'Animal hoarder' gets 60-day jail sentence

NORWALK A New London woman accused of hoarding dozens of dead and starving animals is going to jail.
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

NORWALK

A New London woman accused of hoarding dozens of dead and starving animals is going to jail.

Donna Dennis, 41, of the1000 block of Ohio 60 changed her not guilty plea on animalcruelty charges to a no contest plea Tuesday morning in Norwalk Municipal Court.

She was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years probation.

By entering a no contest plea, two of the four animal cruelty charges Dennis faced were dropped.

Judge John Ridge also ordered Dennis to abstain from owning any animals for five years. He said she could not live in any home that contains an animal during the same time frame.

Norwalk assistant law director T. Douglas Clifford said he was pleased with the outcome.

"I am glad she won't be having any contact with animals ... because it is our goal to protect the animals of Huron County," Clifford said.

The animal cruelty charges arose from an investigation the Huron County Humane Society conducted with help from the Huron County Dog Warden's office.

Investigators searched her New London residence after receiving a tip.

The scene inside Dennis' home was horrifying to animal investigators. They reported seeing an entire room full of dead and starving birds, at least a handful of underfed cats, and some hamsters and turtles. Dead animals littered the property.

More than 40 dogs living outside her New London home were not much better off. They were not given sufficient shelter, bedding or food.

One of the dogs taken in by the Humane Society had flaky skin and callouses on his rear end and legs from not having a cushy place to lie down. He was at least 20 pounds underweight.

But at least his teeth hadn't rotted, as one yellow Lab's had. That dog had to be euthanized.

Humane Society investigations officer Karla Williams said Dennis shows many of the signs of an animal hoarder -- someone who keeps a large number of animals without having the resources to care for them.

"It's just a compassion for animals that gets out of hand," Williams said.