More than 200 Animals Rescued from Alleged Hoarder in Franklin County
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August 3, 2004

More than 200 Animals Rescued from Alleged Hoarder in Franklin County

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

St. Louis, MO The Franklin County Sheriff's Department served a warrant this morning to a woman in her 60s who was keeping more than 200 animals on her 22-acre property in St. Clair, Missouri. The sheriff's department, with the aid of the Humane Society of Missouri, is rescuing the animals: more than 130 dogs, two horses, a mule and nearly 100 cats. Humane Society of Missouri investigators have also found bodies of several dead animals.

Photos and information from an anonymous source led the Humane Society of Missouri investigators to the property where animals were being kept in the deplorable conditions. The entire perimeter of the property is lined with pens, with dogs in cages so small, some cannot stand. Four of the five buildings on the property are filled with animals in cages with floors covered with feces, old food and garbage. Cat cages are stacked four cages high. The area where the horses and mule are kept is also filled with feces six inches deep in some places. Investigators are finding dogs with tumors as large as baseballs.

The conditions on the property are making it difficult for rescuers to get a visual of all the animals on the property. In some places the weeds are 10 ft. high. The weeds are so overgrown that we can hear dogs but we can't see them, says Debbie Hill, director of operations for the Humane Society of Missouri. Snakes and rats are hampering rescue efforts even further. Our investigators have to be careful as they canvass the property and rescue the animals. Rats are literally running across our feet, says Hill.

The rescued dogs and cats will be taken to the Humane Society of Missouri Headquarters in St. Louis where they will receive immediate emergency medical attention and ongoing care. The horses and mule will be taken to the Humane Society of Missouri's Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union. A disposition hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 18 at 9 a.m. to determine if the animals will be placed in the permanent custody of the Humane Society of Missouri or returned to the owner.

Ways you can help:

  • Anyone wishing to give a permanent home to the rescued pets when they are healthy enough to be adopted should call (314) 802-5712 or e-mail us.
  • To make a financial donation to offset the cost of rehabilitating these animals, please call (314) 951-1542 or donate securely online.
  • Report animal abuse and neglect.
  • Please spay or neuter your pets.
  • Please adopt your pet from an animal shelter or rescue group.
  • If you were considering adopting a pet this summer, now would be a great time to do it. By adopting a dog or cat from the Humane Society of Missouri, you will free up space needed to house these additional animals.
  • If you live outside the St. Louis area, please always remember your nearest animal shelter.

Please note: The Macklind Ave. Adoption Center will be closed on Wednesday, August 4 so that staff can tend to the 200+ new arrivals. Please visit our Maryland Heights Adoption Center and adopt your new best friend.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

This morning, the 115 dogs and 83 cats awoke in the care of Humane Society of Missouri staff in St. Louis and Maryland Heights. The rescued farm animals two horses, a donkey, a duck, a goose and a guinea fowl are recovering at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union.

Yesterday's emergency triage care included fluids to fight dehydration. Today the rescued animals are receiving detailed veterinary examinations so that individual treatment plans can be prescribed. Treatment often includes shaving the animals to remove overgrown matted fur, allowing tumors and skin problems to become visible.

In general, Dr. Mark Wright is observing health conditions that could have been prevented had the dogs and cats been properly cared for conditions such as worms and other internal parasites, external parasites such as fleas and ticks, ear infections, dental disease and overgrown nails. We have many geriatric dogs with cancer and many suffering from chronic arthritis pain, reports Dr. Wright.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Dr. Wright reports that the rescued animals are already improving. The pets received flea and tick medicine which is causing dead fleas to fall off by the hundreds. The senior dogs have been given pain medication for their arthritis. Wounds have been cleaned, antibiotics have been given to the pets with infections and everyone has been vaccinated. Bathing will begin soon!


Fifty-five Additional Animals Rescued From New Location, Same Alleged Hoarder

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More Animals Arrive! Just when staff and volunteers were beginning to get a handle on caring for the sudden influx of 200 pets in addition to the pets available for adoption, an additional 55 pets from the same alleged hoarder are rescued from an apartment in Union, Missouri.

Continuing their investigation over the weekend, the Union Police Department located a second location for the woman involved in the alleged hoarding situation on August 3 where 204 animals were rescued by the Humane Society of Missouri from a 22-acre property in St. Clair, Missouri.

Upon investigating her residence at an apartment complex in Union, officials found Probable Cause to secure a second search warrant. Officer Kevin Anderson of the Union Police Department served the warrant Monday afternoon. Once inside the one-bedroom apartment, Humane Society of Missouri investigators and local police encountered 55 pets in carriers stacked floor-to-ceiling and an overpowering stench. Union police officers requested that the Humane Society of Missouri rescue the 54 cats and one dog found inside.

The pets were brought to the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis. They received immediate medical attention and will continue to receive ongoing care.

Monday, August 16, 2004 Upon arriving to the Franklin County Court House for today's disposition hearing, Humane Society of Missouri Investigator Earlene Cole, Investigator Brett Huff and Dr. Donald Bridges learned that the dates of the hearings had been postponed.

The disposition hearing to determine if the second group of rescued pets will be awarded to the Humane Society of Missouri or returned to the owner is now scheduled for Thursday, August 19, 2004. The disposition hearing for the initial group of 204 animals is scheduled for Friday, August 20, 2004.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Owner Surrenders Animals to Humane Society of Missouri

The Humane Society of Missouri has received custody of all of the animals recently rescued from Franklin County, Missouri. The owner involved in the incident, Gloria Sutter, surrendered the animals before a disposition hearing was held. Currently the animals are receiving medical care and one-on-one attention from the Humane Society of Missouri staff and volunteers. The total cost of caring for the animals has already exceeded $80,000.

"We are relieved that the animals have been surrendered and that none of them will have to return to their previous living conditions, says Kathy Warnick, President of the Humane Society of Missouri. That means that, as they return to good health and become more socialized, they will be put up for adoption.

The remaining challenge is to ensure that this situation never happens again. The Humane Society of Missouri will advocate to the Franklin County prosecuting attorney, Robert E. Parks, that the individual not be allowed any future interactions with animals. Charges are currently pending against Sutter; the prosecuting attorney's office will determine if any charges will be filed.



Thursday , September 2, 2004 - Noon until 7 p.m.

Humane Society of Missouri , 1201 Macklind Avenue in St. Louis

Humane Society of Missouri veterinarians, adoption center staff and behavior/training professionals will be available to answer questions. Rescued animals will continue to be available for adoption after Sept. 2, 2004.

Most of the dogs are mixed breeds, medium to large in size. The cats generally are short-haired and long-haired domestics.

Regular adoption fees of $85 for dogs, $75 for kittens and $65 for adult cats will apply. Fees include spay or neuter surgery and an initial battery of vaccinations. Booster shots and annual veterinarian visits are required and are adopter's financial responsibility.

Please remember that these animals were rescued from a neglectful situation and have never been traditional pets. Great care will be taken to place these special-needs animals in patient and understanding households.

To adopt the rescued pony, mule, Guinea fowl or duck recuperating at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch, please contact the ranch at (636) 583-8759 or via e-mail and request an adoption application

Monday, August 30, 2004

Charges Filed

A Franklin County grand jury has charged Gloria Sutter of Union (from whom these 260 animals were rescued) with six counts of misdemeanor animal abuse and two counts of failure to dispose of a dead animal. Sutter's bond will be set for $5,000 once she surrenders herself to Franklin County authorities.

It is expected that the cost of rescuing and rehabilitating these pets will exceed $100,000. To make a financial donation to offset this cost, please call (314) 951-1542 or donate securely online. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Some Rescued Pets Still Waiting for Homes

It's been nearly a month since the dogs and cats rescued from Franklin County had their big adoption day. Many pets found homes that day but some are still waiting to meet their match. Visit our Featured Pets page or meet them in person at 1201 Macklind Avenue in St. Louis to see if one of these pets is right for you.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Alleged Hoarder Sentenced

Gloria Sutter entered an Alford plea on six counts of animal abuse and two counts of failure to properly dispose of a dead animal, stemming from the Humane Society of Missouri's rescue of more than 250 animals from her properties in Franklin County in August. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit to the act but admits that the prosecution could likely present sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

Judge Cynthia Eckelkamp sentenced Sutter to a suspended jail time of 180 days and two years supervised probation. The judge also imposed the maximum fine of $8,000 and ordered Sutter to pay court costs. The sentence also mandates that Sutter may not own, harbor or live with any animals and that she receive mandatory counseling with an expert in hoarding.

Caring for homeless pets is an exhausting job filled with good days and bad. This particular rescue has been exceptionally draining - both physically and emotionally - on staff and volunteers. Everyone at the Humane Society of Missouri is so very grateful to the community for your support during this extraordinary time. Thank you!

As always, if this website is reaching you outside the St. Louis area, please remember the animals, staff and volunteers at your nearest animal shelter.

These rescued pets were removed from an alleged hoarder. What is "animal hoarding?" Read what researchers at Tufts University say.