VAN BUREN COUNTY, Ark. — Authorities in Van Buren County, Arkansas say they were forced to shoot nine dogs in order to recover the body of a pet hoarder who passed away inside her rural home. The dogs had already consumed part of the woman’s body.
“When the deputies arrived on the scene to get in to her, the dogs were vicious. You couldn’t even get into the trailer to check on her to see what needed to be done,” Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Braadley said.
The woman, who suffered from hepatitis C, had been in trouble before for hoarding dogs. The county says it made a controversial decision to control the animals, a total of 46 dogs, after finding out the 65-year-old woman suffered from the disease.
“We didn’t know if those diseases, or that disease, would be spread by the dogs in the community,” Bradley said.
“That’s when the real threat began. When they started to roam into the neighbors yards,” said animal control officer Reta Tharp.
Tharp and a veterinarian tried for weeks to save or euthanize the dogs, but after one bit the vet, they decided they had to shoot 27 of them. “It was the only resource we had. We had tried everything else, and it just failed,” Tharp said.
Tharp says it was a controversial decision, one the county didn’t take lightly. “I did what I felt like had to be done,” she said.
Van Buren County consulted with the Arkansas State Health Department who said it’s believed animals could not spread hepatitis C.