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Arrest warrants issued in animal cruelty charge

August 13, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A woman charged with keeping 31 exotic animals in a trailer with no food or water failed to appear in court Thursday, causing a magistrate to issue an arrest warrant and turn custody of the animals over to Berkeley County Animal Control.

Angela Christine Acampora, 25, did not show up for a preliminary hearing in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on one charge of animal cruelty and two unrelated charges of writing worthless checks.

About 30 minutes after the hearing was scheduled to begin, Magistrate Joan Bragg issued a capias order for Acampora's arrest. Bragg also granted a request by Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Henline that legal custody of the animals be transferred to the county, allowing for the animals to be adopted.

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Several of the animals seized from a trailer in Falling Waters, W.Va., on May 18 have since died, said Animal Control Officer Donna McMahan.

Animals that died included several fish, two sea urchins, two sea anemones, two hermit crabs, a lizard, a tree frog and an emperor scorpion.

"It's surprising that we didn't lose more than we did," Animal Control officer Erin Webber said. Webber said she was especially surprised an albino hedgehog, which was in poor shape and covered with yellow spots, lived.

Other animals that survived included ferrets, cockatiels, a boa constrictor, an alligator gar and several different species of fish and lizards.

The surviving animals are being cared for in a local pet store.

A snakehead fish, which is a threat to ecosystems, was killed by Animal Control officers.

In addition to the first charge of animal cruelty, arrest warrants charging Acampora with 30 additional counts of animal cruelty have been issued - one for each animal.

Animal Control officers first received a phone call from Acampora's husband's employer, who said several exotic animals were inside the mobile home without food and water, court records state.

McMahan and Animal Control Chief Brad Sheppard went to the home on Postal Drive on May 14 and were able to see several neglected animals by peering into a window.

Four days later, officers returned to see if anyone had taken care of the animals. A neighbor said nobody had been to the trailer since the beginning of May, records state.

A search warrant was issued that day and officers returned to find that none of the animals had food or water to drink, records state.

Acampora called Animal Control a day later, asking why the animals had been taken, records state. She said she was in Florida for a "legal emergency" and that she had only been gone for a week. She said a friend was to take care of the animals in her absence, records say.

An Animal Control officer responded that the animals had been neglected for more than a week, records state.

On Thursday, Acampora's bail bondsman appeared in court and said Acampora did not receive a summons to appear in court. He said she plans to come to court today.

Conviction of a charge of animal cruelty carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $100 to $1,000.

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