When more than 30 animals were rescued from a hoarding situation in Swedeborg, the Pulaski County Humane Society (PCHS) was called upon to handle an event they weren't ready for, but with the help of the community they took 29 living dogs and five cats into their care.

The trial for Deborah Peters, 59, of Swedeborg, is scheduled for JFebruary 6 in Phelps County, according to Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman. The Daily Guide emailed Hillman recently to request an update on the case. The case has been moved to Phelps County on a change of venue.

Thirty charges a piece had been filed against three individuals for animal abuse. PCHS told the Daily Guide at the time the story broke that the conditions the animals were living were "filthy" and that they had been abandoned with no access to food or water. Several of them were emaciated, dehydrated, and suffering from varying medical issues.

 

According to Kristine Stone, PCHS vice president, whom the Daily Guide interviewed at the time the rescue happened, volunteers discovered multiple deceased animals inside the home, upon entering including a dog in a crate with a tag that read Bailey, rabbits, and turtles. One dog died over night after being rescued.

Stone described the conditions the outside animals were living in as "terrible." She said the nine or ten dogs chained up outside were wrapped around things and the chains were so short that some could only move a foot in any direction.

Inside the home, animals were starving and dehydrated, Stone reported, describing dogs drinking until they vomited, in some cases.

Hillman told the Daily Guide that Michelle Peters, Deborah's daughter, pleaded guilty to four counts of class A misdemeanor Animal Abuse and was sentenced to one year for each count in the Pulaski County Jail at the end of November of this year.

"Her sentences were suspended and she was placed on two years reporting probation.  She was ordered to serve 15 days of shock jail time, complete 80 hours of community service, pay restitution in the amount of $2400.00 and not own any animals during the term of her probation," Hillman said.

Hillman also reported that Anthony Sisto's charges had been dismissed due to a cooperation agreement he made with the Prosecutor's Office and "he remains a cooperative witness."

This is not the first time Deborah Peters has faced charges for Animal Abuse. She had previously pleaded guilty to the same charges in Morgan County and was on probation for those charges when the Swedeborg case happened.

The Daily Guide has requested that Hillman inform us of any changes and the outcome in the case.

The Swedeborg rescues became one of the biggest news stories in Pulaski County of 2017 and energized the county's small, completely volunteer, donation supported PCHS. Needless to say PCHS was not prepared for such a large scale rescue and had to call upon the community to help them help the animals.

Kim Fuhr, animal welfare coordinator, PCHS board member, and former president of the organization told the Daily Guide at one point after the event that their request for an off-brand flea prevention treatment available at Wal-Mart caused it to sell out.

PCHS said at their recent year-end meeting that the community supported the rescue effort of the Swedeborg animals in a big way and really helped the organization. Donations came in that covered the vet expenses and new individuals stepped up and became foster families for the rescued animals.

All of the Swedeborg rescues now have homes and are doing well. The Daily Guide caught up with Fuhr Thursday afternoon via text message and email to get an update on some of them.

"Every single one of the animals that we saved are happy and healthy today," Fuhr said. "The ones from Swedeborg were in imminent danger and near death because of being trapped and unable to eat or drink, but once they survived the trauma they are okay now."

At PCHS's end of year meeting, the organization discussed the Swedeborg rescues and the way in which the community overwhelmingly supported their efforts and some of the positive effects Swedeborg had for the organization.

The organization pointed to the media coverage as raising awareness about their organization in the public's mind and the Swedeborg situation helping to bring new foster families and volunteers into the organization.

For an organization that depends almost soley on donations, their vet bill was $20,444.17 this fiscal year and their total expenses were $57,021.76, according to their expense report for the year. The organization said they were grateful for the public's help and support for the 338 animals in their care in fiscal 2017.

PCHS reported that 321 of those animals were adopted out this year, as well. Unfortunately, the number of animals coming into care never stops and Fuhr reported that the organization currently has 87 animals in its care, including three litters of newborn puppies.

"It continually changes and with this cold weather people are more aware of strays and dumped animals so the number of calls has increased greatly," Fuhr said of the number of animals in PCHS care.

Fuhr said the organization currently has 87 animals in its care and is in need of foster homes and volunteers to help out at its shelter, Loving Paws Adoption Center, in Crocker. The shelter only has space for a limited number of animals, no where near able to meet the demand, according to Fuhr, so the organization is always in need of foster homes.

The shelter could use volunteers to come in and help feed, water, walk, and socialize the animals, especially on Saturdays, Fuhr said.

"One of our biggest needs is volunteering at Loving Paws. We really need people on Saturdays and any morning or late afternoon right before closing to help walk and give the animals attention," Fuhr said. "We are also always looking for responsible, dependable folks to do an occasional Sunday or Monday when we are closed and the animals still need care."

The Swedeborg rescues have not been the only hoarding situation PCHS has had to take on and likely won't be the last one, but it was the one that really touched the community and the volunteers that make up PCHS.