House of Horrors

January 17, 2009 at 12:32 am 3 comments

cerberus-blake

Wm Blake's Cerberus at the Gates of Hell

The charges filed against Linda Kapsa by Yellowstone County were published in the Billings Gazette online Monday.  The information presented in the charges paints a horrific picture of neglect and mental illness. 

Warning - this post is NOT for the squamish…

When Yellowstone County Sheriff Deputies, Animal Control Officers and Veterinarian Robert Bruner arrived at the site on December 11, 2008 they were overwhelmed by the smell of urine and feces at the property.  The conditions inside the residence were horrific.  The floor “was covered in animal feces which were ground into the floor so that he [Officer Weston] could not distinguish the floor covering.”  Dr. Bruner reported that the stench of ammonia was so strong in the house that it burned his eyes and throat.  Trash was stacked to a height of up to five feet throughout the house leaving only a narrow path for one to squeeze from the back room to the kitchen.  As many as twenty-five live dogs and puppies — and at least two dead ones, were crowded into the house.  The only place they had to move — and eliminate, was that narrow pathway.

“Although it was December, there were flies throughout the kitchen”

Five of the puppies seized from the home were found to be suffering from Parvovirus.  Two of them later died.  The dead bodies of six other puppies were found in an empty dog food bad in another trash-filled trailer at the site.  The bodies of several dead dogs were also found in this trailer.  According to Dr. Bruner, some were nearly mummified.  One had been partially consumed.

Conditions were no better outdoors.  Sixty or more dogs were running at large.  Trash and dead animals were spread across the property and dogs were feeding on both.

“The ground inside the pens appeared to be covered in a black slop that ranged from a quarter of an inch deep to an inch deep and in one pen, approximately four inches deep.  Dr. Bruner noted that there was no mud on the ground in the areas outside of the pens and the slop did not appear to be normal “mud”, particularly the smell of it.”

It was a mass of urine and feces.  Dogs had matted, urine and feces encrusted coats and open sores on their bodies.  On a canine body conditioning scaleof one to nine (with one being emaciated and nine being morbidly obese), Dr. Bruner noted that all the dogs he saw were underweight, having body condition scores of 1 to 4.  Rat bait was laying out in a junk vehicle and one of the dogs seized on the 11th was suffering from the effects of having ingested it. 

Two kittens were found locked in a trash-filled barn with no water.  They had eye and ear infections that required veterinary treatment.

“In another set of pens on the Defendant’s property, the officers and Dr. Bruner observed a dog that appeared to be sleeping while standing up in two inches of  feces/urine slop.  His head was resting on the fence, his eyes were closed, and he appeared to be quivering.  He initially appeared to Dr. Brunerto be extremely ill and elderly.  When they inquired of the Defendant as to what was wrong with the dog and how old he was, she stated that he was harassed by the other dogs and was 8 months old.  This dog, Kapsa Dog #6, upon closer inspection by Dr. Brunerwas determined to be emaciated and his coat was extremely matted and clumped and a bath was necessary to get an overview of his skin and what wounds were present.”

Kapsa Dog #5 had an open, granulated leg wound that appeared to be over a month old.  The leg was swollen to four times its normal size… and the dog was found chewing on the exposed end of its broken leg.  Xrays indicated a severe, chronic bone infection and the leg was amputated.  “Dr. Bruner stated that his eight years of practice he had not seen a worse case of abuse and neglect than that of Kapsa Dog #5.”

Ten dogs and the  two kittens were seized on the 11th.  The bodies of 13 dead dogs were also removed from the property.

Deputies, animal control staff, veterinary personnel and special assistance officers returned on December 30th.  The pugs and several of the English Shepherds had been removed from the site.  The Defendant stated she had given the pugs to her daughter and the English Shepherds to ranchers.  This was a significant concern as several animals infected with Parvovirus had been removed from the site on the 11th.

Conditions at the property were as disgusting as they had been on the 11th.  Food and water bowls were filled with urine and feces —  none of them were contained food or water.  Staff conducting the seizure reported that the dogs appeared to be “ravenously hungry,” with several trying to eat bait food right through the cans.

The house was still filled with trash and feces.  The smells of urine, feces and rotting food were overwhelming.  Litters of puppies were found in a rotted hole in the floor and under the trailer.  A dead dog was lying by the bed.

The outdoor enclosures were filled with feces and urine and sharp wires were sticking out in many places.  Dogs were licking feces-covered snow to get water.  Their coats were matted and filled with feces.  Some were described as having “deadlocks.”  Many had sore, swollen pads because they had little or no protection from the cold, ice and filth.  Most of them were described as “feral.”

The bodies of several more dead dogs were removed from the site. Some had to be left behind – some were frozen to a manure pile and others were frozen to the ground under the trailers.

Injuries in the dogs that were removed included:

  • A litter of puppies with raw, infected umbilical regions
  • A matted, dirt-covered dog with a nose laceration
  • An emaciated dog (body condition  one) covered in bite wounds
  • A vomiting, feces-covered dog
  • A dehydrated, emaciated 10-week old puppy
  • An 8-week old puppy that was infested with lice and had it’s eyes matted shut
  • An emaciated dog with multiple head wounds
  • A dog with diarrhea, a fever and what appeared to be multiple fight wounds
  • A dog with a wounded carpal joint who was missing part of his upper lip

Two bitches with litters and at least ten pregnant bitches were also among the seized dogs.  Only 10 bags of food were found at the property.  The 150 dogs currently being housed at Metra Park are eating over 200 pounds of food a day. 

This is one of the most disturbing and disgusting cases of neglect and hoarding I’ve heard of.  Conditions at the site were like something out of third circle of hell in the Divine Comedy:

With pity for the kindred shades, whence grief
O’ercame me wholly, straight around I see
New torments, new tormented souls, which way
Soe’er I move, or turn, or bend my sight
In the third circle I arrive, of show’rs
Ceaseless, accursed, heavy and cold, unchang’d
For ever, in both kind and in degree
Large hail, discouler’d water, sleety flaw
Through the dun midnight air stream’d down amain:
Stank all the land whereupon that tempst fell.

Our friend — trainer and NESR representative Heather Houlahan, is working full time with the seized dogs.  Check out her blog for updates.  Excellent reporting on the case is also coming from the Billings Gazette.

Entry filed under: dogs, rescue. Tags: , , , .

Eagles in our Back Yard Heart-Warming Hype

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Luisa  |  January 17, 2009 at 3:54 am

    God bless Heather and the rest for helping these dogs.

    I’m glad you used the term “mental illness.” A person who lives in a house with five-foot high piles of garbage, the corpses of dead dogs, feces ground into every inch of flooring, and a stench strong enough to peel paint is a mentally ill person in need of help. Kapsa may be a lot of things, but she isn’t evil.

    The people I wish could be charged with something are Kapsa’s grown children. What kind of adults allow a mentally ill parent to live like that, to mistreat animals like that? “Mom lives hundreds of miles away”? Cry me a river. A nowhere-near-rich coworker of mine here in SoCal spent the better part of two years flying to West Virginia once or twice a month, to help care for her elderly parents. Kapsa’s son and daughter ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • 2. YesBiscuit!  |  January 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    O.M.G.
    I am immediately brought back to the photo of her in the local paper after the initial reporting on this case. Posing with her dogs as if to show how lovingly they were cared for. Mental illness would seem to be the only explanation that makes sense.

  • 3. Barb  |  January 22, 2009 at 4:26 am

    We seem to hear the same story over and over – hoarders who themselves live in unspeakably filthy conditions. You certainly can’t say that Kapsa lived much better than her dogs did – although she probably ate more regularly. But this sort of thing does sound like some sort of mental breakdown.

    Which is exactly why well-meaning legislation (like pet limits) intended to “prevent” hoarding can never work. Someone who is out of touch with reality enough to sleep with a dead dog next to her bed is not going to obey a law restricting her to 3 or 4 dogs.

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