Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dead Mice In Dogs' Water Not Abuse, MCSO Says

Arizona has no law against hoarding, even hoarding dozens of animals, as long as they have access to food, water, shelter and medical care. And state law doesn't dictate the quality of those requirements.

That's the word from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department on why it hasn't intervened and seized dozens of dogs living in mice-infested kennels deep in the desert.

"In terms of state law, it doesn't matter how many animals you have, as long as you're providing for them," said Sgt. Matt Summers with MCSO.

The dogs belong to Shirley Johnson, who lives west of the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant outside Tonopah. For years she has been taking in unwanted animals that others have dumped, putting them in kennels and caring for them.

Last summer she alerted a dog rescue group after her gas-operated well pump died, and she had no way to provide water for them. The rescue group said it was appalled by the deplorable conditions in which the dogs were living: kennels filled with feces, and water buckets filled with dead mice.

Sheriff's investigators have been to the property several times after receiving complaints, but Summers said they found no evidence of abuse.

"Dead mice floating in the water is not ideal, but that alone would not rise to the level of failing to provide necessary water," Summer said.

Over the past six months, the volunteers have been helping Johnson care for all of the unwanted dogs. Johnson has been slowly allowing the volunteers to remove dogs from the property and adopt them out.

"She had accumulated 101 dogs when we came to help; we're now down to 24," said Shelley Stolts, a volunteer with Arizona Desert Dogs. "We need to get the rest of dogs off this property."..." More

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