Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Complaints prompt seizure of animals

May 23, 2001

After receiving numerous complaints, the Leavenworth County sheriff's department last week seized numerous small animals from a rural Tonganoxie property.

"I think they've been fed and watered," said sheriff's Lt. John Duncanson. "Ventilation is a problem; sanitation is a problem."

The animals were both in a barn and a house on the property.

Also on the property were 18 horses, one donkey and 33 buffalo, all of which were in a pasture, he said.

It's unclear when or if those animals will be removed from the land, which is owned by Marc and Diane DeFries Thiry. The property is about two miles east of Tonganoxie, on the north side of U.S. Highway 24-40.

Attempts to reach the Thirys and their attorney have been unsuccessful.

Duncanson said these animals were taken: 13 dogs, eight cats, one rabbit, three lizards, three hedge hogs, 10 birds and five tarantulas.

According to Lisa Pelofsky of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, one of the dogs was in the house.

"The birds and the cats were in the house, along with the reptiles," Pelofsky said.

The smell of animal feces and urine, as well as dead animals, was overpowering, she said.

"I'm shocked there were any alive in the house at all," Pelofsky said. "It was just so disgusting. I couldn't go in there, even with a mask on. The police were coming out and throwing up."

She said she's not sure how many dead animals there were.

"There were a lot of them," she said. "We didn't inventory those."

The small animals that were seized are under the care of the humane society and being housed in several locations. They ultimately will be available for adoption.

"We're treating all of them, and spaying and neutering them," Pelofsky said. "Many of them have serious illnesses, and we're in the process of treating them."

Sheriff's officers seized the animals because of complaints from area residents.

"They were taken because we'd gotten numerous reports that the animals weren't being cared for," said Major Dave Zoellner, Leavenworth County undersheriff.

Sheriff's officers observed the property, Zoellner said, before moving in to seize the animals last Wednesday.

Zoellner said he's not sure whether any charges would result in the case.

"If, in fact, we could prove animal cruelty, I would say there would be," he said.

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