Dogs seized from Elk Grove animal rescue group now available for adoption through Bradshaw Animal Shelter
Elk Grove Animal Services has seized 58 dogs from a rescue group that it said left the animals without proper care for 48 hours.
The dogs – among them nursing mothers and litters of newborn puppies – had also been without adequate food or water for about 24 hours when they were removed late last month, said Elk Grove Animal Services manager Sarah Humlie. Several puppies at the site tested positive for parvovirus, a potentially deadly disease, Humlie said.
“The conditions of the barn when (Animal Services) first arrived, it’s very, very obvious that a thorough cleaning and sanitation had not happened in several days,” Humlie said, adding the size of the seizure was unusually large for the city.
All of the surviving dogs are adoptable and are staying at Sacramento County’s Bradshaw Animal Shelter or at foster homes, though a few puppies that are still too young and nursing are not yet available for adoption, Humlie said.
The dogs were seized from Elk Grove Animal Rescue on Feb. 21. The group, which also operates under the names Davis Rescue and Rehabilitation and Davis Animal Rescue, moved into the barn on the private property of an Elk Grove resident in December. According to a Facebook page description, the group serves with “an emphasis in rescue from high kill shelters in the northern California area.”
Krista Mitchell, the owner of the rescue, did not apply for or receive a business license in Elk Grove until Feb. 21, according to city records, the same day of the seizure. Mitchell has never possessed a business license in Davis, according to a representative from the city’s finance department.
Neither Mitchell nor a representative from Elk Grove Animal Rescue could be reached for comment.
Care for animals began to deteriorate after Mitchell was served a temporary restraining order by her landlord, according to testimony by an Elk Grove Animal Services officer given as part of a department administrative hearing. Mitchell had failed to pay rent and did not clean up after her dogs, according to the Feb. 13 restraint request filed by the landlord, Dayle Ann Imperato.
After Mitchell was served with the order, she was barred from entering the property, but other volunteers were able to continue to care for animals in the barn, according to the Animal Services report.
However, when Animal Services workers entered the barn Feb. 21, it had a strong odor of urine and feces, dogs of both sexes and various ages were not separated, and the animals had gone without food or water for 24 hours, the department’s report stated.
“The dogs immediately rushed to the water bowls and drank excessively for approximately two minutes,” the report said. “They observed a large Pit Bull dog inside a plastic crate that was not large enough for the for the dog to turn around in, its head was crouched inside, and it was unable to extend its tail.”
Puppies discovered appeared sick and dehydrated, according to the report. At least one died before receiving treatment, and at least one puppy had to be euthanized after not responding to treatment and continuing to suffer with parvovirus, the report said.
Mitchell has since filed a lawsuit that alleges her landlord racially discriminated against her, calling her a “stupid black girl,” and illegally evicted the business. Mitchell, who is representing herself, also argues in the suit that Imperato “had a duty to provide at least food and water to dogs” when she “had absolute custody” of the animals.
Imperato said she never made any racist comments, and could not be responsible for the animals because Mitchell previously requested that Imperato never enter the barn or approach the animals.
The Elk Grove Animal Services administrative hearing report, which found the seizure lawful, stated “The Caretakers’ Request for Hearing offered no legal authority to support this claim” that Imperato was responsible for the animals.
Animal Services offered to return the seized animals if Mitchell’s group provided a plan to secure safe shelters and foster homes. It did not a submit a plan by the deadline, Humlie said.
Imperato told The Bee that the same day the last of the dogs were seized, Mitchell brought three new animals into the barn. Eviction proceedings are ongoing, Imperato said, and Mitchell’s business continues to operate on the property.
“The conditions of the dogs were not a Sarah McLachlan commercial,” Humlie said. “They had gotten sporadic feeding.”
“But because they were vulnerable and because it was such a dirty environment,” she continued, “we were concerned about their welfare.”
How to adopt the rescued dogs
Many of the dogs seized last month are available for adoption, and can be viewed through Sacramento County Bradshaw Animal Shelter’s adoption page.
Among the surviving dogs and puppies are German shepherds, Cairn terriers, miniature poodles, Chihuahuas and Siberian huskies, according to Humlie.
Several seized dogs will also be at an Elk Grove Animal Services adoption event March 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Petco at 7715 Laguna Blvd.
“My experience with these dogs is they are really sweet,” Humlie said, “and really deserving of good homes and I think they’re ready for some permanence and stability in their life.”