SHINGLE SPRINGS (CBS13) — Authorities are investigating a case of animal cruelty in El Dorado County. Hundreds of dogs and other animals were removed from in and around two homes there.
It’ was a case several years in the making. The animal owners reportedly wanted to help animals, while others worried they were at risk of being harmed.
El Dorado County Animal Services Agents took one crate after another from inside two homes on the Shingle Springs Property Thursday. Several hundred dogs were stacked in cages with even more outside.
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“We had no idea there were so many. It kept us up at night with the barking,” said a neighbor.
Neighbors who wanted to remain anonymous said they have been complaining about noise, feces, and overall funk for years.
“This has been going on as long as I have been here since 2011. And it’s been caught up in the legal system and hasn’t been able to go any further than that,” the neighbor said.
The owner of the animals, Alma Marie Winston, has a different story.
“They have been plotting against our family to get us out of here,” Winston said.
Winston runs an animal sanctuary with her wife, caring for dogs, cats, birds, alpacas, and horses.
“We have a horse with three legs. We have taken in animals left on the side of the road,” Winston said.
She said they have 150 dogs and admitted some are sick, but blamed authorities for spreading it on the property in the past.
“In the main house, they have circovirus. They call it skinny disease. They brought it in when they came in with the search warrant,” Winston said.
Animal services would not say why it’s taken so long to remove the animals because it’s an active criminal investigation. But they did say this is a case of animal cruelty and a non-licensed kennel.
“We just saw it and were shocked with all the animals inside,” said a real estate agent for the landowner.
He said his client has been trying to evict Winston. She was ordered off the property Thursday as animals were taken into vans.
Neighbors watched from afar.
One said, “It breaks my heart.”
Several agencies helped remove the animals. They will be relocated to the El Dorado County Animal shelter, but it is unclear what will happen from there.