Owner of 14 abandoned dogs cited | NevadaAppeal.com

Owner of 14 abandoned dogs cited

F.T. Norton
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

An elderly woman who has been cited at least twice before for hoarding animals in Churchill County was cited in Carson City this week. Animal Services found more than two dozen dogs that Stella Cook, 81 allegedly abandoned in a rental home when she moved out, said Carson City Animal Services Supervisor Pat Wiggins.

Cook must appear in court on Oct. 28 on a misdemeanor charge of abandoning animals and another charge of overcrowding.

Wiggins said his office received a call on Aug. 16 from the property owner that there were 14 dogs left behind by Cook at a home on Mountain Park Drive.

“Some of them were not very socialized. They were probably not kept as pets, more kept as just property,” said Wiggins.

At least six of the small mixed-Labrador dogs were euthanized for aggressive behavior or illness. Three of them are in foster care. Two of the dogs have been adopted by families and three of them remain at Animal Services, including a pregnant female.

Wiggins said he tracked Cook to Minden after he spotted her vehicle, and followed her home.

“She knew she shouldn’t have left the dogs,” said Wiggins. He said she didn’t give an explanation as to why she had so many animals.

Wiggins said that if Cook is convicted, he’ll ask the judge to order her to undergo counseling for hoarding.

According to the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium of Tufts University, hoarding is when someone keeps “large numbers of neglected, companion animals in inappropriate, inadequate and over-crowded conditions that cause starvation, disease, behavioral problems or death.”

Most hoarders are females, a large portion are 60 years of age or older, most are single, divorced, or widowed. Almost half live alone, according to Tufts University’s research.

“The most important thing is to get her some counseling, some help. If we just fine her, just slap her wrists, she’ll go back to hoarding,” said Wiggins.

According to a 2006 article in the Lahontan Valley News, members of Fallon Animal Control removed 23 dogs from a home owned by Cook there. Seven others dogs were recovered around the property, and all 30 were destroyed due to behavioral and inbreeding issues.

In that instance, the home’s interior was essentially destroyed by dog activity and littered with feces. The dogs burrowed holes from room to room and also outside the house. Cook slept on a sofa that was elevated off the floor in the kitchen.

Six years prior, more than 100 dogs were also taken from Cook and had to be destroyed, according to reports in the Lahontan Valley News.

– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.