Authorities concerned for pet owner's wellbeing
Posted June 22, 2009 4:36 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2009 6:45 p.m. EDT
Wilson, N.C. — Wilson County animal control officers had to euthanize two dogs and three cats seized from a Wilson home last week.
Now, authorities are also concerned for the animals' owner and are trying to figure out who has jurisdiction to get her to leave the house.
Officers with the Wilson County Sheriff's Office Animal Enforcement Unit on Thursday found trash and feces throughout Ellen Hamm's residence at 412 Deans St.
They seized three cats and three dogs. All but one had serious health issues that veterinarians were forced to put the animals down.
On a return visit Friday, animal control officers found rats inside traps that were set to catch more cats. Officers also reported approximately 40 rats scurrying across the floor.
"She bought two pet rats, and they got away from her," said Wilson County sheriff's deputy Toby Myrick.
The investigation is ongoing, and Hamm, 56, has not been charged with any crime.
Authorities said they believe Hamm had good intentions but might have gotten overwhelmed taking care of the animals.
"She just cared for the animals, and she got overwhelmed," Myrick said. "She just started with one, then two and just kept going."
Because she is unwilling to leave her house, the sheriff's office is working with county agencies, including social services, the health department and the city of Wilson, to determine the best way to get her from the home.
Authorities are also working with the house's owners to determine a course of action.
"Our main concern now is to help her get out of that house and into better living conditions," Myrick said.