82-year-old Howell woman charged with hoarding dogs, horses in cruel conditions
HOWELL — A dozen dogs and two horses living in filth were rescued from the home of an 82-year-old woman on Thursday.
Monmouth County SPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra said his staff and police responded to a call about a horse running around on Fort Plains Road in a pasture that was in "horrendous condition" with garbage sprawled about and makeshift chains and boards instead of fencing.
As the MCSPCA made its way further back on the property they discovered old kennels falling apart with trees growing through them and the dogs, mostly Chihuahuas and shitzus, living in them, Licitra said. A dead baby possum was found in the back of one of the kennels, according to Licitra.
"They were living in absolutely deplorable conditions with severe matting, overgrown nails, ear and skin infections and visible tumors. Some may have been pregnant and all were covered in fleas.
"Some of the dogs were missing eyes and ears and had trouble standing or walking properly," Licitra said.
The MCSPCA treated the dogs and got them vaccinated and microchipped.
Licitra said owner Audrey Duchateau had lived on the property in a "pack-rat hoarding situation" for the about 40 years.
"She's feeding the dogs but they just weren't cared for and were living in subhuman conditions. Just a terrible place."
Duchatrau was charged Friday with 24 counts of animal cruelty, failure to provide proper care and shelter according to Licitra.
Licitra said the dogs were taken to the MCSPCA's Eatontown shelter for long term care to help them trust humans again before they can be put up for adoption.
"The dogs are very scared and confused and seem to have no idea what it's like to be in a warm place with a comfortable bed," Licitra said. The horses were taken to a farm to be cared for.
A special donation page has been created by the MCSPCA for donations specifically for their care.
"We've had staff here caring for the dogs since they arrived and need your help to give them the necessary treatment and supplies to help them heal," Licitra said.
A Howell couple was charged with 552 charges of animal cruelty when 276 dogs were found in their home in June.