OPELOUSAS, La. — An Opelousas woman has been booked with 174 counts of animal cruelty in connection with a puppy mill investigation earlier this year.
Anita Kathy Belaire, 60, was booked by the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office.
Over the past several months, authorities have removed more than 100 dogs from her home. Back in March, St. Landry Parish Animal Control said the owner of the animals surrendered the majority of the animals from the recent raid under some conditions.
“She gave up 130+ breeding dogs, moms, and little males,” said director Terri Courvelle. “She only surrendered those.”
At the time, she did not face any charges, as St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office was waiting to hear the results of the vet’s examination.
At the time, the director of animal control says there are obvious signs of animal neglect, which would be unlawful under the parish’s animal abuse ordinance.
“We had a vet on the scene that assessed every single dog and made notes on them, and yes, it was a neglect issue,” said Courvelle.
Courvelle says the owner surrendered those breeding animals only if she got to keep the nursing moms and pups, which totaled to about 100 animals that stayed with the owner.
Otherwise, the shelter would’ve had to keep all of the animals through a lengthy court process, which could take up to 18 months. Now, the director is able to check the welfare of the animals at any moment.
“It was also in her own surrender that the director could check on these animals at any given time, with no advanced warning,” said Courvelle.
Courvelle said the animals were standing in urine, overcrowded, and without warmth and many of them are now facing medical issues – even having to remove a puppy’s eye.
The Bissell Pet Foundation came and took care of the majority of the animals from the first raid, vaccinating them and taking them to safety.
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