Case Snapshot
Case ID: 14138
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull)
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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2008

County: Kern

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Cynthia Gudger

Case Updates: 17 update(s) available

Kern County Animal Control officers found the corpses of 14 cats and dogs wrapped in plastic and tucked into a freezer on property in Tehachapi Wednesday.

They rescued 15 living dogs and 37 cats.

And they arrested Anita Gilbert, 59, on 41 felony counts of animal cruelty.

Animal Control officers, backed up by Kern County sheriff's deputies, raided Gilbert's Tehachapi home where they found animals, living and dead, in nightmarish conditions.

"Deplorable," said Senior Animal Control Officer Steve Eirich. "I struggle to describe it. I've been here 17 years and this is one of the top five (worst)."

Eirich said Gilbert lived in a 100 by 60 foot metal outbuilding with the animals.

The dogs were living in kennels constructed inside the building and most of the cats were confined in two offices and a bathroom.

Used dog and cat food cans were strewn around the area, piled 2 feet deep in some areas amid a hodge-podge of trash that Eirich could only call "debris."

Animal feces covered large patches of the floor, he said.

"The situation was so bad that our animal control officers could only go in for a few minutes," said Resource Management Agency Director David Price III. "Station 16 (of the) Kern County Fire Department responded with industrial fans and respirators."

Eirich said his animal control officers could barely breathe because of the stench inside the building and had to fight the urge to vomit if they didn't dart out to take in fresh air.

Kern County code enforcement officers declared the large metal kennel building and a home on the property unfit for human habitation, Price said.

"It was obviously not suitable for the animals either," he said.

Eirich said the homes' problems weren't related to the animals and it appears Gilbert and the animals lived only in the metal outbuilding.

Animals rescued alive were moved to the county animal shelter in Mojave - or are in the care of veterinarians, Price said.

"Some animals seemed to be in pretty good condition," he said.

But some of the cats tested positive for feline leukemia, which is highly contagious.

Those animals will be quarantined but could die from their illness and their condition is a concern for other animals in shelter populations, Price said.

Eirich said a report made Monday by a member of the public triggered the investigation of Gilbert.

Animal control officers tried to investigate the problem Tuesday but were refused access to the property.

They came back with a search warrant and sheriff's deputies on Wednesday, Eirich said, after hearing Gilbert tried to clean up the property overnight.

It appears she was only able to clean out the dog kennels, he said. The rest of the structure remained in horrible condition.

"It was like dropping a penny in the dollar slot," Eirich said.

Kern County Sheriff's Department Senior Deputy Michael Whorf said Gilbert was arrested by animal control and booked into the sheriff's central receiving facility in Bakersfield.

Her bail was set at $205,000.


Case Updates

A woman who spent more than two years in jail for animal cruelty is now being investigated again for hoarding animals in terrible living conditions.

Pet owners are on edge after learning what was living behind locked windows and drawn shades of a low-income Venice rental apartment.

"The smell was overwhelming. It smelled like animal urine, feces, dead animals, sick -- it just smelled like horror," said neighbor Nancy Hancock.

Her neighbor in this low-income rental is Cynthia Gudger, a felon convicted in a notorious 2008 case of animal cruelty in Kern County. Investigators found 50 animals at her home living in filth. One had been chained to a cabinet. Five in the freezer were dead.

Gudger's record shows a life on the lam. Charged in Riverside with animal cruelty, she fled to Ventura County, then Kern County. She used aliases.

At one point she was found incompetent to stand trial and was placed in Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino. Two years later she was placed on probation for animal abuse. Neighbors say she relocated to Venice in 2011. They recall seeing her chasing feral kittens.

Then came the stench.

Hancock says Animal Control responded. Then came an animal-rescue group who she recorded seizing more than a dozen animals from the one-bedroom unit.

"In this particular case, there is an investigation that's ongoing," said Brenda Barnette, general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services.

There are currently no charges.

Barnette said tips are the only way they can track suspected animal hoarders.

"They start getting a few too many animals. They can't say no because they want to help, and suddenly they're in over their head," said Barnette.

Neighbors say Gudger kept her pets hidden. Only the stench alerted them. Now Gudger faces more trouble.

Eyewitness News has learned that she is facing a perjury charge for lying on a DMV application. And in Kern County, the district attorney said he will determine whether Gudger has violated the terms of her probation.
Source: ABC 7 - Jan 29 2014
Update posted on Apr 20, 2014 - 3:25PM 
An animal-hoarding woman won't go to jail on cruelty charges, but she may for identity theft.

Cynthia Gudger was sentenced Monday in Kern County Superior Court to five years probation for five counts of animal cruelty, which she pleaded no contest to in January.

Instead of being released from jail, however, Gudger is being handed off to federal custody to face charges of identity theft.

Gudger was was widely known by her false alias of Anita Gilbert when animal control officials seized nearly 50 dogs and cats from Gudger's Tehachapi home in July 2008. She skipped out on a court appearance that August but was arrested two months later.

When she was last arrested, Gudger was staying in an Oxnard motel with about 20 cats, including one dead cat in a freezer. She has been in custody since then.

Kern County deputy district attorney Mike Yraceburn said Monday that the federal government is now accusing Gudger of using other people's identities to collect Social Security benefits.

Gudger must also face an outstanding warrant from Riverside County that accuses her in an earlier animal cruelty case, Yraceburn said.
Source: Bakersfieldnow.com - Mar 1, 2010
Update posted on Mar 8, 2010 - 2:08PM 
Cynthia Gudger, who has been taking medication for mental issues relating to hoarding dogs and cats, pleaded no contest Wednesday to five counts of felony animal cruelty on the conditions she will be released from custody March 1, 2010, cooperate with mental health treatment and not possess animals for five years.

Gudger, 61, calmly entered pleas in the nearly two-year-old criminal case marked by loud outbursts from her in court alleging unfair treatment.

Kern County Animal Control officers found Gudger living with 18 dogs and 34 cats under the name of Anita Gilbert in a Tehachapi warehouse in July 2008. Officers described the condition of the warehouse as "deplorable."

She was also keeping 12 animal carcasses in freezers on the property, which was heavily littered with feces and open cans of cat food, animal control officers reported.

Before coming to Kern County, Gudger faced animal abuse allegations under the name of Barbara Ryan in Hemet, but she skipped out on bail in that case.

Defense attorney Michael C. Lukehart said Gudger faced up to 13 years in prison for all the crimes she had been accused of, but she has credits for two years in custody in both the Kern County jail and Patton State Hospital where she was recently treated for a mental condition.

Her sentencing will be March 1, 2010, before Judge Collette Humphrey. Gudger will likely be transferred to Riverside County for the Hemet case, but Lukehart said he did not expect her to get any more time in custody.

In the Kern County case, she faced 10 counts of animal cruelty and a felony count of making threats against a previous defense attorney. Those charges were suspended in March when a judge ruled Gudger was not mentally competent to stand trial.

She accepted a plea deal on Wednesday calling for her to be placed on five years probation, continue with mental health treatment and be banned from possessing any animals for five years, Lukehart said
Source: Bakersfield.Com News - January 27, 2010
Update posted on Jan 27, 2010 - 4:35PM 
Accused animal abuser Cynthia Gudger has been ruled competent to stand trial by doctors from Patton State Hospital near San Bernardino.

A trial for Gudger, on charges of animal abuse and threatening a public official, has tentatively been scheduled for March.

Those charges were suspended in March 2009 after two doctors said Gudger was not mentally fit to go to trial.

Gudger was committed to Patton State Hospital in April.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn said Gudger agreed last week to take medication for her condition and was cleared for trial.

Yraceburn said he will prosecute the felony case against Gudger.

Kern County Animal Control officers found Gudger living with 18 dogs and 34 cats under the name Anita Gilbert in a Tehachapi warehouse in July 2008.

The warehouse was in "deplorable" condition, officers said. According to reports animals were kept in carriers so full of feces the pets were trapped against the top of the enclosure.

Photos showed hundreds of open cans of cat food strewn across the office area of the warehouse and pet carriers caked in filth. Feces covered large areas of the floor and overflowed from plastic containers.

Gudger was keeping 12 animal carcasses in freezers on the property, animal control officers reported.

The charges of threatening a public official stem from statements Gudger allegedly made against Deputy Public Defender Craig Elkin, her former attorney, early on in the legal process against her.

Gudger, who also faced accusations of animal abuse under the name Barbara Ryan in Hemet, skipped out on bail and fled Kern County's charges against her in August 2008.

She was recaptured by a bail bondsman in Reseda in October 2008.

Next week a judge will rule on whether there is enough evidence to add felony charges of fleeing justice.

Gudger's court-appointed attorney, Michael Lukehart, said while the case will proceed, Gudger's mental health issues remain a concern.

"She's been found (mentally) competent," Lukehart said. "By no means does that mean that all issues in that area have been resolved."

He said he is looking into property issues connected to the warehouse on Bear Valley Road in Tehachapi where Gudger was arrested in July 2008.

Animal rescuer Kimi Peck is living on the property, owned by Beverly Hills accountant Susan Marlowe -- who also allowed Gudger to live on the property.

County code enforcement officers have issued violation notices against Peck for failing to obtain a conditional use permit to operate a shelter on the property.

"There are some people who are involved with the property and it appears to me there is a community of people in this line of ... endeavor. We will be exploring that," Lukehart said.
Source: Bakersfield.Com News - January 20, 2010
Update posted on Jan 20, 2010 - 8:29PM 
A doctor determined accused animal abuser Cynthia Gudger was not competent of standing trial for animal cruelty charges, but a judge on Wednesday ordered a second opinion.

Gudger also asked for a new lawyer to replace her appointed attorney Michael Lukehart, but the judge denied that request. Lukehart is her third attorney, and this was her sixth request for a new lawyer, Lukehart said.

He laughed when asked if he agrees with Gudger's opinion of needing a different lawyer.

Gudger, who went by the alias Anita Gilbert and other names, was found collecting animals in a Tehachapi warehouse and had allegedly kept the animals in horrible conditions, locked in cages filled with their own feces. Gudger was apparently living with the animals, among piles of trash, feces and a floor soaked with urine.

Not shy about stating her opinion in court, Gudger, in a wheelchair, stated bluntly to the judge that she doesn't "expect anything from Lukehart."

Gudger faces 10 counts of felony animal cruelty, a felony count of making threats to a previous attorney and failure to appear in court.

If she is found to be not competent by a second doctor, she could be committed temporarily to a psychiatric hospital, outpatient treatment or a live-in treatment facility.

If the doctor finds her competent, countering the first doctor's opinion, there could be a jury trial just on that matter, said prosecutor Michael Yraceburn.

Gudger's next court date is March 11.
Source: Bakersfield.com - Feb 11, 2009
Update posted on Feb 11, 2009 - 3:19PM 
Anita Gilbert (a.k.a. Cynthia Gudger) will be in court today on 10 felony counts of animal abuse.

This will be the second time in a week Anita Gilbert has been in court after being arrested in Reseda (LA area) on charges of threatening the public defender assigned to defend her on the animal abuse charges. She was arrested last July in Tehachapi after officials found her living in deplorable conditions with more than 50 animals, some of which were sick. There were also 12 animal carcasses found in her freezer at the time of the arrest.

Among other allegations, Gilbert now claims that she has been denied cancer medication by jail officials; and that it has been suggested that she commit suicide.
Source: 1 Bakersfield - Jan 8, 2008
Update posted on Jan 8, 2009 - 10:09AM 
The Kern County District Attorney's office has filed a charge of felony failure to appear against Cynthia Gudger - the woman Kern County has known until now as Anita Gilbert.

Gudger appeared in a Bakersfield courtroom, sitting in a wheelchair, on Thursday to answer 10 felony charges of animal cruelty.

A Kern County Superior Court judge set Gudger's animal cruelty case - which is still filed under the alias Anita Gilbert - for a readiness hearing on Dec. 12 and a jury trial on Dec. 22.

Following her July arrest on the animal charges, Gudger is accused of threatening her public defender and then jumping bail.

Lancaster bail bondsman Bob Herman caught Gudger in Reseda last week following a foot chase.

Gilbert appeared in court in Mojave on Wednesday, walking with the aid of a walker, and was arraigned on the threat charges.
Source: Bakersfield Now - Oct 31, 2008
Update posted on Nov 2, 2008 - 9:43PM 
The woman who goes by the name "Anita Gilbert" sat shackled to a chair at the downtown jail Tuesday night. She wanted to speak with 17 news to let the people know she loves animals and would never hurt them.

She said her cat was a "little fat girl, 15 years old and that it was too much for her to be on the run."

Kern County Animal Control raided her Tehachapi home in July and found at least 60 neglected pets and 14 dead animals in a freezer. Gilbert says only one cat died in her possession and it died of natural causes.

She was arrested and charged with ten counts of animal cruelty, then later charged with threatening her attorney, which she denies doing. She said that's when she hit the road.

"So when I saw that, I didn't have $500,000 bail, so I didn't come to court," said Gilbert. "It's their own fault I didn't come to court, putting that new charge on me."

Gilbert, who has gone by a number of aliases, was found last week in a Los Angeles County motel room. She is steadfast in her innocence and says it's all Animal Control's fault.

"Those cats that were found in the motel were left at my Tehachapi house during the week I was in jail by Animal Control. They were left with no food or water," claims Gilbert.

There's also an issue over Gilbert's true identity. An investigation by bail bondsman Bob Herman, who tracked her down, shows Gilbert possessed credit cards under as many as ten different names.

A man in Northern California told 17 news last week, that his sister is the real Anita Gilbert, who died of cancer in Florida last year
Source: KGET - Oct 30, 2008
Update posted on Nov 2, 2008 - 9:40PM 
The trial date for a Tehachapi woman accused of animal cruelty has been set. A judge decided the trial for the woman who calls herself Anita Gilbert will begin on Dec. 22.

Wednesday Gilbert went before a judge in Mojave to face charges she threatened her attorney.

Animal control officers raided the woman's Tehachapi home in July. They say they and found at least 60 neglected pets and 14 dead animals in a freezer.

Officers picked her up last week on an outstanding warrant in Van Nuys, after she allegedly skipped out on a previous court appearance.
Source: KGET - Oct 31, 2008
Update posted on Nov 2, 2008 - 8:18PM 
Accused pet abuser Anita Gilbert appeared disheveled and confused Wednesday in her first Kern County court appearance since August after she was tracked down by a bail bondsmen in Reseda last week.

With the help of a walker, she hobbled into a Mojave courtroom to be arraigned on charges of threatening a public defender assigned to defend her against animal cruelty charges.

As the charges against her were read, a tearful Gilbert cried out: "That's a lie."

Kern County Superior Court Commissioner Michael Gutstein entered a not guilty plea for Gilbert and assigned her a new attorney.

When Gutstein asked her true name, she said "Anita Gilbert," even though she's known to use aliases and has been accused by a San Rafael man of stealing his sister's identity. Gutstein also said during the hearing that Gilbert was convicted of threatening a Los Angeles judge in 1993. The woman in that case went by the name Cynthia Gudger.

Before the hearing, Gilbert turned to reporters and television cameras and said jail officials wouldn't allow her to take her cancer medication. She again turned to the press when the hearing ended, saying jail officials told her she should commit suicide. Four bailiffs eventually escorted her from the room.

Gilbert faces 10 counts of felony animal cruelty charges after she was found living amid filth, sick animals and pet corpses in Tehachapi in July.

Animal control officers seized 34 cats, 18 dogs and 12 animal carcasses from the freezer.

Gilbert is scheduled to return to court for the animal cruelty case Thursday.
Source: The Bakersfield Californian - Oct 29, 2008
Update posted on Oct 29, 2008 - 7:47PM 
Anita Gilbert is back in Kern County. The fugitive and accused animal abuser was moved from Los Angeles to Mojave Tuesday. She was in the Mojave jail Tuesday evening, according to the Kern County sheriff's inmate Web site.

The name Anita Gilbert is one of a number of assumed aliases for a woman who has not yet been identified by Kern County authorities.

She's scheduled to be arraigned on felony charges of threatening a public official, her former public defender, in the Mojave branch of Kern County Superior Court this morning.

Gilbert is also due in court in Bakersfield Thursday to be arraigned on 10 charges of animal cruelty.

Gilbert was captured by a Lancaster bail bondsman in Reseda last week after she skipped out on an August arraignment hearing on the abuse charges and spent two months on the run - using a number of fake names and documents to secure apartments and motel rooms where she hid from authorities.
Source: The Bakersfield Californian - Oct 28, 2008
Update posted on Oct 28, 2008 - 9:53PM 
The Kern County woman accused of animal cruelty is now behind bars.

The woman who has gone by the name Anita Gilbert was taken into custody by bounty hunters and turned over to Van Nuys police around 6 p.m. Thursday. We're told Gilbert resisted arrest and had to be wrestled to the ground to be restrained.

Gilbert, who is 59-years-old, has been in hiding since late August after an arrest warrant was issued charging her with threatening a deputy public defender and failing to appear in court on animal abuse charges.

In July, animal control officers seized about 60 dogs and cats from what they called filthy conditions at Gilbert's home and warehouse near Tehachapi.

Gilbert has been booked into a jail in Los Angeles County where she's being held without bail. We're told she'll be returned to Kern County Friday.
Source: Bakersfield Now - Oct 23, 2008
Update posted on Oct 24, 2008 - 2:17AM 
An attorney for accused animal abuser Anita Gilbert fought Thursday to block Kern County Animal Control from euthanizing any more of her pets.

Gilbert, a fugitive facing two felony warrants for her arrest, wasn't there and told The Californian she has no plans to surrender.

In a hearing before Kern County Superior Court Commissioner Linda Etienne, attorney Clayton Campbell argued the county should have to get approval from a veterinarian chosen by Gilbert before they put any animals of Gilbert's to sleep.

Etienne had not released her decision Thursday afternoon.

Gilbert's fear, Campbell said, was that the county plans a wholesale execution of the animals.

County attorney Charles Collins argued the county has no intention of putting the animals to sleep unless they're terminally ill.

He said the only evidence the county plans to euthanize all of Gilbert's animals comes from Gilbert.

"All we're dealing with is the fears and thoughts of Anita Gilbert - a fugitive from justice," he said.

Campbell said the county has been reluctant to release medical records so his client can be certain the animals were put down for legitimate medical reasons.

Gilbert was arrested by animal control officers on July 17 on multiple felony charges of animal abuse after they found her living in horrible conditions with 33 cats, 18 dogs and several animal corpses.

She made bail but later failed to attend a court hearing and a no-bail warrant was issued for her arrest.

Gilbert also faces charges of threatening a public defender, which she denies.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Gilbert refused to say where she is living other than that she's in the hospital undergoing cancer care.

She said if she revealed her location, she'd be arrested and her doctor has said she would die if jailed.

Gilbert said she told Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn she would surrender to authorities, knowing it would kill her, if the county released her animals to rescue groups she likes.

Yraceburn confirmed the offer but said the county will not release the animals, which are evidence in the court case against Gilbert and under the court's jurisdiction.
Source: Bakersfield Californian - Sept 11, 2008
Update posted on Sep 11, 2008 - 10:17PM 
The warehouse on Bear Valley Road has been cleaned. Trash and feces and animals -- living and dead -- have been hauled away. But the concrete floors still exude the stench of filth.

On July 16, Kern County Animal Control officers arrested Anita Gilbert, 59, who was living inside the warehouse with 15 dogs and 37 cats, on charges of felony animal abuse.

They seized her animals.

Sam Farr was one of several people hired to clean the warehouse after the arrest.

As workers began excavating 3-foot deep drifts of urine-soaked trash and feces, they uncovered brand new purses with the sales tags still attached, he said.

Inside a little freezer was a purse decorated with pictures of kittens. Inside the purse were zip-lock bags filled with kitten corpses, Farr said.

"They were individually named," he said.

While Farr was working, Gilbert, who'd made bail, returned to the warehouse.

"The first thing she grabbed was that bag," Farr said.

Gilbert said she is being persecuted by officers, sheriff's deputies, county judges and her own public defender.

All she wants is to make sure her pets are safe, Gilbert said.

"I love the animals like they're my children," she said.

Gilbert said she is not responsible for the condition her animals were found in, that she has bone cancer and was in Florida for treatment until 10 days before the raid.

When she got back she lived inside the warehouse.

Gilbert said she didn't feel comfortable living in the large house next door because it was in disrepair and it didn't seem fair that the animals had to live in the warehouse and she didn't.

Gilbert has fought for her animals back.

She's phoned county officials, tried to make deals to see her animals, investigated her investigators and requested the pets be moved to the control of someone she trusts.

Animal Control Chief Denise Haynes said Gilbert has repeatedly called her, hanging up and re-dialing over and over if Haynes didn't pick up on the first ring.

When Haynes told Gilbert that a veterinarian put one of her favorite cats to sleep, Gilbert lashed out with a stream of expletives, Haynes said.

Gilbert has accused her public defender of conspiring against her, sheriff's deputies of hounding her and two judges of toying with her in court.

When she drove to her home in Tehachapi, she found it surrounded by Kern County sheriff's cars. She hasn't gone back since.

"I had to hide in the back of one of my worker's vans," Gilbert said.

Sheriff's officials from the Tehachapi substation said they weren't called out to Gilbert's home. They were checking on a burglary alarm at her neighbor's house.

Gilbert is scheduled to be arraigned in Bakersfield on 10 felony animal abuse charges on Thursday.
Source: The Bakersfield Californian - Aug 18, 2008
Update posted on Aug 18, 2008 - 11:12AM 
A Kern County woman accused of 41 felony animal cruelty counts denies the charges against her, and pleads to get her animals back. But officers say it's one of the worst cases they've seen.

Thursday, the 15 dogs and 37 cats were at the Kern County Animal Control shelter in Mojave after being seized from the Cummings Valley home of 59-year-old Anita Gilbert.

From jail, Gilbert told Eyewitness News she cared for all the animals like they were her family.

"I was a severely-abused child, so I don't have family. But, my animals are my family. They're like my children. They're all named," says Gilbert.

As Eyewitness News first reported Wednesday night, animal control officers seized the animals from a large house and big steel structure on Bear Valley Road.

Resource Management Agency Director Dave Price says the officers who went to get the animals found unsanitary and dangerous conditions.

"The conditions were were so apparent, so putrid -- that our officers could only spend several moments, literally minutes in there at a time before they had to be spelled."

Price says they found dogs in cages with feces up to their stomachs. He says there were feces and open pet food cans all through the big warehouse.

Gilbert says she kept the place clean. The dogs had good-sized runs, and she'd just cleaned them up enough that "you could eat off the floor."

She says the cats usually stayed in the house, though they were moved into the warehouse when the house needed some renovations. Gilbert says some cats then were kept in cages, but that was temporary.

But, Gilbert says she just got back about ten days ago, after being in Florida for four months to be treated for bone cancer. Gilbert says she paid someone to care for the animals while she was gone.

"The whole time I was in Florida getting chemo, somebody was supposed to be taking care of the animals -- and she let it go."

Gilbert says some conditions had gotten "dirty" -- but says the animals were well-fed, and she got medical care for them.

But, Animal Control says two of the seized cats had leukemia and had to be euthanized. Gilbert was horrified to hear that, and demanded that a judge issue an order to prevent any more animals from being put down.

"I need, I need that protective order to keep them from dying. Please Judge Oglesby -- if you could do that tonight." Gilbert says she's appeared before Judge John Oglesby before in Mojave court on other matters.

Animal control officers say they also found 14 dead animals in bags in a freezer. Gilbert denied there were that many animals in the freezer, and said she was waiting to bury them.

Gilbert says she got unwanted animals from people, even law officers -- and rescued many from animal shelters. She also says Kern County Animal Control Director Denise Haynes gave her five dogs to rescue late last year.

Eyewitness News asked Resource Management's Dave Price about that -- he'd never heard about it.

"If that were to be the case, I expect there would be some record of that," he told Eyewitness News. "Although, in and of itself -- unless she had been an approved rescue organization by the department -- that certainly would not be the case."

Gilbert said for years, she's often taken her animals to the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital to get them needed care. Eyewitness News called that office, and they had no record she'd been a customer.

Gilbert also mentioned a "Dr. Stine" as a vet who cared for the animals at that facility. Staff at the Beverly Hills hospital referred Eyewitness News to another office, they said their Dr. Stine had no knowledge of Gilbert.

Gilbert also said she was working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Eyewitness News called that organization. Spokeswoman Lisa Franzetta said she had never heard of Gilbert.

Gilbert is set to be in court Friday morning. She says she wants her animals protected from being euthanized. Gilbert says she was taking good care of the cats and dogs -- and trying to save them.

"I will fight to the end to get every last animal back," she says.
Source: Bakersfield Now - July 18, 2008
Update posted on Jul 20, 2008 - 5:39PM 
A woman accused of animal cruelty in Kern County may be the same woman facing similar charges in Riverside County. Animal Control officers from Riverside identified the suspect during a court hearing in Mojave on Friday.

Eyewitness News was also in the courtroom of the Mojave Superior Court when 59-year-old Anita Gilbert appeared on the Kern County charges.

Riverside Department of Animal Services Field Commander Rita Gutierrez says Gilbert is the woman they knew as "Barbara Ryan."

Riverside County has an arrest warrant out for Ryan from a 2006 case. Gutierrez says Ryan skipped out on that case. She's wanted on five felony counts of animal cruelty and one count of vandalism.

The vandalism comes from damage to a house Ryan was allegedly renting in the community of Hemet. That's where the case started when a neighbor reported a cockroach infestation.

When Riverside officials investigated, they found the house next door in filthy condition with about 40 cats and dogs inside.

"They were tied so closely to cabinets and walls, there was so much urine on the floor that it was wicking up into the drywall -- the drywall was disintegrating," Officer Gutierrez told Eyewitness News.

"The curtains had wicked up urine about half-way up the walls. The animals were standing in so much that their pads were being burned by the urine and the feces burned their flesh," says Gutierrez.

The officer says the animals were infested with fleas and roaches. Gutierrez says Riverside seized more than 40 animals, and some eventually died because of the condition they were in.

Near Tehachapi, Kern County Animal Control officers seized about 60 cats and dogs from a warehouse on Bear Valley Road where Gilbert was living. Officers said conditions were dangerous and unsanitary.

In that warehouse, local officers found paperwork linking Gilbert to the case in Riverside -- that's when they contacted officials in that county.

The Riverside officer says, not only did they identify "Gilbert" as the woman from their case -- some of the animals seized by Kern County are the same animals they had seized.

Officer Gutierrez says a judge in Riverside County allowed the 40 animals taken from "Barbara Ryan" to be returned to a doctor and some animal rescue groups.

"Under the judge's order, those animals did go to these different organizations," says Gutierrez. "But oddly enough, when we were just here at the Kern County animal shelter, we identified these animals as ones that were supposed to be held within these organizations or adopted out to other people."

Gutierrez says they have no idea how Gilbert -- or Ryan -- got back into possession of these animals.

In Kern County, Anita Gilbert faces 41 felony charges of animal cruelty. In court on Friday she asked the judge to let her represent herself.

Judge John Oglesby refused that request, citing Gilbert's behavior in court and the serious nature of the charges against her. Judge Oglesby reduce Gilbert's bail from $205,000 to $100,000 -- and appointed a public defender to her case.

On Thursday, in a jail-house interview -- Gilbert said Kern County Animal Control Director Denise Haynes had given her five dogs to rescue. Gilbert said that happened late last year.

Eyewitness News asked Resource Management Agency Director Dave Price about that. On Friday, Price said that department had checked, and found no record that ever happened.

Price says they checked adoption and rescue records under both "Anita Gilbert" and "Barbara Ryan." They also checked all records for rescue groups and for the address near Tehachapi where Gilbert was found with the animals.

Riverside County officials say they'll work with Kern County on this case. Animal Control officer Rita Gutierrez says her office is sure this is the same woman they want for the 2006 case. Eyewitness News asked what she might know about the two different names.

"We have no idea," says Gutierrez. "None at all. In fact, we even have her original rental agreement with the property-owner in Hemet (where the 40 animals were found) and she used a different name."
Source: Bakersfield Now - July 19, 2008
Update posted on Jul 19, 2008 - 12:14PM 
Kern County Animal control officers say the animals were kept in terrible conditions with no food or water. But Anita Gilbert says that's simply not true. She says she loved and cared for each one of her pets.

"I've had a hard life. I have no family. My pets are like my children," Gilbert said.

Gilbert faces 41 felony counts of animal cruelty after animal control officiers raided her home and found dogs and cats living in what they call an extreme case of neglect. But says she spent four months in treatment for cancer in Florida and paid someone to care for her aminals while she was away. She also says she has only been home ten days and was cleaning up the mess.

Animal control officers say they not only found many neglected pets in her home. but there were also fourteen dead animals in a freezer. Gilbert says she was going to bury the animals in bulk.

Kern County Resources Department chief David Price also tells me code enforcement had to "red tag" Gilbert's house because there was so much animal waste and the air was so bad inside the home.
Source: KGET - July 19, 2008
Update posted on Jul 19, 2008 - 12:20PM 

References

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