Friday, June 5, 2009

Marshall woman sentenced in 2008 dog-hoarding case

Helen Sheldon, 67, also was told by Calhoun County Circuit Judge Allen Garbrecht she was prohibited from possessing animals.

As part of her probation, Sheldon must continue with mental health treatment and pay $400 in fines and costs and could be liable for the costs to the county for the care of the dogs after they were seized. All of the dogs were euthanized.

Sheldon pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor of abandonment or cruelty to animals which carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail.

Calhoun County Sheriff Department deputies, with help from Battle Creek Police Department Animal Control Officers, went to the woman's home on 23-Mile Road in Marengo Township on July 10 and said they found 45 dogs living in a home that was in shambles and littered with feces.

Forty dogs were captured but one, which was aggressive, was shot and killed.

"My client is a victim of her own humanity," defense attorney Virginia Cairns said.

Sheldon took in animals that other people wouldn't keep, she said, and "had so many dogs that she couldn't handle it. But she didn't seek help because she thought the dogs might be put to death."

Cairns said Sheldon has been seeking mental health treatment and has support from family.

Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Buscher said he was concerned that without probation, Sheldon would not be under any supervision.

"We are concerned about her care and we want mental health care to continue," he said.

And Garbrecht agreed, saying the probation will give the court the ability to monitor Sheldon's treatment.

"Your actions might have been well-intentioned," he said. "But it created an environment that rather than helping them, you were harming them...  More

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