Animal abuse case highlights parish-wide increase in neglect

October 11, 2007 at 10:50 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

This young, sweet dog is recovering at the parish animal shelter after being nearly starved to death. The animal was forced to live in a crate and was found covered in his own feces.
Photo by Shonna Riggs
This young, sweet dog is recovering at the parish animal shelter after being nearly starved to death. The animal was forced to live in a crate and was found covered in his own feces.
When St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s detectives busted into a Boutte home, they discovered drugs, young children, and a dog that was nearly starved to death.

The Sheriff’s office then notified the parish animal shelter, who has been taking care of the three and a half year-old dog ever since.

"The sheriff's office has been a great partner for us and we have their support when we report cases of animal neglect," Angie Roberts, director of the animal shelter said. "It's not unusual to find out that if a cat or dog has been neglected, that children or some other type of neglect is going on in the home of these residents."

According to St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office detectives, the children were not physically harmed, but the home was in a deplorable condition.

"Our detectives reported that there didn't appear to be enough food in the house to sustain the people that lived there, and the home wasn't clean," Chief Joe Cardella said.

An animal control officer from the shelter was shocked when she discovered the conditions that the dog was forced to live in.

"When I arrived at the Boutte residence, I discovered the puppy lying in his own feces in a crate, without any food or water," Shawn Palmisano said. "Once we got him to the shelter, he was assessed by our veterinarian and we gave him food and water to get him strong."

Palimsano even took the puppy home each night to provide additional care.

Lonzell Holmes, 18, Vida Holmes, 40, and Ralph Degree, 50, 200 Boutte Estates Drive, in Boutte were arrested and charged with simple animal cruelty, possession of marijuana, illegal possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a minor, and possession of drug paraphernalia

"Both Vida Holmes and Lonzell Holmes are out on bond, but Ralph Degree is still in jail pending with a bond set at $50,586," Cardella said.

In August, there were 11 cases of animal neglect, and there were six cases in September. As of Oct. 2, two dogs have already been treated and the owner's face possible charges of abuse and cruelty against animals, according to parish animal ordinances.

"Animal lovers should be aware that when you adopt a pet from the animal shelter or get a dog or cat from someone, taking proper care of the animal is important," Roberts said.

Dr. Marci Miranov, a vetenarian at the shelter, says she would like to teach classes to children to show them how to properly take care of their pets.

"Pet care is important, and I think one way we can improve on the number of neglect cases we're seeing with the animals is to talk with the school system and meet with the children, maybe once a month at the individual schools, to teach them about caring for their pets properly," she said.

Roberts says it is against the law to be cruel to animals or to abuse them in any way.

"When we get animals in the shelter that have been neglected, we do our best to get them strong and nourish them back to full health," she said. "Hopefully, they will be adopted, but sometimes the animals are too sick because they've been neglected and have to be put to sleep."

Miranov said the dog is going to need a lot of love, because its so weak and frail. That makes the animal’s resistance to infections low and it could become sick and die.

"We're going to do everything we can to save this dog,” Miranov said. “Shawn has been taking it home so that it doesn't have to stay locked in so much and we're monitoring it closely. There is a constant bowl of food and water in front of the dog at all times to encourage it to eat and drink.”

Roberts says they make every effort not to euthanize the animals.

"We do everything we can to get the animals adopted rather than putting them to sleep," she said. "Our goal is to find all of our animals a place to call home."

Roberts says that St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne has worked extremely well with the animal shelter when it comes to protecting neglected animals.

According to animal cruelty law statue 4-2, "no person shall beat, mutilate, kill, torture, abuse, abandon, or fail to provide obviously necessary veterinary care to an animal. In addition, no animal shall be "chained' as a primary means of stationary confinement.

For more information about the animal shelter, or to report cruelty to an animal anonymously, contact the shelter at 985-783-5010.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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