ATLANTA - Nearly all of the dogs seized from a Hillman-area woman who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty have been adopted, with the rest expected to be claimed today.
The dogs have been "flying out" of Elk Country Animal Shelter, Director Pauline Hancock said. Of the 37 animals taken to the shelter, only seven dachshunds remain.
"I anticipate several more getting spoken for by (today) and possibly leaving," she said. "It's been pretty exciting around here."
The dogs were seized from Jennifer Elen Tucker-Richard in January by Montmorency County sheriff's deputies, according to a press release from the department. Six horses also were seized and are now in the care of Second Chance Ranch and Rescue in Boyne City. All the animals were lacking basic care, and many of the dogs were located outside with no proper shelter, food or drinkable water.
In February, Tucker-Richard pleaded guilty to two felony charges, one of abandoning or cruelty to 10 or more animals, another of killing or torturing animals. She could spend as long as four years in prison, pay a hefty fine or do community service, and likely willv be ordered not to own another animal when she's sentenced on April 22.
When the dogs arrived at the shelter they were all infested with parasites, Hancock said. Many had skin conditions, including scabs, sores and patches of missing hair. Others had a painful eye affliction known as "cherry eye." One had to have surgery to remove several large bladder stones.
So shelter volunteers set to bathing the animals and getting them plenty of food, Hancock said.
"In two weeks' time, looking back at different pictures we could see a night-and-day difference in some of the dogs we had," she said. "We can see it even more now, they're all healthy and happy, no scabs, their hair has grown back, and they're all spayed and neutered. They have all their shots now, and they're micro-chipped."
A few huskies that were seized from Tucker-Richard's home have been given back to their owner, Hancock said. The dogs were being boarded at the house, and were owned by a Minnesota woman. They were spayed and neutered with the owner's permission, and returned to her after being released by the court.
Hancock is grateful for all the community support, she said. People donated food, money and supplies to help nurse the dogs back to health.
"It helped tremendously, it sped up their recovery," she said.