|Tue, Oct 21, 2014 03:07 AM
|Issue of October 15, 2014
November 06, 2013 | 08:20 AM
Jury selection will start today (Wednesday) for a trial involving a Depauw couple charged with four counts of Class A misdemeanor cruelty to an animal and one count of Class D felony neglect of a dependent in 2011.
Randall T. and Samantha Sue Lee, both of the 5700 block of Milltown-Frenchtown Road, were charged after 36 cats, three dogs and four chickens were removed from their home on Nov. 17, 2011. The Dept. of Child Services told the couple that their two children had to stay elsewhere until the home's living conditions were deemed more suitable. The children were allowed to return home after a couple of days.
Randall Lee (click for larger version)
Samantha Lee (click for larger version)
The Lees run an in-home, no-kill cat rescue shelter under the name Frisky Felines Foundation. Their shelter is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
According to Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue, the smell of feces, urine, molding clothing and rotting food caused his nostrils to swell shut and made it difficult to breathe when he went into the Lee home to remove the animals. He said he also noted that there was feline diarrhea on the floor.
"After a lengthy discovery process, the State of Indiana is looking forward to the opportunity to try this matter in front of a jury of the defendants' peers," Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said.
A report was filed by District 8 Field Technician Dr. Jodi Lovejoy of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health who evaluated the animals and rated them using the Purina Body Condition Scoring System. The animals were rated on a 1.0 to 9.0 scale where 1.0 is emaciated, 9.0 is extremely obese and normal body condition is 5.0. The presence or absence of periodontal disease was also noted in the report.
She said that of the 36 cats, 21 scored in the 1.0 to 2.0 range and nine others were in the 2.5 to 3.5 range. Six of the cats scored in the 4.0 to 4.5 range.
Of the dogs, one was scored 7.0 (heavy) while the other two were in the normal range of 4.5 to 5.0. One of the dogs also tested positive for heartworms.
Two of the four chickens were in thin body condition, while the other two were in good condition.
Lovejoy said the only two cats known to be vaccinated for rabies were two feral cats. The Lees did not provide rabies vaccination information for the majority of the cats and none of the dogs. (Rabies vaccination of all dogs, cats and ferrets over 3 months of age is required in Indiana.)
Lovejoy said several photos of living conditions of the animals as provided by LaHue showed multiple litter boxes, most of which contained substantial amounts of cat feces and the presence of cat feces outside of the litter boxes. Some of the feces noted were not properly formed, indicating the cat(s) had diarrhea. Feces were documented around floor vents and a door, she said.
All of the animals were taken into custody by Harrison County Animal Control. Seven of the cats and a chicken have since died.
LaHue estimated the Lees owe more than $30,000 in fines and vet bills.