Friday, August 21, 2015

Pennsylvania: Christy Cunningham says she's an animal rescuer; authorities say she's a hoarder and have charged her with animal cruelty

PENNSYLVANIA -- Thirteen dogs have been taken from a woman charged with animal cruelty after she failed to improve their living conditions.

According to a detective from the Lawrence County District Attorney’s office, Christy Cunningham, 44, of 2773 Marr Road, Pulaski Township, was given time to clean up her property and her dogs’ living conditions after being charged with animal cruelty in March.

When authorities returned this week, they said they found dogs living in deplorable conditions that included excrement.

Even after the charges were filed, Cunningham adopted another chocolate Labrador retriever from an Ohio rescue operation. The group had been warned not to give Cunningham any dogs, authorities said.

That dog was among those confiscated when officers returned to her property last week for an inspection. Also, since March, a Jack Russell terrier had given birth to a second set of five puppies. They found two other Jack Russells plus a silver Labrador retriever, a yellow Lab mix, a border collie and a Rottweiler. The dogs range in age.

The detective said authorities had tried to work with Cunningham by giving her a chance to clean up and keep her dogs. However, they found she did not comply or rectify the problem.

Cunningham had indicated she wanted to make a plea bargain, but officials said that is now out of the question. The case is awaiting trial in Lawrence County common pleas court.

Cunningham, a well-known volunteer for local animal rescue organizations, was charged last spring after a dead horse and two emaciated horses were found in her barn. The two horses were seized and have since been adopted, authorities said. One went to a mustang ranch in Alabama.

The district attorney’s office charged Cunningham at the time with 22 counts of cruelty to animals, six counts of not having licenses for her dogs, and six counts of not having her dogs properly vaccinated against rabies.

Diana Estman, founder of Club Pet Adoption in Mercer County, said Wednesday the district attorney has released the dogs to be adopted. She said her group took the 13 dogs so that they could stay in the local area.

She said some are 10 to 12 years old and have lived with Cunningham for years since being rescued themselves.

“The whole thing is very sad,” she said. “Some of the dogs are seniors and lived in the home all their lives.”

She said the dogs are available for adoption for a $80 fee and will all be seen by a veterinarian before they are adopted. She said that any animal of an age to be spayed or neutered will have the procedure done before being let go.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the animals can call the organization at (724) 962-0877 where they will be directed on how to make application.

(New Castle News - Aug 20, 2015)