Animal Legal Defense Fund Settles Lawsuit Against Raleigh Animal Hoarder, Rescuing 100+ Dogs

Posted on December 13, 2007

Swift Settlement Protects Severely Neglected Toy Poodles and Birds Seized in October from AKC Champion Breeder

Dog rescued from hoarderRaleigh, N.C.
- The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Wake County,
and a county animal cruelty investigator filed a settlement in Wake
County District Court today against Janie Conyers, 77, of Raleigh, for keeping more than 100 dogs and several birds
in filthy conditions and depriving them of all veterinary care. Terms
of the settlement include Conyers’ relinquishing custody of all
animals, never being allowed to own or work with animals in the future,
and allowing animal control officers to visit her home to make sure she
is in compliance with these terms. As Conyers ran a boarding and
breeding operation, ALDF is evaluating outside claims on ownership to
some of the animals, and some dogs have already been returned to their
rightful owners. Other dogs have been placed with local foster
families.

The animals were seized from the home of the AKC champion breeder on
October 19, when animal control officers, a county cruelty
investigator, and a uniformed police officer responded to a report of
severe cruelty and neglect in what they suspected might be a hoarding
situation. Inside the home they found 106 dogs, primarily toy poodles
and other small breeds, and 9 birds living in horrific conditions. The
sworn testimony of all involved is that the dogs were covered in
excrement, many of the dogs dripping wet with urine. Broken jaws,
severe and extremely painful dental disease, corneal ulcers, cataracts,
and urine/fecal scalding were found in a large number of the animals.
The measured ammonia level in the house was ten times the USDA’s
maximum recommended ammonia level for large swine operations.

Despite the clichéd image of animal hoarders
being simply eccentric old ladies, hoarding–defined as keeping far
more animals than one can care for, and denying the suffering of the
animals–is an extreme form of animal cruelty. In his sworn testimony,
the director of the Wake County Animal Control noted that upon entering
Conyers’ home, he was hit with the stench of ammonia and feces and
immediately saw small dogs everywhere, "too many to count." He was
stunned to see that "[o]ne dog in particular was obviously blind and
could barely stand up. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth, and I
later learned that his jaw had almost disintegrated. He was caged by
himself in the basement, and sat in his cage, shaking. He had some
substance stuck to the underside of his fur; it was evident that he
could not stand up to use the bathroom and had consequently soiled
himself repeatedly." The lawsuit was filed under the state’s Civil
Remedy for Protection for Animals statute (Chapter 19A), a North
Carolina law that allows a private citizen or organization to file suit
to stop animal cruelty.

"We can think of no greater holiday gift than knowing that these
animals will never be returned to the home where they suffered, hidden
away, in unspeakable misery," says ALDF Executive Director Stephen
Wells. "Because the rate of recidivism for animal hoarders is close to
100 percent, the fact that the settlement terms prohibit Janie Conyers
from ever owning another animal is an important safeguard to protect
other animals in the years to come."


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