Tuesday, June 13, 2017

California: Mark Vattimo, 72, and Christine Calvert, 62, plead guilty to Felony Animal Cruelty; given 3 years probation

CALIFORNIA -- A Poway couple who were arrested after more than 170 Yorkshire terrier and Yorkie-mix dogs were found in filthy conditions in their home and other locations pleaded guilty Monday to a pair of felony animal abuse charges.


Mark Vattimo, 72, and Christine Calvert, 62, will be placed on three years probation when they are sentenced July 11.

As part of their plea agreement, the defendants won't face additional custody, but will have to undergo counseling, will not be allowed to own any pets and will transfer title of a 31-foot motor home to the Humane Society as restitution in the case.

Vattimo and Calvert can apply to have the felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors after 18 months of successful probation, said Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis.

Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said the Humane Society got a report in January from a concerned veterinarian about the condition of dogs that were being kept in an unsanitary dark room filled with feces, urine and mice at the defendants' home.


Officials from the Humane Society went to the home but were initially denied entrance, Reedy said. A few days later, they were allowed in and 94 dogs were removed from the defendants' home over six to eight hours, the prosecutor said.

Twenty-nine dogs were subsequently taken from a restaurant the couple owned and nearly 50 dogs were seized from the motor home when Calvert was arrested in February in Primm, Nevada.


All of the dogs that were seized from the home had health problems, including ear infections and severe matting. It was not clear why the couple had so many dogs in the residence, Reedy said.

"It's just that they (the defendants) had some issues, they got in over their heads, and we believe that this is a good agreement for all,'' Reedy said. "What's most important is that these pets were saved and got help, and so will these defendants. We want to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.''

Although it's buried in the article and I missed it the first time when I read it, they are required to undergo mental health counseling.

This is the most important aspect of this sentence - not the probation, not them being allowed to get the felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors after they've successfully completed just half their sentence, not them handing over the title to the disgusting urine and feces-filled motor home they hoarded animals in (why the humane society would even want it, I don't know). This couple fled to another state to prevent authorities from rescuing the animals they were forcing to live in squalor. They need this mental health intervention because without it, the recidivism rate for hoarders is 100 PERCENT.

The only thing is I think they should be allowed to each have one small personal pet (sterilized). This would come with restrictions, of course, such as having them checked by a veterinarian every few months and random checks by animal control to ensure they only have those 2 pets.

The reality is, their probation is only three years and Christine Calvert, at just 62 years of age, could live another 30 years - she won't be on restrictions the rest of her life and we all know she'll own more animals so use this time to try to get her (and Mark Vattimo) to understand (with the mental health counseling) proper pet care and how saving just one animal can be just as fulfilling as believing you're saving 100 animals.

Heck, give them two small well-behaved dogs, get the psychiatrist to make them those so-called "emotional therapy" pets and let them take them everywhere with them. They definitely seem like the type that need to be around an animal at all times.

Otherwise, I think this is a good sentence that other jurisdictions should copy.

(KUSI - June 13, 2017)


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