Editor’s note: This story contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some.
FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) — A woman is facing several animal cruelty charges after police said 26 animals were found living in her home.
Vickie West, 63, of Fayetteville turned herself in to police after a felony warrant was issued for her arrest on Feb. 23 for two counts of aggravated cruelty to a dog and two counts of cruelty to animals, according to a warrant affidavit.
Fayetteville police found 25 dogs, 1 cat, as well as three dead dogs at West’s East Missouri Way residence during a search Jan. 10, the affidavit states.
Officers said they had to wear protective gear because the “odor of animal feces and decay was so pungent it burned the officers’ eyes and sinuses.”
West returned during the search and had another dog inside her vehicle.
A veterinarian with Fayetteville Animal Services examined the animals and said all of their coats were saturated with urine and feces, and several of the dogs were abnormally thin or weak.
The vet also examined the three dead dogs and determined that one of the dogs had been dead for four months.
Inside the home, several dogs were found in small cages that had several inches of fecal matter lining the bottom, according to the affidavit. There were also dogs running free throughout the home. One of the rooms inside the home had layered debris, including fecal matter. The fecal matter was three-feet in some spots.
Fayetteville Animal Services was first contacted about West in November by the animal welfare organization San Antonio Pets Alive. A representative said West had adopted four dogs in the past few weeks, and was looking to adopt two additional dogs. In total, West adopted 10 dogs from the organization since 2015.
West told officers that she was working with various rescue organizations to adopt dogs that were at risk for euthanasia, and then she was transferring them to those organizations, the affidavit states. She said the dogs were rarely with her for more than a few days.
Another person, working on behalf of animal rescue groups in Texas, contacted Fayetteville Animal Services Jan. 3 and told them West had adopted five dogs from San Antonio Pets Alive and then posted on social media that three of the pets had died, the affidavit states. Days later the same person called again and reported that West had adopted a dog Dec. 6, 2016, named Jerry Lee from a Fort Smith shelter. She returned him a month and two days later.
Jerry Lee returned in an emaciated condition and had several sores and wounds on his body, the affidavit states.
West was being held Wednesday (March 8) in the Washington County Detention Center in lieu of a $2,500 bond.