Big fines for woman who abandoned thirty dogs

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A Jurupa Valley woman who allegedly abandoned 30 dogs and a cat inside a house from which she was evicted is facing about $20,000 in fines, a Riverside County official said today.

Patricia Hellyer, 57, was leasing a single-story residence in the 5500 block of Tilton Avenue where Department of Animal Services officers seized Chihuahua mixes, between six months and two-years-old, a 12-year-old female German shepherd and a poodle mix -- the latter plagued with "severely matted" hair and covered in filth -- according to animal services spokesman John Welsh.

The June 13 seizure occurred after a contractor sent to make repairs at
the home found the animals, most of them pinned in makeshift cages inside a
small kitchen.  All but the German shepherd were unaltered, according to Welsh. 

"These animals were left behind like trash," said Department of Animal
Services Director Robert Miller. "It was shameful. But we have legal ways of
making those who think they can just walk away, be held accountable. Not only
can they not walk away, they'll eventually have to pay."

Hellyer was identified during a follow-up investigation that led to Preston & Simons mortuary on Mission Inn Avenue in Riverside, where Hellyer's adult son is employed, Welsh said. He said animal control officers visited the location, found the young man and notified him of the citations that his mother owed. The tickets include failure to vaccinate each dog for rabies, failure to license and microchip each dog and failure to obtain a kennel permit for having more than four canines on a property -- a requirement in Jurupa Valley.

The fines total $12,000, and another $8,000 in impound fees is owed, Welsh said, adding that the latter fees inflate every day that the animals are housed at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter at 6851 Van Buren Blvd.  "We think this incident illustrates that we're going to pursue all leads and make sure that people know that they just can't walk away from animals without suffering the consequences," Miller said.

Hellyer has until Sunday to legally reclaim the pets, but animal services officials are almost certain she won't bother.  If she doesn't pay anything toward the penalties, the county will put her in collection, according to Welsh.

He said the abandoned pets seem to be in reasonably good health and all will
be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped. Some of the dogs will be made available for adoption beginning next week at the animal shelter, while others will be transferred to rescue groups with which the Department of Animal Services coordinates to find good homes for lost or discarded pets.

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