Case Snapshot
Case ID: 17539
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), goat
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Child or elder neglect
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Friday, Mar 11, 2011

County: Sebastian

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Leta Stevens

More than 60 animals have been removed from a Bloomer home in Sebastian County.

The Sebastian County Sheriff's Department joined the Humane Society in removing 60 animals and six children from the home.

Sgt. Stephen Cox says, "We found children sleeping on the concrete among the feces."

The Sebastian County Sheriff's Office was called to the residence at 4705 Bloomer Road in Bloomer, about four miles south of Lavaca, after receiving a tip about a possible puppy mill. There wasn't a puppy mill, but Sgt. Stephen Cox said "the human mind can't imagine" how bad the conditions were inside the home.

In all, six children were living in the residence that was filled with animal waste and apparently had no food, Cox said. A small ice chest with a small amount of dog food was the only evidence of food at the residence, he said.

Cox said there were six adults responsible for the home, including grandparents and two sets of parents. The children, ages 2 to 14, are all related, Cox said.

No charges have been filed, but Cox will present all the information to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office on Monday. Possible charges include cruelty to animals and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Cox said about 30 dogs as well as several goats lived inside the home. There were chain-link runs and kennels outside, the remnants of a puppy mill from previous owners, where more animals were housed.

"The living room was for the goats and the dogs," Cox said. "They had cats and dogs in the old cages, and then they had dogs all the way around the house out into the woods on chains. Some of them were deceased still on the chains."

He said the dogs were "skin and bones," and all of the animals, including ducks and hamsters, are in the custody of the Sebastian County Humane Society.

Cox said this ranks among the worst scenes he has witnessed.

"I don't understand the human mind for allowing themselves as adults to live in that environment, and then to have children living in that environment," he said. "I don't understand how people can live like that.";

Leta Stevens says she was taking good care of all of the dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, gerbils, and ducks found at her home. "I love my animals more than I love myself. I would do without eating before one of my animals would go without eating."

Deputies are hoping to press charges for child endangerment and animal cruelty.

This is the second case of animal hoarding the Sebastian County Humane Society has had to deal with. Just last week it removed 40 animals from a home in Mountainburg.


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