March 21, 2013

Authorities take dogs, birds in probe of Wilton woman

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WILTON — Police and Animal Welfare Program employees are investigating a Wilton woman after seizing 75 dogs and 20 birds, including three chickens, from the woman's U.S. Route 2 mobile home.

The officials entered the home of the woman, Nancy Champagne, on March 14 with a warrant to search for evidence of criminal cruelty to animals and for the civil violation of operating an unlicensed breeding kennel, according to Franklin County Superior Court documents.

Champagne did not answer the door and needed to be escorted from the residence by Wilton police, according to District Humane Agent Angela Caldwell in the documents.

Caldwell reported that upon entering the home they were overcome by a powerful ammonia smell and greeted by a wave of small dogs running loose. She reported the house was cluttered with trash, dog food and feces.

The officials reported that Champagne's property included notebooks logging sales, syringes, veterinary instructions, outdated and falsified rabies certificates, a $600 and a $250 wad of cash and a bottle of a wound and infection care product.

Most of the dogs were very thin or emaciated, Caldwell reported. Most of those with long hair were covered in matted feces, and two had to be shaved immediately to reduce health risks from the matting.

About 19 dogs had ear infections; 23 had eye problems, including ulcerations of the eye; two presented severe heart murmurs; and at least one dog had severely overgrown toenails that curved around to puncture the base of the paw, according to the court documents.

The seized animals are at the Franklin County Animal Shelter and the Animal Welfare Program is seeking permanent custody of the dogs. Champagne is scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. May 10 in Farmington District Court on that matter.

Director of Animal Welfare Liam Hughes said in a news release that his department is still working with the Franklin County District Attorney's office to decide what the next steps are in this case. He said the animals are receiving medical treatment.

Kaitlin Schroeder -- 861-9252

kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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