103 animals euthanized in Nevada sanctuary investigation

Two women face felony charges after investigators say they found more than 400 animals in unsanitary conditions at a sanctuary they operated from their Nevada home, including a coyote "running wild" inside the house and an owl and fox locked in a bathroom.

More than 100 of the domestic and wild animals discovered on the property in the tiny community of Cold Creek, about 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, had to be euthanized, authorities said.

Donna Mead, 51, and Dawn Spoolman, 54, operated the nonprofit Desert Rescue Animal Shelter for nine years, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2e7Bzy4).

An arrest warrant described the situation at their four-bedroom home as an extreme case of animal hoarding.

Investigators from Clark County Animal Control and Metropolitan Police Department first visited the property in April after receiving a tip.

Detectives found one coyote in a cage in the garage and another "running wild through the living room and the rest of the house," according to the arrest warrant. An owl was locked in the bathroom along with a kit fox whose paw was stuck in a wire crate.

Investigators also found reptiles, rodents, pigeons, cats, dogs, ferrets and rabbits in stacks of cages that were covered in urine and feces. The warrant said none of the cages contained clean water.

Outside, two horses and six goats lacked clean water and proper shelter, the warrant said. Two wolves were also seized.The warrant said 103 of 428 animals removed from the sanctuary had to be put down after medical examinations.

Mead and Spoolman each face three felony counts of malicious torture and two dozen misdemeanor violations. They were booked into the Clark County jail Tuesday and later released on house arrest.

Spoolman told an animal control detective she and Mead were overwhelmed by attempting to care for all the animals, the warrant said.

Neither Mead nor her lawyer could be reached for comment Thursday. Las Vegas Attorney Don Green is representing Spoolman. He declined to comment except to say the case was "anything but routine."

The case goes to court in December.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com