Shelter owner must post bond

February 22, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The former operator of a canine shelter was ordered Wednesday in Berkeley County Magistrate Court to post a $139,883 bond for the county's care of dozens of dogs that allegedly were victims of animal cruelty last year and removed from the facility.

The order signed by Magistrate Joan V. Bragg and 23rd Judicial Circuit judge David H. Sanders gives Second Chance Rescue Inc. operator Mara Spade until 5 p.m. Feb. 28 to post the bond or Berkeley County Animal Control officers will have the discretion to dispose of 94 of the 149 canines initially seized between May and July 2006.

Fifty dogs have been "relinquished" by Spade and Animal Control, and five others died, officials said in a magistrate court pretrial hearing Wednesday.

"She can't post any additional bonds," said Spade's attorney, Paul G. Taylor, after Bragg denied his motions to suppress search warrants before a jury trial that has yet to be scheduled.


Charged with one count of animal cruelty, Spade, of 386 Gunpowder Lane, Inwood, W.Va., previously posted two, $25,000 bonds for the care of the dogs and to retain the opportunity to regain custody of them.

"The well is dry," Spade said when asked if she would be able to post the $139,883 bond that would cover expenses that have mounted since May 24, 2006, and projected costs through the end of March.

Actual expenses incurred through Feb. 28, 2007, were expected to amount to $114,883, according to the signed court order prepared by Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher C. Quasebarth. Another $25,000 was added to the bond for the animals' care for 30 days beyond the Feb. 28 deadline.

After the hearing, Quasebarth could not say what action the county may take if the bond isn't posted. He indicated that attempts would be made to find new homes for the dogs.

Taylor said after the pretrial hearing that any suggestion that his client was cruel to animals was "ridiculous."

In a June 29, 2006, visit to the Second Chance Rescue shelter off Harlan Springs Road, a Martinsburg-area veterinarian reported seeing numerous dogs exhibiting lameness, poor skin and haircoats, and open wounds in pens that had inadequate ventilation, sanitation, water and food.

"It would be my recommendation to remove dogs from this location," Todd V. Sauble concluded in a statement filed in magistrate court.

In a July 2006 hearing, Bragg found probable cause that the dogs seized were not receiving proper care and ordered Spade to pay a $25,000 bond to cover the cost of caring for the animals over a 30-day period.

Since Bragg's ruling July 19, the case was appealed to circuit court and then to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

In a 3-2 decision in November, the state's high court refused to prevent the enforcement of the lower court orders that Spade post the bond for the dogs' care.

Know more in 30 seconds

The issue: Mara Spade, the former operator of Second Chance Rescue, a canine shelter in Berkeley County, was charged last summer with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, and 149 dogs were placed in the custody of the county's Animal Control division.

What's new: Bills to care for the dogs have topped $100,000, and Spade she has no money to retain the opportunity to have them returned to her.

What's next: A jury trial is expected to be scheduled to hear Spade's case.

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