Dr. Kyle Shipman, field operations director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, and Madison Jefferson County Animal Shelter Director Jenny Slover checks the condition of a rabbit from the Vickie Gorrell property Tuesday. (Madison Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Dr. Kyle Shipman, field operations director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, and Madison Jefferson County Animal Shelter Director Jenny Slover checks the condition of a rabbit from the Vickie Gorrell property Tuesday. (Madison Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)
The dozens of dogs and other animals removed from a Jefferson County property Tuesday still were being evaluated and cared for Wednesday while the owner of the property appeared in Jefferson County Superior Court on charges of animal neglect.
Vickie Gorrell, 59, of Madison, was arrested Tuesday on two counts of neglect of an invertebrate animal, both Class A misdemeanors, in connection with two malnourished pit bull cross dogs who were removed from her property Jan. 15. However, she could face additional charges pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.
Gorrell appeared before Jefferson County Magistrate Nancy Jacobs Tuesday, who heard testimony by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Detective Yancy Denning before agreeing to release Gorrell from jail on her own recognizance with conditions that she undergo a mental health evaluation; appear for all court dates; not possess, harbor or care for any vertebrate animal; not register as a dog breeder; allow pretrial or other officers of the court to inspect her home and property to ensure compliance and that all animals seized from her property reside with and remain in the care of the state.
Her pretrial date was set for March 17 and a public defender was appointed to represent her.
Jefferson County Prosecutor David Sutter released some details of the case earlier Wednesday before the Superior Court hearing. Below are some of the details from Sutter’s news release:
• The multi-agency investigation into allegations of animal neglect began when a complaint was received on Jan. 6. Jefferson County Animal Control initiated the investigation and contacted the Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) for assistance with local animal control officer Paul Geyman, Dr. Katelyn Macy, BOAH field veterinarian for District 9, and Matt Siedling, an animal specialist with the agency, visited the property on Jan. 15.
• Several concerns were documented as a result of that visit. Investigators found 55 dogs present at the time of inspection, 12 of which were below normal body condition, including seven in thin body condition and five in very thin body condition. Of the five in very thin, emaciated body condition, two dogs were considered to be in immediate jeopardy and were impounded by law enforcement. “The body condition of the thin to emaciated dogs indicates the dogs have not received adequate energy intake in the form of adequate food supply for some time,” Macy said in her report.
• The investigation also identified a lack of clean drinking water with one dog showing signs consistent with very serious dehydration. In addition, most of the animal pens did not have any bedding, and the dogs were housed on dirt/mud with excessive feces present. Smaller dogs were found housed on plywood floors covered in mud and feces. A dead rat was present inside an enclosure and three animals were found to have wounds, eye, and skin conditions in need of evaluation by a veterinarian.
• Although state veterinarians were able to conduct a visual evaluation of most of the animals, they were unable to handle all of the animals after being advised that some would bite. In addition to the more than 50 dogs found, there were pot-bellied pigs, chickens, a goat, and cats observed on the property.
• Macy’s report expressed concern for Gorrell’s ability to have animals under her care while the case is pending. “The totality of circumstances surrounding the condition of the animals owned by Ms. Gorrell appears to demonstrate a pattern of disregard for the safety and well-being of these animals. Therefore, I believe that there is sufficient evidence to find that all dogs on the property are in jeopardy. Placement of the dogs under the temporary care of animal control or a foster organization during the bond period, with an additional prohibition on possession/acquisition of additional animals, may be an appropriate measure to ensure the best interest of the animals,” Macy said.

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