A Mayfield animal rescue facility was raided and its owner charged with animal cruelty and various counts of welfare fraud for allegedly drawing benefits while at least partially supporting herself through her rescue operation.
Kelly’s Haven of Route 349, owned by Susan Kelly, was raided at 8 a.m. Monday by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and officials of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Capt. Garth Hillier of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday the department had been receiving complaints about Kelly’s operation for some time and ultimately obtained a warrant to enter the property based on the welfare fraud charges.
“We’ve been trying for some time to get her to weed out some of her animals,” he said, noting that Kelly continued to accept animals dropped off at her shelter. “She couldn’t say no ... she got overwhelmed,” Hillier said.
Kelly is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and welfare fraud. It is alleged she defrauded the county of about $4,000 in benefits by failing to disclose she was paying personal bills from the proceeds of her operation.
ASPCA official Jeff Eyre, northeast director of field investigations and response, was at the scene for a second day Tuesday, working to inventory the more than 290 animals — from dogs and cats to livestock and parrots — and arrange for placement in shelters as far away as Florida and the Midwest.
Eyre said the animals were receiving food, but the living conditions on the farm were well below standards. He said stalls and kennels were dirty and filled with cobwebs, creating conditions that caused respiratory ailments and other medical problems.
An ASPCA veterinary team was on the premises examining each animal, he said. A small number of the animals required emergency care at area vet clinics, he said.
Eyre said he was alerted in December to questionable conditions at Kelly’s farm and visited the facility. He said Kelly was advised to reduce the number of animals in her care.
He said Kelly was trying to run the operation with only one or two volunteers and could not cope. He described her as “someone who had tremendous good intent.” Instead of reducing numbers in her care, he said, “People would drop [additional animals] off and she accepts them.”
The shelter held about 100 dogs and 100 cats, assorted livestock and about 60 birds, officials said.
Eyre said Kelly surrendered custody of all but six animals, giving the ASPCA authority to place them.
The shelter is about a decade old, he said. Attempts to reach Kelly, whose phone number is listed, were unsuccessful Tuesday.