The dogs are being held at the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines and are now owned by the Warren County Sheriff's Department. Morrow will face a criminal trial at a later date.
Lindsey Morrow, 41, who operated the Bully Breed Miracle Network and Rescue, faces charges including animal neglect, animal torture, theft and fraudulent practice. She is currently being held in the Warren County jail.
A hearing was held Wednesday and Thursday on whether Morrow should be allowed to retain two of the 19 dogs that had been removed from properties in Sandyville and Indianola earlier this month. Three dogs were found dead around the Sandyville property in February.
According to Parker's ruling, the two dogs were still neglected according to Iowa Code because they were not given adequate shelter. Parker referred to the "filthy and foul locations" where the dogs were found.
On Wednesday, Morrow’s lawyers presented several reasons why the 22 dogs found in Morrow’s care were either in poor health or dead.
Reasons included one dead dog having an enlarged esophagus, while the other two dead dogs were allegedly dug up by the woman who reported Morrow to the ARL. The woman allegedly placed the remains in front of Morrow's house for everyone to see.
If they're going to accuse her of doing something so horrific, she should have the right to face her accusers in court to deny it. They're grasping at straws because they know there is no good reason for what Lindsey Morrow did.
Amanda testified that one of the dogs died in September 2015. She said the dog was 14 years old when its owners gave it up and died three days after being re-homed. It’s sometimes too stressful for older dogs to be re-homed like that, she said. A second dog found on the property was euthanized several years ago after it attacked a litter of kittens, she said.
Morrow's lawyer's also claimed the dogs were dropped off in poor condition or weren’t in her care that long.
Warren County Sheriff’s deputies Randy Spurr and Cameron Van Zante and Scott Wilson with the Animal Rescue League explained on the witness stand how the dogs were found.
On Feb. 1, Wilson received a call from a pit bull rescuer in Des Moines who told him she visited Morrow’s home to purchase kennels and saw two dead dogs on the property.
Wilson went to Sandyville and could see one of the dead dogs on the front lawn so he called the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. Van Zante went out to the property and the two men knocked on an open front door. No one was home, but they said they could smell a strong odor of urine and feces coming from inside the house.
They said they could observe kennels with several inches of feces in them sitting outside. They could also see feces inside through the open door, and Van Zante said it appeared feces was being shoveled into buckets that were kept inside the home.
On Feb. 2, the officers were able to locate 19 dogs that were still alive and scattered among various properties in Indianola.
Some dogs were being kept at Morrow’s mother’s house on Ashland Avenue, at friend Tina Edward’s house at 305 W. Salem Ave. and in a trailer Edwards lent Morrow parked at 1004 E. Iowa Ave.
Wilson said a hound was found on the floor of the trailer and taken to a veterinarian. The hound was so cold the vet could not determine the dog’s body temperature. That dog is now in recovery.
Veterinarians with the ARL Amanda Steffen and Jennifer Scaccianoce also testified Tuesday about the conditions of the dogs they worked on.
They found different levels of neglect on several of the dogs, which included a Shih Tzu that had 4.5 pounds of matted fur shaved off it. Steffen brought a clear garbage bag of the hair full of the dog’s hair to show the judge how much was taken off.
Steffen said it was hard to tell at first which was the front end and which was the back end of the dog. It took more than four hours to shave off all the fur, she said. The dog also had an ulcer on its eye that needed to be treated.
Another dog was found with blood on its face, another had what appeared to be cigarette burns on it and several dogs had whipworms, fleas and had feces in their mouths. The veterinarians said they assumed the dogs must have been eating their own feces. A few of the dogs were severely emaciated as well.
Several dogs also had urine scalding, which are burns caused by dogs sitting in their own acidic urine too long.
According to court records, the Animal Rescue League has spent nearly $16,000 caring for the dogs so far.
On Thursday, Alex Crabb, an attorney representing Warren County, called Lindsey Morrow to the witness stand.
Morrow claimed her rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals from having to incriminate themselves, to decline to answer more than a dozen questions because she’s still facing a criminal trial.
Lindsey Morrow’s daughter and only witness had to be subpoenaed after she didn’t show up for court Thursday morning.
Amanda, 21, told her mother’s lawyers early Thursday she wasn’t going to show up for court because she believed her dog had been purposefully run over Wednesday night by a car driven by someone seeking revenge for the abused dogs found on her mother’s property.
During his round of questioning, Crabb implied Amanda’s late arrival may have been orchestrated.
Crabb said Morrow called Amanda from the jail and the county received the transcript of the call.
“You gave Amanda specific instructions about her testimony today, correct?” Crabb asked. “Isn’t it true you told her to get up on the stand and 'cry, cry, cry'? Isn’t it true you told her to say whatever [attorney] Bill (Kutmus) told her to say?”
Crabb argued the dogs should be taken from Morrow because they were obviously abused under the terms listed in the Iowa Code.
However, Trever Hook, who also represents Morrow, said the Code requires an individual decision on each dog. He said Lolo and Zeus were not neglected.
Hook, who won’t represent Morrow during her criminal trial, said even if the other dogs are found to be abused they should be considered as an entirely different group of animals because they weren’t pets.
(The Des Moines Register - Feb 24, 2017)