A pair of Kootenai County residents face 21 counts of animal cruelty after law officers found a menagerie of emaciated animals – including dogs, cats, guinea pigs and two whitetail deer – living inside their double-wide trailer home.
When officers arrived at the mobile home Thursday to follow up on a previous report of animal abuse, they spotted a scrawny horse in a small dirt pasture near the home, according to a Kootenai County sheriff’s report. The horse’s rib and hip bones were protruding, and the animal had no water in its trough.
But it wasn’t until the officers went inside the trailer near the intersection of Loffs Bay and West Crescent Bay roads that they realized the extent of the trouble: Deer were living in the bedrooms, a teenage girl was covered in skin rashes, and portions of the floor had rotted through from urine, according to the report.
The couple face criminal charges but have not been arrested, according to the police report. Their names were redacted from a copy of the report released by the Sheriff’s Office.
The officers said they were hit with an “overwhelming odor of feces and ammonia” when they approached the trailer to inquire about the horse. The only person at home, a 16-year-old girl, met them at the door wearing stained clothes and had a rash on her skin. The officers noticed feces, urine, dogs and insects throughout the dwelling.
Although the girl said she was home alone, officers heard movement from bedrooms in the trailer. They opened the door to the girl’s mother’s bedroom and found a fully grown whitetail deer “jumping frantically around the room.” The doe was missing fur on its back and sides, and its hooves were overgrown to the point they curled back on themselves.
The girl said the deer, named Bambi, had been found in the woods four years ago and had been living in the room since. Also living in the room was a one-eyed calico cat, which officers found perched high on a piece of furniture to avoid the deer. The floor of the room had rotted through from urine.
A yearling whitetail deer named Belle and a rabbit were living in another bedroom.
Shortly after officers discovered the animals, the girl’s parents arrived home. The mother was distraught, saying she didn’t have enough money to care for the animals. The woman also said she was trying to leave her husband. The man blamed the situation on the officers, telling them, “You are ruining my life,” according to the police report.
Officers seized 13 dogs, two cats, four guinea pigs, one rabbit, two deer and the horse. The animals were taken to shelters, except for a cocker spaniel that had to be euthanized because it was suffering from various ailments, including dental disease, tapeworms, infections and fleas, the Sheriff’s Department said.
The horse is being cared for by Panhandle Equine Rescue and is receiving a steady supply of food and water, said Ken Rickel, who works with the group. “He’s doing fine,” Rickel said. “He’s underweight, but he’s doing fine.”