Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19106
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012

County: Porter

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Donna Montoya

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Porter County Animal Control officials seized 27 additional dogs from a Chesterton-area home Thursday, bringing the two-day total to approximately 82 animals.

Donna Montoya, 50, of 190 E. County Road 1400N in Westchester Township, could face multiple counts of cruelty to animals, Class A misdemeanors. Sgt. Larry LaFlower, public information officer with the Porter County Sheriff's Department, expects the Porter County Prosecutor's Office to have a report from animal control by next week, and charges could follow.

Three people suffered dog bites during the seizure Wednesday, when animal control and sheriff's department officers arrived with a search warrant outlining a lack of proper food or water for the dogs; a lack of vaccinations and diseased dogs; and dogs attacking each other.

Officials have said it's one of the worst apparent cases of animal hoarding they've seen.

"The bottom line is, it is a mental illness," said Mary Hodson, executive director of Mental Health America of Porter County, noting that, according to statistics from the International OCD Foundation, 5.6 percent of the world's population suffers from clinical hoarding.

Her agency, which links people to mental health resources in the community, has received 12 calls in the past three months from people who were concerned that a friend or loved one was engaging in hoarding.

When it comes to animal hoarding, Hodson said there is no intent of cruelty. "It's a public health and a community health issue."

Montoya, who named each of the dogs, said at the scene she knew she had too many dogs and had worked in the past with the Porter County Animal Shelter to get the number under control.

"With hoarding, it's usually not thoughtless acts of neglect and cruelty," said Kate Vanderlin, a manager at the shelter who's known Montoya since 2009.

Vanderlin has handled cases of cat hoarding in Porter County, but this is the only one she knows of in the county involving dogs.

"We just hope Donna gets the emotional support that she needs," she said. "Donna knows that she needed help. She signed (the dogs) over to the shelter. She chose 12 to post bond for."

All but one of those dogs are spayed or neutered, Vanderlin said, and Montoya would have to go through a hearing to determine if she could have the dogs back.

"We want to make sure this doesn't happen again," she said.

The younger dogs that are healthy might be able to be rehabilitated and adopted out, though the feral dogs, which haven't had contact with people, will most likely be euthanized because they can't be socialized, something Montoya understands, Vanderlin said.

"The younger ones have a chance," she said. "We have to do what's best for the animals and best for public safety."

Case Updates

On Wednesday, 20 more adult dogs and three puppies were seized from Donna Montoya as she was arrested on numerous animal-abuse charges.

This makes a total of 105 dogs that Porter County Sheriff's Police and Animal Control officers have removed since January from the house at 190 E. County Road 1400N in Westchester Township near Chesterton.

She is being held without bond at the Porter County Jail until her initial appearance before Superior Court Judge Julia Jent.

This latest group of dogs was in better condition than those seized previously. "They look pretty good. They're not as traumatized as the ones we took in, in January," said Jon Thomas, interim director of the Porter County Animal Shelter.

Montoya was arrested on a warrant for 11 counts of neglect of an animal and three counts of harboring a nonimmunized dog; all are misdemeanors.

On Jan. 11 and 12, police served a search warrant at Montoya's home after neighbors complained of the number of dogs and conditions inside and outside of the house, including their worries that feces may be contaminating water in the area. The warrant outlined a lack of food, water and vaccinations, and the problems of diseased dogs and the animals attacking each other. Montoya had relinquished seven puppies to the animal shelter the week before, and officials seized 75 dogs in the two days. Three people were bitten in the process.

From the first group of dogs, some have since been adopted and others were euthanized " although Thomas would not say how many " because they could not be socialized to the point of being safe to be around humans and other animals. Of the first group of animals, approximately 18 remain with Porter and Lake counties' animal control and another 20 remain with foster families.

The 23 dogs seized Wednesday morning had been left in the home because the number of dogs overwhelmed the temporary shelter and foster families the Porter County Animal Shelter had lined up before the warrant was executed.

While the Porter County Health Department was at the property on Jan. 11, the first day the warrant was executed, it is not known if the home currently is under investigation, said Sgt. Larry LaFlower, public information officer for the Sheriff's Department.
Source: - Feb 15, 2012
Update posted on Feb 15, 2012 - 10:03PM 


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