Santa Barbara authorities decided not to prosecute a Lompoc woman who had filled her home with 104 Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes.
“After we concluded our investigation, our recommendation to the District Attorney was not to press any charges,” said Angela Walters Yates, director of the county’s Animal Services Department. “The bottom line is that this started as a Good Samaritan trying to help animals, but it ended up clearly out of control.” The woman’s identity has not been released.
A concerned citizen notified officials last October of what appeared to be a case of animal hoarding, but upon entering the property and assessing the animals, Animal Control officers found no clear evidence of wrongdoing.
“The resident cooperated fully with our staff and surrendered the dogs,” Yates explained. “All of the dogs were in good physical condition, and there were no signs of neglect or abuse. The resident was in violation of the number of animals allowed without a kennel permit, but we did not recommend pursuing this.”
It took a team of 18 veterinarians, support staff, and volunteers more than 12 hours to inspect, register, and arrange for transportation of the dogs to shelters throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Burbank.
Yates said officers will continue following up with the woman to ensure she doesn’t repeat her behavior. “But our recommendation is counseling and support,” she said, “rather than criminal charges.”
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