SALEM, Ore. - Police arrested a third person in connection to the over 140 neglected dogs that were seized from an animal rescue facility in Marion County.
The dogs removed from Willamette Valley Animal Rescue in Brooks are still considered 'evidence' and will not be up for adoption anytime soon, if at all.
Investigators said most of the animals were suffering from neglect, were malnourished and were being kept in filthy and overcrowded conditions.
Saturday, Marion county sheriff's deputies arrested Merissa Noonan, 21, of Woodburn in connection with the abuse. Noonan surrendered at the Marion County Jail, deputies said. She faces 149 counts of animal neglect.
Police initially arrested Alicia Inglish, 24, was arrested and charged with 120 counts of animal neglect and one count of tampering with evidence.
On Friday, police arrested Amanda Noelle Oakley as a second person involved in the abuse. She was charged with 149 counts of animal neglect and lodged at the Marion County jail.
Oakley served as the secretary and board member for the facility until she resigned on Jan. 10, or three days before police served a search warrant of the facility.
The facility drew attention after a worker with the Oregon Humane Society received reports of problems with an adoption of a dog and was told that the place seemed more like a hoarding situation.
Code enforcement officers tried to work with the rescue facility to resolve the complaints but received no cooperation from those running the rescue organization. The facility also refused to work with the Oregon Humane Society. That's when the sheriff's office stepped in to remove the dogs.
Don Thomson, spokesperson for the Marion County Sheriff's Office, said that it appeared that many of the dogs were fed stale bread. Elsewhere on the property, dogs ran free or huddled in small runs and the facility itself was fouled with feces and urine.
"Many of the dogs appeared to be extremely underweight and suffering from starvation and malnutrition," Thomson said. "Others appeared sick and some had their eyes sealed shut with body fluids."
Thomson said more arrests are expected as the investigation progresses.
Officials have named Merissa Marie Noonan, 21 of Salem, as a third suspect in the neglect case, citing probable cause. Sheriff's deputies said that they have been unable to find Noonan during their investigation.
Police describe Noonan as a white female, 5 foot, 7inches, 150 pounds, with light brown wavy shoulder length hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact Deputy Huitt at email@example.com or call the Marion County Sheriff's Office (refer to MCSO case# 13-00324).
The sheriff's office said they have received a number of inquiries about the dogs and whether they will be up for adoption. Right now, the dogs are part of the investigation and adoptions are not open.
Thomson said that he is unsure of what will become of the dogs. The dogs could be available in a few weeks or months, or not at all, he said.
Those who want to help out in some way can donate to the organizations involved in the care of the dogs.
Those who have adopted a dog from Willamette Valley Animal Rescue in the past are asked to call Thomson at (503) 932-8002 or send him an email at Dthomson@co.marion.or.us.
If you were in the process of adopting one of the dogs that was seized, contact the Oregon Humane Society, the Willamette Humane Society and/or Marion County Dog Control to see if the dog you were adopting is still available. At that point, you will be required to follow the organization's regular adoption process.
Many folks have been wondering whether there are laws requiring inspections of rescue facilities. The sheriff's office said there is no specific law that authorizes such inspections, but the Oregon law dealing with neglect and/or animal abuse requires that animals be provided four things by individuals or organizations:
- Adequate food and water
- Adequate space for exercise
- A reasonably clean living area, free of excess waste
- An environment with air temperature suitable for the animal