with blankets and the temperature reached more than 100 degrees when a thermometer was placed inside the home.
Jones said that the smell was so pungent they had to wear hazardous material suits and their eyes began to sting from the smell of the urine.
Jones said the women were planning to breed the birds, some of which include an Amazon Parrot, an African Grey Parrot, a Quaker Parrot and two Cockateels. Jones said that during transportation, some eggs that were concealed within the cages and were unfortunately broken during transportation. The exotic birds have a relatively high retail value, but Jones said they are still trying to work out the adoption process.
She said that she has been getting a flood of phone calls regarding the birds and it has been a little frustrating. It seems, she said, that people are only interested in earning a buck rather than acquiring an animal - such as a dog or cat.
While the dogs remain at the Humane Society waiting to be adopted, the prairie dog was rescued by a group out of Fort Walton Beach who primarily cares for colonies of prairie dogs.
Jones reiterated that the animals had not been abused and most came out in good condition.