Animal cruelty charges filed against woman 'in over her head'
Good intentions can lead to bad things.
Huron County Dog Warden Bill Duncan believes they did in the case of Donna Dennis.
The 41-year-old New London resident faces four counts of animal cruelty, all second-degree misdemeanors, for animal neglect. A joint investigation by the Huron County Dog Warden and the Huron County Humane Society found about 70 starving or dead birds, cats and dogs on her property.
But Duncan said Dennis, 1000 block of Ohio 60, thought she was doing a good thing in taking in so many animals.
"I think it is more that she just got in over her head and she got in so deep so fast that it wasn't easy to back out of," Duncan said. "That type of person is commonly referred to as a 'hoarder.' ... They believe they are doing what is best for the animals because they are better off in those situations than they are being euthanized or running loose. It's kind of a skewed perception of reality."
Both animal agencies learned of the living conditions of the animals after someone made a complaint Feb. 19.
The person who made the complaint said there were dead animals on the property.
The warrant, which was used to search the property Feb. 20, said there were dogs confined to cages too small and animal feces and carcasses of animals inside the residence. The warrant also said that there were carcasses that looked as though they had "been eaten by other cats." The warrant also said there were "piles of dead animals" between the barn and field, dead dogs under tarps and in the outside dumpsters, dozens of dead birds, and about 15 dogs outside that looked underfed.
Duncan was familiar with Dennis from previous encounters. He said he watched as her number of animal companions jumped in size as time wore on. Until recently, she never did anything that constituted a crime, he said.
"We were there when there was 40 (about this time last year), but the conditions were good," Duncan said. "The difference between then and now is the difference in the way the animals were kept."
The criminal charges facing Dennis stem from "food, water and shelter" issues, said Ken Stewart, operations manager for the Huron County Humane Society, who calls this case the worst he's seen.
The Humane Society has accepted four of the most malnourished dogs from the Dennis residence. They are in the process of taking in the rest of the animals.
"It's put a little crimp on the capacity on the Humane Society," Stewart said.