Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Animal rescue worker files suit against mom charged with neglect


A local animal rescue worker filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a Jacksonville woman charged by authorities last week with child abuse for allowing her children to live with dogs.

Courtney Kendzierski, who operates Noahs Ark K9 Rescue, is suing Rachel L. Ceaser for breach of contract, claiming Ceaser allowed three foster puppies to die of heat exhaustion last month.

Ceaser, 20, of Hunting Green Drive, was charged June 1 by the Onslow County Sheriff's Department with misdemeanor child abuse for "allowing seven dogs to live in the same area as two children," according to warrants. Her bond was set at $4,000.

Her two young children were taken by the Department of Social Services and placed in a temporary home. Director Roger Penrod said state and federal laws prevent him from discussing the specifics of the case.

Seven dogs, a hamster and a lizard were seized by Onslow County Animal Control. The agency is still investigating the animals' living conditions and considering charges, an animal control officer said Tuesday.

Kendzierski said Animal Control was too late to save three Springer-Spaniel puppies she had turned over to Ceaser to care for as a foster owner.

Noahs Ark takes in animals, placing them in temporary foster care while looking for a permanent home.

Kendzierski is suing Ceaser for $1,591. The lawsuit claims, "The defendant breeched (sic) a contract she signed for the temporary foster care of three puppies from Noahs Ark K9 Rescue by not following care instructions resulting in their death."

Ceaser declined comment Tuesday afternoon, but a profanity-laden voice message left for Kendzierski on June 30 from Ceaser's phone number says she did not mean for the animals to die.

"I didn't kill them (f-ing) dogs on purpose," the voice message says. "My air went out. It wasn't my fault. I wasn't home at the time it happen."

The foster care contract Ceaser signed states that the puppies' body temperature was to be maintained between 94 and 98 degrees.

Kendzierski said she went to Ceaser's house the day after receiving the message and discovered two small children who were naked with animal feces smeared on their bodies.
"I was a certified firefighter in Florida and have seen a lot of things, but the site of those children living like that is worse than anything," she said.

Kendzierski alerted authorities and Ceaser was arrested later that day.

A small claims court date for the case has been set for Aug. 7. Link