Donna Montoya Animal Cruelty

January 16, 2012 by staff 

Donna Montoya Animal CrueltyDonna Montoya Animal Cruelty, The Porter County Animal Shelter Advisory Board is unhappy with how law enforcement officials handled this week’s removal of 82 dogs from a Chesterton-area home.

Their concerns, said board president Toni Bianchi, include the influx of animals and the shelter’s ability to handle them; a preference for a limited number of animals to arrive at a time, for the sake of manageability; and the lack of involvement by the board in the matter, since it concerns the shelter.

“It’s a bad situation and next time this happens, we would like to see it handled in a more efficient way,” she said.

Law enforcement officials put off taking the dogs, which were originally thought to number around 60, for about four weeks until a suitable set-up could be found for them, Porter County Sheriff David Lain said.

“This was not ever going to be an ideal situation, but it was first and foremost a public safety issue, and that falls under my perusal,” he said, adding it was also a potential crime scene – dog owner Donna Montoya may face Class A misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals – and that limited outside participation.

The shelter advisory board sent a letter to the Porter County Board of Commissioners dated Jan. 10, the day law enforcement officials received a search warrant for the raid, outlining their concerns. The animals were removed Wednesday and Thursday.

“We feel there are better ways to handle this situation and those should have been explored before planning this seizure,” the letter states.

Bianchi, an animal behaviorist, was at the site where the dogs were being kept for much of Wednesday, as Porter County Animal Control and the Porter County Sheriff’s Department officers brought them in.

Had the dogs been surrendered 10 or 15 at a time, Bianchi said, the situation would have been more manageable for those involved, and less stressful for both the animals and the shelter staff.

Lain said there was a concern that Montoya would change her mind about cooperating with law enforcement officials, and they received a search warrant for the seizure so they could gather and protect any potential evidence.

This also was not the first time Montoya has gotten in trouble with the law for the condition of the animals on her property, he said; she admitted Wednesday she previously faced an animal neglect charge, but it was dropped.

Board members also were not pleased that they were not involved in some capacity with the raid, Bianchi said.

“We just felt that as an advisory board trying to do what’s best with the shelter, we should have been involved with this and we weren’t,” she said, adding the board sent a letter to the Porter County Board of Commissioners outlining its concerns.

Lain said it’s not his responsibility to involve members of the shelter board, and his department, which includes Animal Control, did the best it could with the conditions at hand.

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