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Women charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty

April 05, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Two Jefferson County, W.Va., women were charged with 22 counts each of animal cruelty Monday after county officials found dogs at their home whose coats were matted with feces and mud and about five or six dead dogs in plastic trash bags behind the house, according to police and court records.

Bones of dogs also were found in the ground near the dead dogs in bags, although officials are unclear how many dog bodies the bones represented, said Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Vincent Tiong and Bill Polk, Jefferson County's maintenance director and animal control supervisor.

Judith Marcia Greene, 61, and Patricia Langan Mulkerrin, 53, both of 4436 Charles Town Road, Kearneysville, W.Va., were arrested and arraigned on the animal cruelty charges and released on $10,000 bond each, according to court records and jail officials.

Tiong said in a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate Court that he met with Jefferson County Animal Control Officer Mike Shewsberry on March 27 about a case of animal cruelty.

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Shewsberry told Tiong that he was contacted by a person who was traveling past the home where Greene and Mulkerrin live and noticed a dead dog in the front yard, according to the complaint.

The home is a white, single-story home on the south side of W.Va. 9 near the West Virginia University Experiment Farm.

Tiong said he went to the home, spoke to Mulkerrin and told her that he was there to investigate the dead dog and the welfare of other dogs at the house, the complaint states.

Although Mulkerrin gave Shewsberry, Deputy G. Kilmer and Tiong permission to look around the house and check the welfare of dogs in the house, Mulkerrin would not allow officers to enter the house, Tiong said in his complaint.

Mulkerrin said she would bring the dogs outside one at a time, the complaint stated.

About five dogs found at the rear of the house in a fenced-in area did not have food in their bowls and their water was stagnant, Tiong said Tuesday. The dogs' fur was matted with feces and mud, Tiong said.

Two more dogs were found in a field and the animals did not have proper food or water, Tiong said.

Three dogs were found tied to an abandoned building and those animals also did not have adequate food or water, Tiong said.

Mulkerrin told officials there were 22 dogs on the premises and showed officers nine dogs that were inside, Tiong said. Tiong said 21 of the dogs were Schnauzers and one was a St. Bernard.

Tiong spoke with Greene over the phone, and Greene said she was Mulkerrin's landlord and that she lived there with Mulkerrin.

Greene told Tiong that he could enter the home March 28 when she was home, records state.

Kilmer and other animal control officers went in the house on March 28 and Kilmer described the smell in the house as "overwhelming," Tiong's complaint states.

Kilmer observed feces and urine stains on the carpet and noticed that the dogs inside did not have proper food and water, the complaint alleges.

"The inside of the residence did not appear to be livable due to the feces and animal urine," Tiong said in his complaint.

The five or six dead dogs which were found in separate trash bags were in a wooded area behind the house, Tiong said in an interview Tuesday. The bodies of the dogs were starting to decompose, Tiong said.

The bones of dogs included skulls and it appeared the remains had been there about a year, Tiong said.

When questioned about the condition of the dogs, Mulkerrin told Tiong that the dogs were being kept at the home because people did not want them, Tiong said. He said Mulkerrin told him she was "taking care of them the best she could."

Polk, who went into the home with Tiong, agreed that the house was inhabitable.

"It's nasty," Polk said during an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Polk said most of the dogs were taken to the Jefferson County Animal Control office along Leetown Pike. The animals will be kept there until the case involving Mulkerrin and Greene is completed, Polk said.

Polk said some of the dogs are thin and have worn spots on their coats, which appears to be caused from being kept in a cage for an extended period.

Tiong said officials are not sure what will happen to the animals, but people have been calling county officials wishing to provide foster homes for the animals.

Each of the animal cruelty charges carries a possible punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of $300 to $2,000.

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