Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18428
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), bird (pet), reptile
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Sunday, Aug 14, 2011

County: Crittenden

Charges: Misdemeanor, Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 2 files available

» Heather Hale
» William Merritt Hale, Jr.

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

On the first day of school, a West Memphis, Arkansas teacher spent the morning in court facing 16 counts of felony aggravated animal cruelty.

Heather Hale and her husband William Hale, Jr. were both arrested Sunday after more than a dozen dogs, birds and reptiles were found living in filthy conditions in their home in Proctor.

Monday, volunteers with the Marion Arkansas Animal Shelter spent the day bathing and removing matted hair from several of the small dogs.

Dogs that are hard to recognize and under all their hair are just skin and bones.

"She's matted up underneath. Basically, all that's on her is her skin. I mean she had no meat on her," said Rusty Coleman.

Rusty Coleman says in his seven years as an animal control officer this is one of the worst cases of animal abuse he's ever seen.

"This supposedly started out with four dogs, but when we started going through the house it was a different ball game," said Coleman.

And photographs show exactly what Coleman and law enforcement officers found inside that house.

The floors were covered with feces and there was dirty water in a bathtub.

Some dogs were found in cages and others were confined to rooms with makeshift gates.

"Literally there was not a place in that house where you could set your foot or whatever without stepping on feces or urine," said Chief Mike Callender with the Crittenden County Sheriff's Department.

"There were people that went out and threw up," Callender added. "It was bad. We had to put respirators on to stay in the house. It was horrific."

It was from a house at 2584 Lakerest Road in Proctor, Arkansas that Paco and dozens of other animals were rescued.

When neighbors saw a matted Labradoodle running free, that led to the phone call that busted the animal hoarding situation wide open.

Taken from the home were 13 dogs, 6 exotic birds, 1 large python and two lizards. Found dead inside were five dogs and four pythons.

"We also found out in the front yard, burn sights" said Callender, "where it looks like there are carcasses of dead dogs that have been burned."

Heather and William Hale, Jr. were initially charged with 41 counts of animal cruelty. Following a court hearing on Monday August 15, 2011, 25 counts were dropped. They couple is currently out of jail on $35,000 bond each.

"The why is a real mystery," said Callender.

The first order of business is to get the animals healthy.

"Some of them aren't going to be so lucky," said Becky Ellison, the animal control officer for Marion, Arkansas.
However, some of them may have a bright future.

"The little ones, the Shih Tzu's and Pomeranians, once we give them a good haircut, they'll be looking mighty cute."

The bigger dogs were in distress. One German Shepard was literally skin and bones, another was clearly scarred where a wire was wrapped and tightened around his rib cage and his hind legs.

"He's in really sad shape," Ellison told "I don't know what we're going to do about him."

That does not mean caring individuals like Becky won't try.

"They all got baths today," Ellison said.

The exotic birds were all in pretty good shape, but Ellison said their cages were "gross and disgusting."

Sheriff's deputies say the couple who own the house, Heather and William Hale, Jr., claimed to be living there at least part of the time and were both there when the property was raided.

The animals are now up for adoption, but it's a waiting game to see which ones survive.

"All we an do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst," said Coleman.

The Marion, Arkansas Animal Shelter is need of financial assistance caring for all the animals.

Ellison added she was overwhelmed at the Marion Animal Shelter and that Crittenden County was in desperate need of a shelter of its own to aid in cases like this.

If you can help or are interested in adopting one of the animals you can contact the Marion Animal Shelter at (870) 739-5412.

Case Updates

Two dogs are lucky to be alive today...lucky to be free from a horrific past.

The dogs, German shepherds, were rescued from a couple's home in Proctor just days ago - a home so filthy that the couple is facing numerous animal cruelty charges.

One look at their bodies tells much of their prior life.

Their bodies reveal a life of blatant neglect.

Both dogs are emaciated and missing most of their fur. Both dogs have eye infections, and if they are like the other dogs who were pulled from the filth-ridden house, they will test positive for heartworms.

These dogs were among 13 who were pulled from the house.

Five dogs lost their lives at the same home - only their bodies were left in the piles of waste. Officials believe that others perished at the home and were burned in the front yard - evidenced by the carcasses and burn marks discovered near the home.

Heather and William Hale Jr. were arrested after officials discovered the horror inside of their residence - initially the couple faced 41 counts of animal cruelty.

Mysteriously, after a court hearing days ago, 25 of those counts were dropped.

Many of the dogs who were rescued from this house of horrors moved on to a new nightmare - being killed at the local animal control.

If rescuers did not speak up to take the abused dogs in, they were suffering, unvetted, at the faciility, until they were killed.

The two dogs pictured with this story were not spoken up for - that is, until Janice Wolf with Rocky Ridge Refuge learned of their condition and urgent need.

Wolf, who single-handedly runs Rocky Ridge Refuge, took both dogs into her sanctuary - even though she had just taken in two other dogs from another neglect situation.

The dogs have survived the worst of humanity - they are far from any semblance of health - but they are finally in the best of hands.

Under Wolf's loving care, both dogs will finally know what compassion is.

Under Wolf's care - they will finally know what truly being alive is.

Their days of existing in their own feces and urine - of suffering through starvation and dehydration - are over.

Wolf runs the rescue solely on donations - it goes without saying, there will be many expenses involved with these long-time victims of neglect.

If you would like to participate in showing these dogs the best of humanity, you can donate directly on the Rocky Ridge Refuge website, or mail a donation to:

Janice Wolf/Rocky Ridge Refuge, 425 County Road 1123, Gassville, AR 72635
Update posted on Aug 19, 2011 - 3:24PM 


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