ADRIAN, Mich. (13abc Action News) - Hundreds of animals were seized from a home along Shepherd Road in Onsted, Michigan.That includes more than 200 dogs, 32 horses along with five cats and two peacocks.
Those animals are now being cared for by a number of different shelters. The Lenawee Humane Society took in more than 100 of the animals. While it is a monumental undertaking, shelter leaders say some good has come out of this difficult situation.
The suspect in the case, Sharon Kay Evans, missed a payment of $150,000 to keep the animals from being sold or adopted, according to court records. Now, the Lenawee County Humane Society is tasked with caring for most of the animals and handling their adoptions. The horses and donkey were transported to Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary.
The Lenawee County Sheriff's Office has released body cam video of the conditions the animals were found living in. Those who have spent years helping animals in need say it was tough to see.
Marcie Cornell is the Executive Director of the Lenawee Humane Society,"I've never seen anything like this, never."
It was the same response from the Sheriff's Office. Troy Bevier is the Undersheriff, "Have you ever seen anything like this? Not to this magnitude, no."
Bevier says the animals were living in poor conditions and the extreme cold made the situation life-threatening, "Our number one priority was to remove the animals so that none of them were in jeopardy."
The Sheriff's Office says 53-year-old Evans was running a kennel and did have a valid kennel license allowing her to have up to 75 dogs. Bevier says the sheriff's office had been called to the property in the past after allegations were made regarding the lack of care given to the animals, but those claims could not be substantiated.
The office received another complaint in late December and the Sheriff's Office immediately opened another investigation.Cornell says the animals were moved from the property on two separate occasions. Some animals were taken from the property December 30th and the rest January 3rd.
Bevier says Evans is charged with felony animal abandoning/cruelty, "There will be hearings like any other case. This is a felony and she is facing up to four years in prison, it's a serious case."
Getting the animals off the property was a massive undertaking.
Bevier says the Lenawee County Sheriff's Office Mounted Patrol helped place the horses. A number of other shelters took in the other animals. Cornell says a newly created coalition including shelters in Lenawee, Monroe, Jackson and Branch counties came together to help the animals, "We had just formed in November and we had only had one meeting. Yes we had plans in place, but until you see them come to fruition you don't know if they will work. It did work in this case. In fact it worked like a well-oiled machine. We came back to the shelter, and it was like an assembly line of people weighing the animals, assessing them and vaccinating. I know it was the same situation at the other shelters too."
The Lenawee Humane Society took in so many dogs and cats from the seizure that the shelter has temporarily suspended some of its regular operations. Taking care of the animals is an around-the-clock job, "Many of them animals were painfully matted. Some had to have feces chiseled from their nails so that we could even see their nails to cut them."
Bevier says the cost of caring for the animals is being covered by the Sheriff's Office while the case moves through the court system.
The shelters rely on donations, so anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. The animals are not up for adoption now. If they are put up for adoption, it will not be until the court proceedings are finished.
Cornell says while the coalition was set up for cases like this, the goal is to make sure something like this doesn't happen again, "What I hope is that we have a stronger community, one that says we are not going to put up with this, ever."
Undersheriff Bevier says Evans is due in court Thursday morning, and she's also scheduled to be back in court next week for a preliminary exam.
The Lenawee County Humane Society posted the following on its website, "We're celebrating today! The seized animals have officially been forfeited!
These babies have had a rough start so there is still a long way to go, including heartworm checks, dentals, spay/neuters, and more.
We're continuing to conduct interviews and meet-and-greets with pre-approved adopters in order to make the adoption process as stress free as possible for these dogs, cats, and our staff. Thank you for helping us save them! Their next stop will be their forever homes, where they will be spoiled, cherished and loved every single day of the rest of their lives.
Please consider a monetary donation to help us cover the medical costs of Wendy, pictured above, and the rest of her friends here. Thank you for your life-saving support.
(Wendy has stolen the hearts of an amazing family already. Stay tuned for the rest of her story, including her new name and her "forever picture")."
Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary posted the following on its Facebook page: "WE NEED YOU!!!
It is official, the Lenawee 31 horses and 1 donkey are coming to Starry Skies! This is part of a large scale seizure in Lenawee County Michigan that involved a large amount of dogs and horses. We are working on transport as we speak. There are 4 stallions, 2 mares with foals and many more young maiden mares getting ready to foal. As the forfeiture is complete, we will not be receiving any compensation for intaking or the continued care of these horses.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
*****Monetary donations for hay, grain, supplies, vet etc.
There is a donate button on our facebook page which will link to our website and paypal portal.
******Supplies--we have an amazon wishlist and hay, grain and shavings donations are welcome at the barn.
You are welcome to send donations as well to us at 8133 W Liberty Rd, Ann Arbor MI 48103
+++++Volunteer----we are going to be having a lot of babies and the special needs and attention that come with them."
Donations can be made to either organization by clicking the "Donate" links on this page.