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W.Va. woman faces animal cruelty charge

June 13, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Officials investigating an animal cruelty case in a Berkeley Springs residence Thursday found garbage stacked to the ceiling in every room and feces and other debris up to five inches deep on the floors.

Eighteen birds, 12 dogs and 10 cats were taken from the house due to the unsanitary conditions, according to Morgan County Magistrate Court records and a Humane Society official.

Nancy Talbert, 52, who lives in the house with her husband John, was charged with cruelty to animals, according to Magistrate Court records. John Talbert was not charged.

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Tammy Painter, an animal control officer with the Humane Society of Morgan County, said it was difficult to breathe in the house because of the strong smell of urine and garbage inside.

Painter, who went into the house with Morgan County Sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Robbins, said there were between 200 and 500 bags of garbage in the house.

It appears the cats taken from the house were suffering from upper respiratory complications due to being kept inside, said Painter. A dead cat was found in a sunroom where the cats were being kept, said Robbins. The dogs had been fighting among themselves, Painter said.

"It's incredible. There's no way I can describe that house to give it any justice," Painter said.

"We never set foot on the floor, there was so much stuff," she said.

Painter said investigators did not talk to Talbert about why the garbage was in the house.

While Robbins was searching the house, Talbert, 52, allegedly became combative with a Humane Society worker, according to court records. Robbins said he asked Talbert to stay outside and she allegedly returned, pushing her way into the house, court records said.

Talbert was arraigned before Magistrate Bonnie L. Riffle Thursday and was released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond, court officials said.

Cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor. It was unclear what the possible punishment the charge carries.

Talbert could not be reached for comment. No one answered the door at her house along Fairview Road Friday afternoon. High grass and other thick growth surrounded the brick ranch home.

Robbins said officials became aware of the conditions at the house after neighbors complained. Two neighbors who live near the Talberts' home said it's difficult to stay outside sometimes because of the odor from the house, which is across the street from World Class Gym.

Painter would not say where the animals are being kept.

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