In late October, close to 500 dogs, three goats and two cats were found in fetid conditions at the Every Dog Needs a Home facility in Gamaliel, Ark., owned by Tammy and William Hanson. Authorities estimated that about 100 of the dogs were from the hurricane-battered streets of New Orleans.
The charges handed down Monday by Baxter County, Ark., District Judge Van Gearhart also included orders that the dogs be given to the county sheriff's office, which will work with the Humane Society of the United States to find new homes or shelters for the animals.
The Hanson's trial is set for Jan. 16, 2006. In an Oct. 24 interview with the Baxter Bulletin newspaper, William Hanson insisted that the situation was overblown.
"We were overwhelmed with the new dogs arriving, but we were getting it together," he said. "A week from now it would have been a whole different story."
Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery told U.S. Newswire the conditions on the property were "horrific" and he is relieved with the ruling.
"For the safety and well being of the animals we must be able to move them out as quickly as possible," he said.
According to the Humane Society, the shelter's ground was found covered with several inches of feces, dog food, maggots, tarps and trash. At least five dogs had died, and most lacked proper shelter.
Animal care experts said the case was typical of "animal hoarding," a situation in which pet owners accumulate large numbers of animals and are either unwilling or unable to provide adequate care. Thousands of animal hoarding cases occur each year, according to Randy Frost, a psychology professor at Smith College and a hoarding researcher.