Canine “CSI” Crucial in Charging Chihuahua Hoarder

Posted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF's Director of Communications on September 3, 2009

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced today that Dearborn, Michigan dog hoarder Kenneth Lang Jr is being charged with two counts of cruelty to 10 or more animals, after more than 100 live and approximately 150 dead Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes were removed from the filthy home this past July. The Animal Legal Defense Fund provided a grant of $3500 to allow the Dearborn Police Department to conduct necropsies on 10 of the Chihuahuas whose bodies were removed from freezers on 56-year-old Lang’s property. ALDF offers grants for necropsies, DNA testing, and other forensic support nationwide to ensure that local law enforcement is able to collect the necessary evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in cases of criminal animal abuse.

Once relegated only to primetime dramas, sophisticated forensic techniques are increasingly being used to help prosecutors put together airtight cases against animal abusers. However, because such tests can be prohibitively expensive, abusers often walk free–even when the appearance of guilt seems obvious. Meanwhile, former prosecutors who now staff ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program train law enforcement around the country in animal abuse crime scene investigation, the use of cell phone data and fingerprint analysis in abuse cases, and in handling costly hoarding cases like the Lang case. In addition to the horrific animal cruelty involved, hoarding creates such highly unsanitary conditions that the properties of hoarders, contaminated with fecal matter and urine, are often condemned. In this case, Dearborn paid more than $37,000 to clean up Lang’s home, which has been deemed unfit for human habitation and might be demolished.

“Establishing cause of death is key in any fatal animal cruelty case,” says Scott Heiser, director of ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program. “We are more than happy to help the Dearborn Police Department with this critical part of their casework, as they seek justice for the hundreds of Chihuahuas who suffered so much–and the suffering of dogs who die of starvation and untreated disease in hoarding cases is truly horrific. By providing direct funding for forensic investigation of crimes against animals, we hope to ensure that attorneys have the evidence they need to put abusers in jail–while the surviving victims are allowed to heal from their trauma.”