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Local shelter owners arrested, took 141 animals on CA - VA trip

January 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Two animal shelter owners face over 100 charges of animal cruelty, accused of keeping dozens of dogs in deplorable conditions during a cross-country move.

Bonnie Sheehan, 55, and Pamela King-McCracken, 59, both of Long Beach, were arrested Tuesday in Tennessee for transporting 140 dogs and one cat inside a U-Haul and a mini-van in reportedly unacceptable conditions. Authorities said two of the dogs were found dead.

"They were all crammed in crates, some were running loose, some have some bite wounds, some were bleeding, some were coughing," said Fayette County Animal Rescue's Gina Thweatt.

Sheehan and McCracken told Tennessee police they were transporting the dogs from California to Virginia to find them good homes. However, Thweatt said a reputable group would not have done that to animals in need of rescue.

According to Long Beach Animal Care Services director John Keissler, the women ran the non-profit Hearts for Hounds rescue operation in conjunction with the Long Beach Kennel Room and Groom, located on the 1300 block of Obispo Avenue. Animal care services removed more than a dozen animals from the kennel Thursday and is in the process of contacting the owners to pick up their pets.

Keissler also said animal care services is investigating whether anyone in the department had any knowledge of Sheehan and King-McCracken's move to the East Coast.

"It's disappointing. I think that maybe the people had the right idea, but just about it the wrong fashion," said dog owner Michael Watson.