(Apple Valley)– In early April 2015, Apple Valley Animal Services conducted a routine follow-up on a dog license violation on the 16000 block of Rimrock Road. Animal services officers became concerned when Sherre Kay Buell, the woman contacted the month prior, began acting suspiciously and quickly went inside her house. Officers were eventually able to gain access into the home and in two days, thirteen dogs were removed. All but one of the dogs appeared to be severely emaciated.
Animal services officers were initially told that three of the severely emaciated, non-ambulatory dogs were seniors on hospice. Buell shared with AVAS officers that she was working for various animal rescue organizations as a transporter and foster. The AVAS officers convinced Ms. Buell to relinquish the three dogs in order to take them to the Town’s supervising veterinarian for examination. The diagnosis of starvation prompted the removal of all of the dogs from Ms. Buell’s property.
News of the dogs being seized out of Ms. Buell’s home quickly spread and the Town began receiving numerous calls from various individuals and animal rescue organizations desperately trying to locate their dogs. This week, Apple Valley Animal Services and St. Martin’s Animal Foundation celebrated the life saving efforts that made it possible for DJ to go home and live out his remaining years being loved. St. Martin’s Animal Foundation also agreed to provide a loving home for Princess aka Gracie who flourished under the care of the Town’s medical staff. The investigation related to Princess and her original rescue from an animal shelter out of the area is ongoing.
This celebration did not come easy. Initially AVAS and St. Martin’s seemed polarized regarding the release of DJ, a senior male boxer mixed-breed dog that was seized with the other dogs in April. Thanks to the efforts of Kris Kelly, founder of The Kris Kelly Foundation, Sky Valencia, founder of St. Martin’s Animal Foundation and Gina Schwin-Whiteside, Animal Services Manager, met earlier this week for more than five hours regarding DJ and how he ended up in Apple Valley.
“I was initially under the impression that DJ had been seized with other dogs because Kay had too many dogs on the property,” shared Sky Valencia, founder of St. Martin’s Animal Foundation. “Kay did not offer us a lot of information. This caused confusion and concern for DJ’s welfare, who was only being boarded by Kay. My foundation originally thought DJ was picked up in early March. Making matters worse, there were several animal rescue organizations looking for dogs seized from Kay in Hesperia at the end of January.”
As previously reported by Apple Valley Animal Services, one of the relinquished dogs died while being transported to the veterinarian and the other two dogs were euthanized because of their severely compromised health. The diagnosis was starvation, which prompted the removal of all of the remaining dogs from the property. Ms. Buell had told Animal Services officers that she was transporting or fostering senior and hospice dogs recently acquired by various animal rescue organizations. Prior to taking the three relinquished dogs to the veterinarian, AVAS officers advised Buell that she needed to provide medical paperwork on the other dogs in her care and the contact information for the animal rescue organizations she was helping.
“Understandably, both sides were being protective of the dogs,” said Gina Schwin-Whiteside, Animal Services Manager. “We believe that misinformation provided by our primary suspect created confusion for animal rescue organizations desperately trying to find their animals. We were able to work through the confusion and are united in gathering the evidence needed for the District Attorney to file charges against those responsible for abusing these dogs.”
“We are grateful for the support we are receiving from all of the animal rescue organizations that have animals related to this case.”
AVAS is hoping to release more of the surviving dogs by the end of this week or early next week.
Anyone with information on this investigation can contact the Town’s Municipal Animal Shelter at 22131 Powhatan Road, Tuesday – Saturday from 9am to 4pm or by calling (760) 240-7000 Ext. 7555. AVAS can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.