Nancy Rose Bertoia, 34, was sentenced to prison for between 13 months and four years for “killing and torturing animals,” a felony, as well as a concurrent sentence of 93 days in jail for animal cruelty, a misdemeanor.

When police went to the house at 2933 Sixth Street in Muskeegon on March8 after being called by the property manager, a horrendous site greeted them! Muskegon Heights Patrol Officer Royce Rodgers said he went to the home Thursday afternoon, and “the first thing I saw was this horribly emaciated Doberman,” he said. The adult male Doberman pinscher was on a locked, enclosed porch.

“The windows were broken and there was no food or water,” Rodgers said. “It was freezing cold in there.”

The dog had chewed a 1-foot-diameter hole in the wooden door trying to get into the home, the police report said. There also was blood on the doorknob that appeared to be from the dog’s mouth.

The dog’s bones showed on its back, ribs and hindquarters and the animal had pus in its eyes. It had been sleeping on a pile of toys in a plastic tote box, Rodgers said. Everything else was covered with feces.

But an even worse sight greeted police and animal control officers as they entered the home, where the stench was overwhelming.

“Immediately, we saw the dogs on the couch,” Rodgers said.

He was referring to a dead male Doberman on the couch, and a “very frail” adult female Doberman lying next to it. The female “had a hard time just getting off the low couch,” he wrote.

Nearby was a brown puppy, also very skinny, and in a bedroom, they found a black puppy on a bed that was unable to even hold its head up.

While Rodgers was there, the female Doberman “came into the bedroom and crawled up next to the (black) puppy. The puppy tried to feed off the female, but she was too dehydrated,” his report said.

An animal rescue official said Monday that the black puppy has since died.

Rodgers said he then saw a monkey sitting in a cage on the floor. “It was in bad shape,” he said. The animal was shaking, sitting in its own feces. “It was a horrible scene,” he said.

In fact, feces and trash covered the basement, the main floor and the second floor, the police report said. There was no sign of food or water anywhere, Rodgers said.

A dead puppy was found under a bed and a dead cat was found in a cardboard box on the front porch covered by a bag of trash, he said. (

Bertoia claimed that the left the house on February 26 after a pipe burst but had been returning to feed and water the animals but considering the condition they were in this obviously was not the case.

The state prison sentence was substantially tougher than state sentencing guidelines, which called for a sentence of between zero and three months in county jail on the felony count. Graves cited two factors for exceeding the guidelines: the large number of animals which suffered, and “the degree of cruelty.”

Bertoia initially was charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, after police and animal control officers found the “horribly emaciated” animals in the home Bertoia had been renting. The property manager had called the police to report the foul conditions.


The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office later added the felony charge of killing or torturing animals, based on the unusual facts of the case. Assistant Prosecutor Marc Curtis also argued for an above-guideline sentence in court Monday, citing the same two factors the judge did.

Authorities said the condition of the animals and the house indicated no one had attempted to feed or provide water to the animals for weeks… (Muskegon Chronicle)

“The facts show this case was not just negligence-based,” Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague said, “but rather was a willful, malicious course of conduct that led to the death of animals and unconscionable suffering by other animals at her residence.”

Neighbors did not see any animals outside the home “for an extremely lengthy period of time,” Tague said. She did not just abandon the home, the prosecutor said, but rather indicated she had been back to the house, “and therefore would have been aware of what was occurring.”

A vet, examining the animals after they were rescued, said they were approximately 50% of their normal weight. During the sentencing the judge basically cited depraved indifference… or to quote, “prolonged, callous indifference.”

And almost even scarier, this woman also has four children!

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