Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18281
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Saturday, Jul 16, 2011

County: Wirt

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Elizabeth Smith

An Elizabeth woman has been arrested on several counts of animal cruelty after several dogs were rescued and three others were found dead by authorities last week, an official said.

Elizabeth Smith, age unknown, was arrested Friday on 11 counts of cruelty to animals after she turned herself in to the Wirt County Sheriff's Office, said Sheriff Keith Wilson.

"She came in on her own, we didn't have to get her," he said.

Smith was released on an unknown amount of bond Friday evening.

Each charge carries a possible penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a $500 fine.

On July 16, the Wirt County Sheriff's Office along with the Humane Society of Parkersburg came to the rescue of six living dogs at a Spring Valley property. Three puppies were dead at the mobile home while the three Labrador retrievers, a shepherd mix, a terrier mix and a dachshund that were rescued will soon be up for adoption.

Wilson said the charges include the living and deceased dogs as well as two others that were not taken to the humane society. The case has been on the radar of the department since early June when all of the dogs were alive and well, including the now deceased puppies.

At that time, a concerned caller told The Parkersburg News and Sentinel that dogs living in a mobile home were being periodically fed and watered by neighbors after their owner moved out of state.

Wilson told the newspaper the situation with the animals did not constitute animal cruelty and that he had seen dogs in "a bad situation" and the dogs in question were not in such a state.

On July 18, Maryann Hollis, executive director of the Humane Society of Parkersburg, said the six dogs rescued from the property were in good shape because neighbors fed them and provided water. The dogs were also infested by fleas and worms, but will soon be free of the pests.

At this time the dogs are not available for adoption, but are expected to be listed next week, Wilson said.

West Virginia state code does not allow confiscated dogs to be immediately adopted. It includes putting the dogs in a five-day release that gives their original owner the opportunity to claim the animals. In June, it was reported by Wilson that the animals' owner is Cheryl Joy, who moved out of state and left the dogs in the care of Smith.

An unnamed friend of Smith's told the newspaper that the caregiver did what she could for the dogs given her financial situation, but got in over her head and had nowhere else to go.

"She was doing the best she could in a not ideal situation," the friend said. "The responsibility of the dogs' care was with the owner, who did not follow through on her monetary responsibility to the caregiver."


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