Judge orders animals removed from property
MOUNTAIN HOME, Arkansas (November 21, 2005) – Baxter County District Judge Van Gearhart ruled today that 327 animals found in filthy conditions at a so-called sanctuary can be relocated and adopted into new homes. Judge Gearhart denied the owners’ request to regain custody of the animals, mostly dogs, and charged William and Tammy Hanson with 27 additional counts of animal cruelty.
Through its volunteer-based Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), United Animal Nations (UAN) has been working with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and local animal rescue organizations since late October to clean up the Every Dog Needs a Home facility in Gamaliel and to care for the animals while authorities investigated the case.
Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery said conditions on the property were “horrific” and he is relieved with the ruling. “For the safety and well being of the animals we must be able to move them out as quickly as possible,” he said. “We are very appreciative of all the volunteers who have cared for the animals in the interim – their help has been tremendous.”
When authorities arrived on the scene last month, they found nearly 500 animals – some rescued from coastal areas after Hurricane Katrina – living in deplorable conditions. On October 21, the Hansons were arrested, charged with one count each of animal cruelty and banned from the property.
EARS National Director Kay Mayfield, who was in the courtroom today, said the ruling is a major victory for the animals and the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to improve their living conditions.
“These animals were living in filth, and their basic needs for food, water and veterinary care had gone unmet for too long,” Mayfield said. “With winter coming, we are so thankful the judge gave the animals’ welfare top priority.”
In addition to providing basic animal care for the past three weeks, nearly 50 UAN volunteers have helped to remove 18 dumpsters of waste and debris, erect new kennels and establish a maternity ward for the many pregnant dogs. Veterinarians treated infections, parasites, ammonia burns, mange, fighting injuries, abscessed wounds and other serious medical conditions.
The court order will take effect in seven days, at which time the HSUS will relocate the animals to shelters throughout the country where they can be made available for adoption. The Hansons’ trial is scheduled to start January 16, 2006.
Founded in 1987, UAN is the nation’s leading provider of emergency animal sheltering and disaster relief services and a key advocate for the critical needs of animals.