Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Lauderdale County couple charged in hoarding case; more than 200 animals found on their property
January 30, 2015 whnt.com
LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Shoals couple has been jailed on charges of animal cruelty. The remains of several horses were found on their property late Thursday evening by authorities who were investigating a citizen complaint. Deputies say the couple had more than 200 animals on the Central Heights property, all of which have been seized by animal control officers. The seizure started first thing Friday morning, and WHNT News 19 was there to document the deplorable conditions the animals were living in.
Cobwebs and dust covered the cages of more than 150 rabbits kept in a building on the rented property of Laura Fitterman Sherwood in Central Heights. Not only was the building in horrific shape, authorities say the home Sherwood shared with her husband Pat might have been even worse on the inside.
Deputies say more than a dozen dogs were being kept in cages, next to totes full of mice and hamsters. “It’s another case of hoarding and we’ve seen another recently as you know,” said Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. “It’s just another one of those cases that are unfortunately becoming more and more common.”
Connolly says 25 horses, a few donkeys, and a couple of llamas were being kept in a pasture behind the home. He says most of the horses will be able to be rehabilitated from the rain rot and malnourishment they have experienced. However, deputies say they will have to put down at least one of the horses due to a leg injury which was never treated by a veterinarian.
“The idea is that we want to get those animals, and if they can be saved we are going to save them,” said Connolly. “And again, we’ve got resources fortunately to do that now. But yes, we’ve locked those folks up and we’ll be holding them accountable for what they’ve done.”
The Sherwoods have been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and 15 counts of cruelty to animals. Pat Sherwood has also been charged with failing to register as a sex offender after moving to Lauderdale County from Tennessee. Both are being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center.
February 10, 2015 UPDATE: Animals from hoarding case surrendered to district attorney
Comment: According to District Attorney Chris Connelly, the rabbits have been transferred to Andy High, who is the Lauderdale County coroner. High’s Facebook page and the American Rabbit Breeders Association identify him as a rabbit judge and breeder. According to his Facebook profile, High is a member of an online group “Carnivore Feed Supplier,” which displays graphic photos of dead, skinned rabbits.
Note: High has cleaned these references off his Facebook page.
Update #2: Andy High, the county coroner has callously and recklessly given away the confiscated rabbits to other breeders in Alabama and Tennessee, where they will be forced to breed in squalor for the rest of their lives. This is totally unacceptable! House Rabbit Society branches are willing to take in these rabbits. You can let your thoughts be known by contacting the District Attorney Chris Connelly.
In Defense of Animals has a form letter you can sign: (since been deactivated) https://secure2.convio.net/ida/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=2726
1,000 animals rescued from horrific backyard breeding operation, Houston; over 200 outside Dallas; 92 rabbits & hamsters near Calgary, member of ARBA; Spokane animals seized, exploited as multi-purpose objects; Ohio cruelty