97 Eastlake Animal Rescue Center pets kept in ‘deplorable’ conditions removed by police; owner says it’s a ‘money grab’ (photos)

Police said they could smell ammonia before they were even in the building.

Shelter under scrutiny, denies abuse

EASTLAKE, OH (WOIO) -Eastlake police raided the Animal Rescue Center on Vine Street May 2 and shared photos of what they called “deplorable” conditions for 34 dogs and 63 cats that were taken to the Lake Humane Society.

Police said many of the dogs were limping on the way out of the building and humane society employees carried several of them out.

The Lake Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report.

Every time they would do an inspection it had to be announced, which they claim in the report, gave the owner time to “clean the establishment or move sick animals.”

This time officials said they used an informant to get enough evidence to take to a Lake County judge, who granted the search warrant for yesterday’s raid.

“A strong odor of ammonia and feces came from within the building" before officers were even inside, according to the report.

A woman who answered the door tried to keep officers out, and closed the door behind her and locked it, officials said.

The Lake County Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report.
The Lake County Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report. (Source: Eastlake Police Department)

The report reflects she wanted to contact her director and an attorney.

Police explained they had a probable cause search warrant and didn’t need to wait for the attorney, and the women eventually let them in the building.

“Walking through the facility, it was confirmed there was fecal matter and urine on the floors," the report states. "The floors were sticky.”

In the report, officers said multiple dogs were in single cages and stacked on top of each other.

The Lake County Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report.
The Lake County Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report. (Source: Eastlake Police Department)

“The kennels had urine soaked newspaper or cardboard and most animals did not have food or water in their bowls," police said.

The search continued into a room housing several cats.

“Some of these cats were observed to have what appeared to be respiratory issues. The cats would breath through their mouths instead of their nostrils as they would normally do when they are healthy. There were cats that had what appeared to be green puss surrounding the eyes,” the police report said.

Nadine Betchel, owner of the Animal Rescue Center, refutes all of the claims in the report.

The Lake County Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report.
The Lake County Humane Society received several complaints about the conditions at the Animal Rescue Center dating back to 2011, according to a police report. (Source: Eastlake Police Department)

“They have been trying to shut us down for 13 years,” Betchel said. “They’ve been in here several times and never found anything wrong.”

Betchel said some of those occasions were by appointment, but that at least one was a spot check looking to see if the animals were being fed.

As for why cages were found with no food or water Betchel said, “When we open for the public, we take away the food and water because we know the animals will be taken in and out of the cages and they will spill it and we have a mess to clean up.”

Betchel addressed the officer’s observation that it smelled like feces and ammonium just outside the door of the center.

“If you were close to the door, yeah. You can clean them [cages], but 10 minutes later they’re dirty again. We can’t put corks in their butts,” she said.

Betchel accused the raid of being a “money grab” by the humane society who will use the situation to get emergency grants and donations from the public.

“I hate calling anyone out like that but we should all be working together," Betchel said.

19 News spoke to a few volunteers about the raid and the comments in the police report. They went on camera, but wouldn’t give their names. We asked, “So, you saw nothing that would indicate animal abuse or neglect? The woman replied, “Absolutely not.” Another volunteer said, “I wouldn't be spending my time trying to help these animals if I thought they were being abused.”

A woman and her family who volunteer there on Thursdays, the day of the raid, says their job is to clean up after the animals and feed them. She said, “If they’d come a couple of hours later, it would have been a different story We probably have to clean the cages of the pups three or four times before we even walk out.”

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