Inside the covered crates was a feces-covered cat scratching to get out, a decomposing dog and a Pomeranian stuck standing in inches of his own waste.
The “horrific” discovery in a Lakewood garage Nov. 29 led animal control officers inside the home, where they found nine other severely neglected critters and two more crates with dead animals.
All of the pets were removed from the home. On Thursday, 48-year-old Patricia Scott pleaded not guilty to four counts of animal cruelty. She was ordered released on her own recognizance and barred from coming near animals.
Pierce County prosecutors said additional charges may be added and warned against her intimidating her family for acting as witnesses in the case.
They contend Scott neglected her pets from October to November while she was living in her parents’ house with her sister and brother-in-law. If anyone tried to care for the animals, Scott’s sister said she would “fly off in a rage.”
The turning point came when Scott’s brother-in-law found one of the dogs dead in the garage. Scott insisted it was sleeping. He called Pierce County Animal Control.
When an officer came to investigate in late November, she found tarps and blankets covering three crates in the garage. Keeping the cat and dogs in filthy, covered cages added to their suffering by leaving them to breathe the ammonia stench, according to charging papers. The officer who found the animals said the ammonia smell was so strong it made her eyes water.
Inside the house were four caged birds that were only uncovered once every two weeks; an emaciated gecko and rat living in dirty aquariums; a rabbit in a feces-filled crate with no food or water; a hamster and a dead mouse with no food or water; and a guinea pig so seriously neglected that it required hand-to-hand care once it was removed from Scott’s home.
Animal control officers also discovered a crate of dead animals and a crate of compressed feces, records show.
It took days to remove feces from the cat’s coat. Scott’s brother-in-law reported the cat’s cage hadn’t been cleaned in two years. The dog had been dead 24 days or so before it was discovered, according to a necropsy.
“It appears several family members are concerned that the defendant may have some mental health issues that are not being adequately addressed,” charging papers show.