Sunday, March 12, 2017

California: Former cop Mark Vattimo, 73, Accused of Hoarding 169 Yorkies Pleads Not Guilty. His wife Christine Calvert also facing charges

CALIFORNIA -- A man accused of hoarding more than a hundred small dogs at his North County home plead not guilty at his first court appearance Monday.

San Diego couple Mark Vattimo, 73, and Christine Calvert, 62, each face 10 felony counts of animal abuse and neglect. Vattimo also faces one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.

Note: Vattimo's first name was incorrect when this was originally posted. It has been corrected to identify former police officer MARK Vattimo as the defendant.

San Diego Police Department spokesperson Scott Wahl confirmed Vattimo is a retired SDPD officer. He retired from the department in 1986.  

Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said each defendant faces a maximum prison sentence of nine years if convicted of all counts consecutively. -- this will never happen. 

"The dogs were in a main room. There was a mattress on the floor. There were mice running across the floor. Feces and urine soaked the mattress -- they [feces] were on that and most of the walls," said Reedy.

At the arraignment, Vattimo was ordered not to have any animals in his possession, in his home or to be in contact with any animals.

Initially, Vattimo did not comply with having his properties searched but several days later he complied, said Reedy. The San Diego Humane Society went to the house, after receiving a complaint from a concerned veterinarian.

There were 29 dogs turned over within the first couple hours.

Later, 46 dogs were located in Nevada, that were taken from San Diego by Vattimo's wife Calvert. She will return to San Diego for her arraignment.

Per the newer article, Christine Calvert stuffed 50 dogs into an RV and drove from California to Nevada, where she owns property. That should be a felony charge - hiding evidence, fleeing the state to continue the crime, etc. 

Another 29 dogs were found inside a restaurant the couple owned (Cully's Restaurant), the prosecutor said.

There were a total of 169 yorkshire terriers seized by the authorities from each defendant. All of the animals had a variety of health conditions and problems.

“All of the dogs that were removed from the home and their care had some type of problem -- there were genetic problems, there were health problems, there was dental disease. There was eye problems and a variety of health conditions," said Reedy.

It was not immediately clear whether either of the defendants suffered from a mental health disorder that would have lead to the hoarding. The Deputy District Attorney Reedy said this would become apparent later in the case.

All of Vattimo's properties may be searched for animals, which may include a restaurant that he owns.

After the dogs were rescued, the Humane Society received more than 1,500 applications for their adoption. The couple was arrested in late February.

(NBC San Diego - Mar 6, 2017)