Case Snapshot
Case ID: 5117
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment, Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Child or elder neglect
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Friday, Jul 22, 2005

County: Ada

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Jolene Simmons

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

Sixty-four dogs were seized from a three bedroom home in Garden City on July 22. The owner was arrested.  Garden City Police and animal control officers arrived on Millright Street in Garden City after Idaho Health and Welfare called them regarding a five-year-old girl said to be living there in unsanitary conditions.

Sgt. Blair Brannon described that the inside of the home had "the overwhelming smell and visual of urine feces...things like that."

Sgt. Brannon said officers found 64 dogs and puppies inside the home and garage in blocked-off rooms and kennels.

He said the girl's legal guardians were contacted and they came and got her, but as for the dog owner, 52-year old Elizabeth Simmons, she was arrested for animal cruelty, failure to license animals and obstructing police officers.

"On really hot days with good wind, I could tell by the aroma and a lack of probably cleaning up the yard...I could tell there was quite a few dogs back there," said next door neighbor Melody Forsberg, who was surprised to hear the number of dogs was 64.

Other than a stench and some barking, Forsberg and neighbor David Wise say they've never had a problem with Simmons or her dogs, but Forsberg said she's concerned about her little puppy's health, after hearing there were problems with some of Simmons dogs.

When asked about whether the dogs and puppies appeared sickly or healthy, Sgt. Brannon replied, "I'm not a vet, but they all appeared to be fine." He added that they were being tested for parvo anyway.

Brannon also added that this doggie dilemma was no easy task.

"We took all marked units and started putting kennels in the back of cars with air on full blast--we didn't want anything to happen to the dogs, so they actually got first class service."

Police say the dogs are being held at the Garden City Animal Shelter and Ada Animal Hospital until Elizabeth Simmons can get the proper licensing and figure out where to house them.


Case Updates

A breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will serve two months of home detention and another 22 months on probation for selling a dog to a breeder without a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Attorney Tom Moss announced today.

Elizabeth Simmons, also known as Jolene Sorenson, operated her business, Royal Family Cavaliers, from her home in Garden City, advertising primarily on the Internet. At one point she had 64 dogs at the home, which was approximately 1000 square feet in size.

Simmons pleaded guilty in July to the misdemeanor charge. In sentencing her last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge commented that "it's not the biggest case, but it had a lot of feelings behind it." He also ordered Simmons to pay $4,500 in restitution to the buyers of several of her dogs.

A USDA license is required in order for a person to sell dogs to breeders on a wholesale basis. According to Simmons' plea agreement, in February 2005 she sold a male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to licensed USDA dog breeders A. & L. Bruna for $1,800, with the promise that the dog could be registered with the Kennel Club of England. Simmons did not provide the Brunas with documentation to support registration of the dog, nor could the dog have been registered since only dogs born and bred in England can be registered.

When Simmons did live in England, in 2004, she was investigated for defrauding purchasers of her dogs and creating fraudulent health certificates.

Moss commended the Garden City Police Department for its extensive work on the case. "As responsible dog breeders well know, there are good reasons for these rules," he said. "When someone breaks them, law enforcement and the justice system take it seriously."

CONTACT: JEAN McNEIL
Public Information Officer
GEORGE BREITSAMETER
Assistant United States Attorney
(208) 334-1211
Source: U.S. Department of Justice Press Release - Jan 23, 2007
Update posted on Jan 23, 2007 - 5:51PM 
We have been advised that there may an update forthcoming on this case. We are waiting for official confirmation and will post that update as soon as confirmation has been received.
Update posted on Aug 8, 2006 - 4:08PM 
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has issued an Action Alert on Simmons' case, available here, asking for polite letters to Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Bower to encourage Mr. Bower to seek incarceration and a lifetime ban on animal ownership if she is convicted.

Ms. Simmons has managed to harass all of the local media publications in the area into removing any articles involving her or this story, and she has harassment charges pending against her in criminal court as well. PETA also asks that be ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and subsequent counseling at her personal expense.
Update posted on Oct 27, 2005 - 8:09AM 
According to a Jul 28, 2005 article in the Idaho Statesman, police have returned the confiscated dogs to Simmons, however police have confirmed that she is still facing several charges, including animal cruelty.

Simmons, who goes by "Elizabeth", was reportedly jailed on Jul 22 after officers found King Charles spaniels in her small three-bedroom home. Garden City codes limit the number of dogs allowed in a residence without a kenneling license to three, according to Garden City Police Sgt. Jerry Walbey.

On July 27, police reportedly returned the dogs to Simmons "because they're her property and I have no reason to hold them," said Walbey. According to the Idaho Statesman article, Walbey added that Simmons told police she will now house the dogs in a building outside the city limits. According to Walbey, she refused to tell police where that building is.

According to the same Idaho Statesman article, Walbey stated that Simmons doesn't have a kennel license, and her Garden City house would not qualify for one so if she brings the dogs home, police could rearrest her.

Walbey stated that police will check in on Simmons to make sure she is in compliance with city codes. He said that none of the dogs were visibly ill, despite unsanitary conditions in Simmons' home. "They certainly weren't abused in any respect we could identify," he said.

Simmons still faces misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, failure to license animals and obstructing police officers, as well as an old warrant for making harassing phone calls. The 5 year old girl was returned to her parents.
Source: The Idaho Statesman - Jul 28, 2005
Update posted on Oct 10, 2005 - 10:58PM 
Two misdemeanor charges of injury to a child were filed against Jolene "Elizabeth" Simmons after police removed 64 small dogs from her house on July 22, 2005. Charges were reportedly filed on July 26, 2005. Police say Simmons, 52, exposed two small children to unsanitary conditions while she kept the dogs in her home.

Simmons told local news station KBCI that she's the victim of trumped up charges and lies.

According to a July 26 KBCI article, Simmons has been charged with animal cruelty as well as failure to obtain proper licenses. According to the same news report, she said her home was not "a puppy shop" and the dogs, rare King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, were kept in neat and tidy conditions.

"My dogs were in fine condition, well cared for," she said. "I sell my dogs -- if and when I sell them -- to other show friends who show my dogs and make them for up to $2,000 to $5,000."

According to the KBCI article, Simmons claims she was doing nothing wrong by keeping the dogs in her house. "I don't care what the state says," Simmons said, "I do what's best for my dogs and my dogs come first. I have been breeding for 15 years and have 20 champions to my name."

Court records show an Ohio couple filed a lawsuit in June against Simmons in Ada County small claims court, in an attempt to recover $1,200 they say they sent Simmons for a puppy they attempted to purchase from her over the Internet.

"But we never received the puppy," said Paula Clay of Chesapeake, OH in a phone interview with KBCI. "We sent the money but then we were told the puppy we were going to buy had died and we had to wait for another one."

According to the KBCI article, Clay said Simmons told her a second puppy had died, but she could sell a higher breed for another $200 more. Paula Clay asked Simmons to ship the puppy to her so her veterinarian could check it out and she would put the remainder of the money in escrow. Simmons refused, according to the complaint, and said Clay was in default.

"We paid $1,200 and we still didn't get a puppy," said Clay. "I would call her a con artist with no morals."

Authorities in Garden City have given Simmons until midday Monday to find "suitable and lawful placement for the dogs" or the animal will be given up for adoption.
Source: KBCI - July 26, 2005
Update posted on Jul 26, 2005 - 7:20PM 

References

  • KBCI - July 24, 2005
  • KBCI - July 23, 2005
  • KBCI - July 25, 2005


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