An Oregon hoarding case, which has all but forgotten since the animals were seized back in January 2013, is set to go to trial May 20.
Code enforcement officers tried to work with the rescue, but received no cooperation from the rescue. The rescue also didn’t want to work with the Oregon Humane Society.
.It took a few months from the time complaints began coming in, but eventually, the rescue was raided that January. Dogs were found living in cramped quarters, living in urine and feces, sick and emaciated.
Organization president, 24-year-old Alicia Marie Inglish, was charged with 120 counts of animal neglect, as well as tampering with evidence in the investigation, according to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Merissa Noonan, 21, of Woodburn, was arrested and charged with 149 counts of animal neglect. Amanda Noelle Oakley was also charged with 149 counts of animal neglect and lodged at the Marion County jail.
Oakley served as the secretary and board member for the facility until her resignation on January 10, three days before police served a search warrant of the facility.
The Facebook page Willamette Valley Animal Rescue had up in early 2013 showed unwanted dogs, now rescued and adopted into loving homes. The rescue described itself as “a no-kill soon to be official non-profit (501c3) animal rescue specializing in placing the unadoptable and the unwanted.
According to a January 16, 2013, report by KATU News, the Oregon Humane Society rescued the majority of the dogs. The Marion County Dog Services rescued more than two dozen others. Several dogs died after being rescued.
An investigation by KATU News learned nearly all of the dogs at Inglish’s rescue came from an animal shelter 600 miles away in Porterville, California, which is run by that city’s police department.
Porterville Police Administrative Sgt. Dominic Barteau didn’t exactly know how many times Willamette Animal Rescue came down to the Porterville Animal Shelter or how many dogs were taken. He did say that most times at least 10 dogs would be pulled at one time.
Did the Porterville Police Department do any kind of investigation on Willamett Valley Animal Rescue? Apparently, they did, at the beginning. It was learned later that Inglish was rescuing the dogs on someone else’s nonprofit status. Barteau stated in an interview with KATU News
“There was evidence unveiled that the shelter up there in Oregon was falsely using – fraudulently using another person’s tax ID.”
Inglish was indicted by a Marion County grand jury for three counts of identity theft, which KATU confirmed in connected to the animal neglect case. The Marion County District Attorney’s office say these charges aren’t related to the interstate transfer of dogs.
What followed after the transfer of so many dogs is common. Even though the rescue started out intending to do good, things went downhill. The rescue was overwhelmed, trying to save more animals than they can adequately care for. This is a classic case of animal hoarding.
At the time of rescue, Dr. Kriss Otteman, Oregon Humane Society Veterinarian, worked with other authorities and volunteers through the night to assess the dogs and determine what would be needed to save each dog. Otterman stated
“The condition of these animals is terrible. They are lacking the basic care needed to survive. I found no food available to them and the water in their cages was filled with stench. I saw one animal stuffed into a cage that was so small he was unable to lie down, sit or stand up. He had no food or water in the cage, and I’m not sure how long he’d been left in that condition. I saw another cage that contained four dogs; it was designed for one. These dogs need immediate medical care.”
Now the case is set to go to trial beginning May 20. A lot of people have forgotten about this case. That’s sad because it’s really up to each individual community to expose bad rescues and shelters.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, and people move on to the next big case they read about. Information to contact the District Attorney’s office can be found by clicking here.
The case, originally scheduled to go to trial in Oregon in August 2014, then was pushed back again until January 2015 and once again until May 20.
In June 2014, Noonan pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree animal neglect and was sentenced to five years of probation. Two years after the trio was arrested, she is the only one to have been convicted. This is the fourth time the trial has been postponed, according to court records.
We need to keep the pressure on the Marion County District Attorney’s office to be sure justice is served, we also need this case to serve as a reminder that the Marion County, Oregon is only one case among many where a rescue isn’t really a rescue.
Now, animal abusers can be charged with felony animal cruelty, and face a maximum of five years in prison, a $125,000 fine, or both. Animal neglect in the first degree is defined as neglect involving 10 or more animals, repeat animal neglect offenders and animal neglect that happens in front of a child.
These women are of course innocent until proven guilty, but they should be held accountable for what they’ve done. An update will be posted in the near future if any of this information is incorrect.
An advocate for the dogs is set to meet with the Marion County District Attorney on May 14. The main trial is set for May 20.
Your comments are welcome, including any information missed in this case.