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Fate of hoarded dogs in IE rests in hands of court

April 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the last 10 months, the Ramona Humane Society has been home to dozens of dogs that were taken from a Menifee home last June.

Animal control officers say at the time, the animals had been living in filthy conditions. Traci Murray, the woman accused of hoarding the animals, is fighting these claims.

"We've got a lady that has been asked at least eight times on paper to release these animals so they can be adopted out," said Animal Control Supervisor Animal Friends of the Valleys Monqunec Middleton.

While Murray fights the justice system, the dogs have remained cooped up victims of a legal battle. Because the dogs are wards of the court, animal control officials cannot find homes for the dogs until a decision is made.

"The poor animals have been sitting in that shelter because the case keeps getting postponed which is kind of a cruelty unto itself keeping the animals in a shelter for that long," said Wila Bagwell with Animal Friends of the Valleys.

In the months since the animals came to the shelter one dog died of old age. Another gave birth to a litter of puppies, of which only two survived.

And with each passing month, Ramona Humane Society CEO Jeff Sheppard has grown more frustrated with the legal process.

"When there are this many animals involved and it can't go to a speedy trial or get a quick resolution, the animals interests need to be put first," said Sheppard.

While these animals wait in a legal limbo the tax payer is footing the bill. So far the humane society says it has spent $66,000 housing, feeding and caring for the dogs.

"We will go for restitution from the owner but she won't be able to pay so ultimately it's going to be the city," said Bagewell.

Murray and her attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. Murray is due back in court May 2.


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