ALHAMBRA >> Authorities armed with a warrant forced their way into the Alhambra home of an animal care advocate Wednesday, seizing 17 dogs and a cat.
Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control officials and Alhambra police had an inspection warrant in-hand when they arrived shortly before 11 a.m. at the single-story home in the 100 block of S. Meridian Avenue, according to Alhambra police and DACC officials.
They encountered a variety of breeds of dogs of all sizes, along with a single calico cat, all living in “deplorable,” conditions, Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
The resident was not home when officials showed up at the home and forced their way into the house with a battering ram, according to police and neighbors.
A notice left on the front door of the home was directed to Claudia Angel. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
It noted “unsanitary conditions,” and mentioned that some of the animals suffered from skin problems.
Officials were still assessing the medical condition of the animals Wednesday afternoon, however none of them appeared emaciated when collected from inside the home, DACC Deputy Director Derek Brown said.
Neighbor Irene Romero said she was aware there were several dogs at the home, but she did not realize how many.
Barking at the home had not been a problem, though the smell of animal waste could be very strong at times, according to Romero and another neighbor.
Romero said she didn’t believe her neighbor, intended to harm the animals.
“She’s a nice lady,” Romero said. “She has a big heart.”
Angel’s Facebook profile is filled with messages urging responsible animal care.
Her contact information was listed, along with animals available for adoption, on Facebook page posts of the Montrose Pet Hospital as recently as March 17.
And although Angel’s online profile indicated she “worked” at the pet hospital, owner and veterinarian Ben Sures said in an email that she has never been employee of the hospital, though she was a client.
Angel is also described online as a past member of several other animal care-related organizations.
The Alhambra Municipal Code sets a limit of two dogs per residence.
Officials obtained an inspection warrant for the home after receiving, “concerns about the animals’ welfare from the public,” Brown said.
“We do that only if we don’t have any other choice,” Brown said, adding that the resident had failed to cooperate with less-intrusive efforts to perform an inspection at the home.
An investigation remained ongoing, and it was unclear what, if any, legal consequences Angel may face, officials said. If only found responsible for having too many dogs, a citation could be the result. If the investigation should turn up evidence of abuse or neglect, criminal charges could become a possibility.
“Our primary focus (Wednesday) was on the animals’ welfare,” Brown said.
The ultimate fate of the 17 dogs and one cat seized from the Meridian Avenue home was also yet to be determined, Brown said.
“In some cases, the animals are mandated to the department,” he said. In that event, the animals are generally made available for adoption eventually, though the process can take several months.
In some cases, however, the owner is able to retrieve their animals after proving they can provide proper care, Brown said.
In the meantime, the dogs and cat were being housed at the DACC’s Baldwin Park and Downey shelters.
Police and animal care officials said they were already receiving many calls Wednesday from people interested in adopting the animals seized in Alhambra Wednesday.
PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department