A woman keeping more than 200 dogs, 32 horses, five cats and two peacocks was arrested this week on animal cruelty charges in southern Michigan, the Lenawee County Sheriff's Office reports.
Sharon Kay Evans, 53, was allegedly keeping the animals in "extremely poor" and life-threatening conditions on rural farm property on the 8800 block of Shepherd Road, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. Investigators searched the property Wednesday and found that some of the animals were kept outside "in little cages throughout the yard," horses were in an unheated barn with their water frozen and "kind of feces everywhere," Undersheriff Troy Bevier said.
"Because of the frigid temperatures and the fact that they didn't have water there — I believe that the pipes all froze ... it made it critical," he said, adding that the windchill that day was about 5 degrees below zero.
Evans faces charges of animal abandoning/cruelty to 10 or more animals, a four-year felony, according to the news release. She turned herself in to investigators Thursday and was released on a personal-recognizance bond and ordered not to possess animals.
Evans was running a kennel and had a valid license allowing up to 75 dogs, and an animal-control officer had been to the property in June for a kennel inspection, according to the news release. Bevier said Evans had a person who would visit daily to help her care for the animals.
The weather this week — with unseasonably cold temperatures across Michigan — was key in the decision to act, he said.
"Six months ago, if there would have been a pen outside with puppies in it, nobody would have thought anything of that," he said. "Now, they're in life-threatening situations."
He also said that none of the animals has died, and some puppies have been born since the removal — which included help from Lenawee Humane Society, Monroe County Humane Society and other agencies and organizations.
Among the breeds of dogs removed were huskies, Labradors, red heelers, malty-poos, Dobermen, Malteses, Shih-tzus, Pomeranians, Corgies, highland terriers, golden retrievers, Yorkshire terriers and Australian shepherds, Bevier said.
Other allegations had been made regarding Evans' care of the animals, but "nothing could be substantiated and Evans did not cooperate," according to the news release.
"Law enforcement personnel had also (previously) been to Evans' residence for barking dogs, loose donkeys, and civil matters as well as a complaint from Evans that kennels had been stolen," the news release reported.
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