One of the surviving abandoned dogs in TahlequahDog and cats abandoned at a Tahequah property after the owner just up and left… one to two months ago!

The exact number of animals has not been verified but it’s somewhere between 10 and 20. There were actually some animals, dog and cats, found alive inside the abandoned residence.

An abandoned residence in Hilltop Addition has become a virtual charnel house, after several dogs and cats were left to starve inside the building.

Between one and two months ago, the owners of the property abandoned the house and an estimated 10 to 20 dogs and cats on the property without any source of food or water, neighbors and law enforcement officers have said.

Cherokee County Sheriff’s Investigator Nate King was one of the law enforcement officials called to the scene after the initial complaint.

“There were eight living animals, three deceased canines and two deceased felines,” said King. “Most of them were trapped inside the house. Everything that survived was inside; everything that was outside was deceased already.

“Apparently, these dogs were abandoned without food or water for at least a month before the sheriff’s office was notified. To be honest, the smell was so overwhelming that I couldn’t stay inside.”

At press time, the exact number of animals — deceased or living — had not been determined.

Charlie Dry, who lives next door to the property, said he’s been complaining about the owners and their dogs for several years.

“In August of 2004, I started complaining about this guy’s dogs,” said Dry. “The Housing Authority [of the Cherokee Nation] said it was Title VI, and they couldn’t do anything about it.”
Dry alleges he kept complaining about the animals, but received little help from HACN.

“I showed photos to David Southerland [HACN executive director], but he said there was nothing he could do about it,” said Dry. “There were 15 dogs in the yard and five in the house. They had all this time to go out and see, but they never did anything about it.”

In 2006, Dry said, HACN told him to talk to Sheriff Norman Fisher about the Housing Authority covenant.

“He said, ‘I don’t know anything about it; you’ll have to talk to the Housing Authority,” Dry recalled. “I complained, but nobody would touch this guy [the owner of the dogs].”

Southerland said the agency responded when it received word of the abandoned house and dogs.

“On the [Nov.] 15th, when we discovered a problem with the dogs, some of our staff and the sheriff’s office went out to the property,” said Southerland. “We got a verbal order from the judge to go in and remove the dogs and board up the house, which we did.”

According to Southerland, HACN had received previous complaints about dogs running loose, but officials were never able to find anything upon investigation.

After receiving the most recent complaints, however, representatives of the HACN and the sheriff’s office visited the property to investigate.

“The house was abandoned and there were dogs still there,” said Southerland. “Mainly, that was the complaint.”

In a document filed Nov. 19, 2007, the HACN filed a petition in Cherokee County District Court, to take foreclosure action on a mortgage the agency holds on the house.

“We still don’t own the house; we still have ongoing foreclosure action and until then, there’s not a lot we can do about it,” Southerland said. “From what I understand, the sheriff’s office is working with the local ASPCA [Humane Society of Cherokee County], feeding and finding homes for the dogs, and I believe some are still on the property.”

According to King, the responding officer in the case will file a report with the district attorney’s office, and the case is to be investigated further.

The Press also spoke with Kristin DeJournett, caseworker with national animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

DeJournett confirmed that the organization has been in contact with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, and plans to keep abreast of further developments in the case.

King also confirmed some of the dogs were impounded on site, and the HSCC is assisting with care of the animals.

For King, the extent of the animals’ suffering came as a shock.

“It was gruesome,” King said. “It’s the worst case of animal cruelty I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in law enforcement since ’99.” (Tahlequah Daily Press)

I just don’t understand how an atrocity like this could be allowed to happen especially when a concerned citizen goes out of his way time and again to bring attention to it! What would be so hard about just listening and actually putting forth the effort to investigate?

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