Casper Woman Faces 81 Counts of Animal Cruelty, Charges Relating to Hoarding
A Casper woman pleaded not guilty in Municipal Court on Friday to 81 counts related to hoarding 65 animals and dead animals that were taken from her home on Wednesday.
Deanne Gray, who was born in 1948, entered the pleas during her arraignment, according to the charging documents and affidavit
Gray is charged with 64 counts of animal cruelty, one count of not removing animal waste, and 16 counts of not removing deceased animals.
Specifically, the animal cruelty counts under the city's new animal control ordinance refer to the sections about overloading, overworking, and torturing an animal or depriving an animal of necessary sustenance; and failing to provide an animal with sufficient water, food, shelter, veterinary care, and humane care and treatment.
City Attorney John Henley said these are all misdemeanors each punishable by a fine of up to $750. There is no jail punishment.
Gray also must post a $1,500 cash or surety bond by 5 p.m. Friday. One of the conditions of her bond is that she not have any animals, Henley said.
However, there may be a few feral cats that are still around Gray's home in the 1200 block of West 23rd Street, he added.
The case started on July 11 when officer Leah Rakisits with Metro Animal Control responded to the home after receiving a complaint about some dogs living in unsanitary conditions.
About 1 p.m., Rakisits went to the home and tried to contact Gray by knocking on the door and calling her.
After knocking on the front door, she tried to open the screen door, but it was restrained by a large rope that went into the house through a gap in the door.
"Officer Rakisits could smell a very pungent odor of urine and feces," according to her affidavit.
The officer walked to the back yard that was surrounded by an eight-foot-tall plastic fence. She was able to see the back yard through holes in the fence and saw overgrown weeds, bushes and trees.
Rakisits interviewed some neighbors, one of whom said he used to mow Gray's yard, but quit because the smell was so strong. That neighbor also said Gray told him that she "claimed to 'be a breeder'" and that was supposedly her source of income.
On July 12, Gray contacted Rakisits and said she would put a few dogs in her back yard for Metro to pick them up. When the officer asked Gray how many other dogs were in the home, Gray responded that she didn't know and hung up.
When Rakisits went to the house later that day to retrieve the dogs, there was a note on the screen door that said Gray was in the back yard. The officer walked to the back yard where the smell of feces was very strong, identified herself, and several dogs started barking.
The officer saw a homemade kennel attached to the back door of the home and "saw four or five dogs cowering towards the backdoor of the residence."
Rakisits identified herself again, and the dogs started to bark and frantically scratch at the back door. She opened the kennel gate, one dog stepped towards her and when its paw touched the grass it ran inside the gate and huddled at the back door, according to the affidavit. "Officer Rakisits observed the back door was covered in feces from what appeared to be the dogs pawing at the door. The kennel area was also covered in hardened feces that the animals had no choice but walk in."
When she tried to introduce herself to the dogs, two of them raised their lips and bared their teeth, so she did not feel safe approaching the back door to try to talk to Gray.
Rakisits heard at least two more dogs barking from inside the house. She closed the kennel gate and all back yard gates, and walked to the front door.
Gray's car was in the driveway.
Rakisits knocked loudly on the front door and identified herself, but Gray never answered the door. She also called her twice, but Gray didn't answer. Rakisits left the home without the dogs because Gray wasn't available to sign the owner surrender forms.
During the course of her investigation, Rakisits determined the residence had excessive feces in the back yard, leading to health concerns for the public and the dogs' welfare. She also believed there were more than three dogs and three cats at the residence in violation of the city's animal control ordinance.
On Wednesday, she executed a search warrant at the house and was accompanied by other authorities. They searched the house and yard, finding a total of 65 animals.
"A cooler was located on the property that contained several deceased puppies and dogs," according to the affidavit, "The odor inside the home was unbearable that several officers had to vacate the premise to suit up in bio-hazard protective gear to include face masks."