Police: County woman charged with cruelty to animals

County woman charged with cruelty to animals

HAMBLEN TWP. — A 49-year-old Sweetwater woman, Mary Bolen, faces a Class A misdemeanor charge for cruelty to animals after an animal control officer visited her residence while she was in the hospital in September.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Bolen was taken to the hospital on Sept. 20 for trouble breathing.

At that time, an on-scene Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy noted “squalor” living conditions for the residents and animals at the residence on Muskrat Drive and submitted a report to the Department of Child Services (DCS), according to the affidavit.

On Sept. 22, Brown County Animal Control Officer Bethany Heldman was informed of reports that no one had been by Bolen’s residence to care for her animals — four dogs and three cats — since her hospitalization and a family member wished for animal control to take in the animals for care.

Heldman was then contacted by a DCS Caseworker, who asked Heldman to meet two of Bolen’s family members at the home on Sept. 23 to collect the animals.

According to the affidavit, Heldman reached at the residence first, and upon arrival, she observed a “geriatric” dog digging in the trash in the driveway.

She recognized the dog as belonging to Bolen due to complaints of the dog running at large in the past. Heldman was able to catch the dog and load him in her truck. When the Bolen’s family members arrived at the residence, they confirmed the dog was Bolen’s.

One of Bolen’s family members reportedly informed Heldman that she would go inside the residence to collect the other animals and bring them out to the Animal Control vehicle.

While the family member was inside the home, Heldman inspected the dog and observed him as having an “extreme” dental disease, a skin condition on his back and a persistent cough, according to the affidavit.

Heldman could not locate any shelter for the dog on the property except for an airline-style kennel that was reportedly full of feces, straw, a pair of scissors and wet blankets.

In addition, she could not locate any food for the dog, and the only water source appeared to be rainwater collected in a bowl on the deck, according to the affidavit.

Bolen’s family member then brought out five of the remaining six animals for Heldman to inspect and secure inside the Animal Control truck.

The first animal was another dog, which Heldman observed as having extremely overgrown nails and severe dental disease. The second was a deaf dog, whose ribs were visible from a distance and paws were stained with urine. The third was also a dog that appeared extremely emaciated. The fourth was a cat which appeared to be of adequate body condition and another cat that appeared to be extremely emaciated and lethargic.

Heldman also observed that all five animals smelled very strongly of feces and urine.

The family member who was collecting the animals told Heldman that she was unable to catch the final cat because it had gone behind some furniture, so Heldman offered to set up live trap in the home to catch it.

One of the family members was on the phone with Bolen at that time, and she gave Heldman permission to set the trap and to enter the home the following day to check it.

When Heldman entered the residence to set the trap Heldman observed the odor of animal feces and urine. She set the trap in the basement of the home, where the family said the cat was hiding, with wet cat food as bait.

Heldman then left the property and transported the six captured animals to the Brown County Humane Society (BCHS), where she photographed the animals, gave them food and water and placed them inside clean kennels.

The animals immediately ate all the food given to them and the second captured cat drank all the water given to her “voraciously,” according to the affidavit.

Heldman returned to the residence on the morning of Sept. 24 to check the live trap. The cat was not in the trap, so Heldman checked the residence for the cat.

Heldman could not locate the cat, so she refreshed the trap with more bait and left the residence. She returned later that afternoon, and saw the cat was successfully captured in the trap. The cat was thin enough for Heldman to easily observe her spine without touching her. Heldman transported the cat to BCHS.

While there, the BCHS staff said there was “major concern” for the animals, especially for one of the dogs, and they would be taking him for a veterinary exam on Sept. 26. Heldman contacted a Board of Animal Health state veterinarian and requested an examination the animals for the investigation.

On Sept. 26, Heldman met with Bolen to speak about the animals in the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center.

According to the affidavit, Bolen told Heldman that someone was supposed to be caring for the animals while she was in the hospital, that she was aware of one of the dog’s conditions for months, but did not take him for veterinary care due to financial restraints, that one of the cats had a litter of kittens that she did not know about until they started walking.

Bolen also reportedly told Heldman that none of the animals were up to date on veterinary care or vaccinations, and have not been to a veterinarian in several years, according to the affidavit.

Bolen also said she is not allowed to reenter her home due to her health issues.

Heldman explained the impounding process, and Bolen signed the impound form.

On Sept. 28, Heldman met with a veterinarian at the BCHS for an examination of the seven impounded animals, during which the veterinarian reported two of the three cats and three of the four dogs were emaciated.

According to the affidavit, the veterinarian reported that due to the conditions of the home, the seven animals were in “immediate jeopardy” at the time they were impounded by Brown County Animal Control.

Bolen did not pay the bond amount required to retain ownership of the impounded animals by the 10-day mark of Oct. 4.

The BCHS provided updated weights for the four thinnest animals in the report and disclosed that all the animals are doing “extremely well” in their care.

Bolen was formally charged on Nov. 30