July 11, 2012 in City, News

Charges filed in Hillyard animal cruelty case

From staff reports
 
Picture story: Animals taken from Hillyard home
Jesse Tinsley photo

Laneva Marsha Erskine, center, learns about the confiscation of her many animals from a SpokAnimal officer, left, in during a search at her Hillyard home in February.
(Full-size photo)

A Spokane woman who had 50 dogs and cats packed into a squalid bungalow in Hillyard has been charged with animal cruelty.

Laneva Marsha Erskine, 57, faces nine misdemeanor charges stemming from a February raid at her home at 3622 E. Crown Ave. in which workers wore hazardous material suits and respirators to combat the heavy stench.

“We want our community to know that we will prosecute such cases,” said Assistant City Prosecutor Matthew Folsom in a prepared statement released today. “Mistreating animals won’t be tolerated.”

The tiny home was built in 1929 and has just 288 square feet of space upstairs. Most of the animals were confined to stacked cages. Some were kept in the dark with insufficient ventilation, and many had burns caused by urine and other physical problems, according to a City of Spokane news release.

SpokAnimal has been fielding complaints about Erskine for at least 28 years.

Erskine said her elderly husband was hospitalized with a broken leg and she didn’t have time to clean up the home. She said the cats were strays that she couldn’t afford to take to SpokAnimal and pay a fee.

The nine misdemeanor charges filed against Erskine allege she neglected nine cats by failing to provide them with food, water, shelter, rest, sanitation, ventilation space or medical attention.

The charges allege the animals suffered severe dehydration, weight loss, curled toenails and severe flea infestations, as well as upper respiratory infections and hair loss.


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