Case Snapshot
Case ID: 17533
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull)
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Person(s) in animal care
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Tuesday, Mar 8, 2011

County: Laramie

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Dismissed (Conditional)

Person of Interest: Marci Biesheuvel

Case Updates: 4 update(s) available

Animal Control officers raided the Carpenter woman's home Tuesday, taking 47 dogs and four cats.

The owner of a Carpenter animal rescue has been charged with 51 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Cheyenne Animal Control issued the citations to Marci Biesheuvel of Carpenter on Thursday at her home.

She runs the Lit'l Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary that was raided Tuesday. Animal Control took 47 dogs and four cats from the mobile home three miles north of Carpenter on 4765 County Road 206.

According to Animal Control spokeswoman Baylie Evans, Biesheuvel was issued one citation for each animal that was seized from the residence.

Cheyenne Animal Shelter Executive Director Rick Collord described the scene as a public health hazard. The animals were kept in "horrid conditions surrounded by urine and feces," according to Evans.

Biesheuvel faces a maximum of six months in jail and a $750 fine or both for the first offense.

Subsequent offenses carry a maximum of a year in jail or a $5,000 fine or both, Evans said.

Collord said he does not want Biesheuvel to go to jail.

He said Biesheuvel apparently has some problems when it comes to bringing animals into her home. It is obvious that she wants to help animals, but she does not have the resources to do so, he added.

"We just want to make sure this doesn't continue to happen," Collord said.

Collord hopes the judge will rule that she can only have one or two animals.

One idea is to charge Biesheuvel restitution to cover the costs Animal Control incurred seizing the animals. Collord said Thursday he doesn't know those costs at this point.

Biesheuvel's initial court appearance is at 1:30 p.m. March 22 in Laramie County Circuit Court.

The animals will be held at the shelter until the court case is resolved, Evans said.

Last year, Animal Control officials seized more than 130 dogs, cats and rabbits from Biesheuvel. But charges in that case had to be dropped because there was no animal cruelty law to prosecute her under.

But a new state law passed by the Legislature this month may give Laramie County District Attorney Scott Homar the ability to prosecute this time.

Sponsor of the bill Sen. Gerald Geis, R-Worland, said he is pleased that his new law is already making a difference.

"That was the intent of it," Geis said. "I'm happy it's doing some good."


Case Updates

A Laramie County Circuit Court judge ruled Thursday that the owner of the Litl' Bit of Love animal rescue was not in violation of her probation, as animal control officials had alleged.

Marci Biesheuvel, 52, of Carpenter received a 301 deferred sentence and five years of supervised probation in October after pleading no contest to one count of animal cruelty.

A no-contest plea literally means, "I will not contest it," but has the same effect as a guilty plea. The plea cannot be used as an admission in other proceedings, however.

A month later, assistant district attorney TJ Forwood filed a petition to revoke her probation after a Cheyenne Animal Control officer said he had seen more than four animals in her home.

Judge Catherine Rogers denied the petition during a probation violation hearing Thursday.

Biesheuvel has operated the Litl' Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary out of her mobile home, located three miles north of Carpenter on County Road 206. The rescue was classified as a "no kill" shelter.

As part of her plea agreement, Biesheuvel was ordered to comply with all Cheyenne ordinances pertaining to animals, even though she lives in the county.

Therefore, she may have just four animals in her home at any given time, including dogs and cats. The order does not limit the number of animals she can have on her property, however, only in her mobile home. She also must submit to searches of her home.

During the hearing, Cheyenne Animal Control officer Christopher McAllister said he visited Biesheuvel's mobile home Oct. 31 to do a wellness check on her animals.

He testified that two dogs ran out from under her mobile home and into the home when he went inside. McAllister said those dogs laid on Biesheuvel's couch when they entered, but she quickly shooed them back outside.

McAllister testified that he saw one grey-and-white cat and two dogs, a Pekinese and an Italian Greyhound, in the home. He said he could hear a dog barking from the back room, adding that Biesheuvel told him the barking dog was a Chihuahua and that a feral cat had gotten into the house and was hiding under the couch.

However, Biesheuvel adamantly denied on the witness stand Thursday that there was a dog in the back room, saying that the Chihuahua was in a pen outside.

She said the only animals in her home that day were the grey-and-white cat, the Pekinese and the Italian Greyhound.

Biesheuvel said she has several dogs and about 40 feral cats on her property at any given time, but she only allows four animals in her home at any given time to abide by the probation order. She added that occasionally she will rotate the dogs through her home, but never more than what is allowed.

Biesheuvel's neighbor, Carol Olmstead, also testified that she has never seen more than four animals in Biesheuvel's house since the order was filed, including on Oct. 31, the day the animal control officer was there.

Biesheuvel was originally cited for each of the animals taken from her property by Cheyenne Animal Control on March 8, including 47 dogs and four cats. Biesheuvel surrendered the seized animals to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter shortly after they were taken.

Eight domestic dogs and about 20 feral barn cats were left on the property.

In 2010, 130 of Biesheuvel's dogs, cats and rabbits were taken to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, but the charges against her were dropped because Wyoming had no animal cruelty statute for prosecution. That changed during the 2010 legislative session.
Source: wyomingnews.com - Jan 6, 2012
Update posted on May 28, 2012 - 8:37PM 
A Carpenter woman pleaded no contest Thursday in Laramie County Circuit Court to one count of animal cruelty.

Marci Biesheuvel, 52, received a 301 deferral in the case, meaning that if she successfully completes her five-year probation term, the charges will not be made a part of her permanent record.

The second count filed against her was dismissed, and she was ordered to pay a $190 fine.

A no-contest plea literally means, "I will not contest it," but has the same effect as a guilty plea. The plea cannot be used as an admission in other proceedings, however.

As part of her plea agreement, Biesheuvel also was ordered to comply with all Cheyenne ordinances pertaining to animals, even though she lives in the county.

Therefore, she may have just four animals in her home at any given time, including dogs and cats. She also must submit to searches of her home. If she is found to have more than four animals, it will be a violation of her probation.

Biesheuvel was originally cited for each of the animals taken from her property by Cheyenne Animal Control March 8, including 47 dogs and four cats.

Eight domestic dogs and about 20 feral barn cats were left on the property.

Assistant district attorney T.J. Forwood filed an information superceding citations March 22, regarding "Cat 1" and a grey Italian greyhound known as "Dog 27." It alleged that the animals were confined in conditions that constitute a public health hazard.

The maximum penalty for animal cruelty is six months in jail and a $750 fine on a first offense. Subsequent offenses carry a penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Biesheuvel has operated the Lit'l Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary out of her mobile home, located three miles north of Carpenter on County Road 206. The rescue was classified as a "no kill" shelter.

Last year, 130 of Biesheuvel's dogs, cats and rabbits were taken to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter, but the charges against her were dropped because Wyoming had no animal cruelty statute for prosecution.

That changed during the 2010 legislative session.

Biesheuvel surrendered the seized animals to the shelter shortly after they were taken. Cheyenne Animal Shelter Executive Director Rick Collord said the majority of them have been adopted.

"We were able to get them into new homes or transfer then into new groups that could help them if we couldn't," Collord said. "She surrendered them within weeks of us confiscating. It was very helpful that way."

Collord said it's better for the animals when the owners surrender them because then they can get into new homes with individualized attention.

Housing the animals owners refuse to surrender also is very expensive, he said.

Most of the animals taken from Biesheuvel's property were healthy, Collord said, adding, "They were just being kept in poor conditions."
Source: wyomingnews.com - Oct 14, 2011
Update posted on Oct 14, 2011 - 1:12PM 
The former owner of an animal rescue in Carpenter, Wyoming, that was raided March 8th, has surrendered her animals.

A total of 51 animals were given to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter.

Marci Biesheuvel's attorney contacted the Animal Shelter over the weekend.

The attorney said Biesheuvel would surrender the animals, if the shelter was willing to forgo the $1,000 daily fee she was paying.

Instead of waiting for the court to decide what to do with the animals, the 47 dogs and four cats can be adopted right after each has been neutered.

Most are small-breed dogs like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, and are generally healthy, friendly, and ready to go to a good home.

The animals were taken from Biesheuvel's mobile home where she runs "Lit'l Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary'.

The animals were reportedly living in "appalling conditions surrounded by urine and feces. They were allegedly kept in kennels stacked on top of each other for most of every day".

"Although Ms. Biesheuvel made some bad choices and got in over her head in this situation, we're glad she made the choice to surrender the animals," said Cheyenne Animal Shelter Executive Director Rick Collord. "It means the animals don't have to wait for the court to come to a conclusion before they can be given another chance at a happy life with a new family."

If you're interested in adopting one of these pets, you're encouraged to stop by the shelter to visit the animals.

Adoption fees for small-breed dogs is $95 for dogs older than 7 years, and $150 for dogs less than 7 years.

There are also four cats and several large-breed dogs that were seized.
Source: kgwn.tv - Mar 29, 2011
Update posted on Mar 29, 2011 - 10:58PM 
The owner of an animal rescue operation in Carpenter has pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Marci Biesheuvel entered her plea Tuesday in Cheyenne. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported that she asked a judge for a jury trial.

She is charged with 51 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, one for each of the dogs and cats taken from her home earlier this month.

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter said animals were being kept in horrible conditions, surrounded by urine and feces.

It's the second time in just over a year that animals have been seized from the Lit'l Bit of Love Animal Rescue and Sanctuary.

Charges were dropped in last year's case because authorities didn't get a veterinarian's determination that the animals were victims of cruelty.
Source: billingsgazette.com - Mar 23, 2011
Update posted on Mar 29, 2011 - 10:51PM 

References

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