By Lasca Randels
ALBION — Nine dogs are being given a new lease on life thanks to Shadarobah Horse Rescue.
The dogs were rescued last month from a property in Noble County — and a Huntertown woman is now facing more than two dozen charges of cruelty to an animal.
According to information in the affidavit of probable cause, on Sept. 1, Noble County Communications received a call from a man who resides on Baseline Road in Albion, who reported that there were two dead puppies on his property and that his tenant, later identified as Darleen D. Cervantes, owned the dogs. The man said Cervantes had numerous dogs on the property and was not taking care of them.
Sgt. Whitney D’Angello of the Noble County Sheriff’s Office went to the location in Albion and spoke with the property owner and a woman.
The property owner said he allowed Cervantes to set up a camper on the property in February or March of 2023 in exchange for monthly rent. Cervantes was reportedly allowed to bring 12 dogs. Around June, the man said Cervantes began bringing more dogs to the property.
The man said Cervantes was “borderline” about caring for the dogs and that he and the woman became concerned because the dogs were “real skinny.” The woman said she spoke with Cervantes in July about the care and condition of the animals and questioned her about feeding them. According to the woman, Cervantes told her that it was heat and stress causing the dogs to lose weight. The woman also said multiple dogs were being crated together and that some were being kept in crates all the time and never let out.
The man said Cervantes was supposed to be residing on the property in the camper but that she had not been staying there for about two weeks.
Based on the information provided, Sgt. D’Angello applied for, and was granted, a search warrant to enter the barn and shed on the property in order to assess the condition of the animals owned by Cervantes.
Upon searching the property, a chain link fence kennel, approximately 10 feet x 10 feet, was found next to the gray shed and camper. In the chain link fence kennel, there was no food or water present. There was feces in the kennel and what appeared to be blood. Two dogs were being kept in the kennel.
Inside the gray shed, there was a fan blowing but all doors and windows were closed and it was very warm. There were several animal cages in the shed. One contained a very thin red fox. A raccoon was being kept in a large bird cage. There were two kennels stacked on top of each other. The top kennel contained a sick-looking silver/gray fox and the bottom kennel contained a female bulldog. A male Labrador mix was being kept in another small kennel. An additional kennel contained a female Belgian Malinois. All kennels had feces in them, and there was no food or water available to any of the animals.
Two conservation officers arrived at the scene later that morning. They advised that Cervantes previously had a permit for one fox, but the permit expired in January 2022. Currently, Cervantes does not have a permit for any wildlife.
The conservation officers made contact with Northern Indiana Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation and requested that they take possession of the foxes and raccoon due to the poor condition of the animals and the lack of proper permits.
Multiple dogs and puppies were found inside the red barn. Two deceased male puppies were found, as well as one female puppy who was alive but appeared very lethargic. The woman advised that when she checked on them earlier that morning, all the puppies were piled together and that the living puppies were laying on the dead ones.
Shelly Chavis, a veterinarian with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, was called to do an assessment of the animals. Chavis believed that some of the puppies had canine parvovirus.
Sgt. D’Angello requested assistance from the Humane Society of Noble County and volunteers with Shadarobah.
In total, authorities found 28 dogs on the property, along with the two foxes and the raccoon.
Shadarobah took in 11 of those dogs. Sadly, two of the dogs later passed away. Another dog, Phoenix, was being kept in medical quarantine for parvovirus but was released from quarantine Saturday, Oct. 7.
According to a representative of Shadarobah, one of the rescued dogs, a two-year-old Pitbull mix named Toad, was kept in a kennel that was too small for him to even fully stand up. As a result, he now suffers from joint pain.
Romeo, an energetic Border Collie mix, has a dislike for small animals but is otherwise very loving. He has been enrolled in Flying Colors Canine Academy, Inc. to give him a strong foundation for his new owners.
Gerti, a female Rottweiler mix, had five puppies. One of her babies did not make it. Two of her remaining pups, Bernadette and Pistol Annie, will be available for adoption in November. The other two have been spoken for.
A Shadarobah representative said, “Gerti will send her final litter off to their forever homes before she heads off to her own forever home with the best couple that have lots of space to play.”
Shadarobah has spent approximately $4,500 on veterinary care for the rescued dogs they took in. Additional medications will be needed for some of the rescued dogs. Donations would be very much appreciated.
The following statement was sent to InkFreeNews from Shadarobah:
“Noble County law enforcement, the state vet and Shadarobah keep a strong bond in the battle against neglect, so when a warrant was obtained on a welfare check we were one of the first on the road to come help. Sgt. Whitney D’Angello of the Noble County Sheriff’s Department has always been a strong advocate for those without a voice, and although we hate the circumstances, working with officers such as herself ease the situation. We commend her and all of Noble County law and the state vet for their continued work to save the voiceless.”
Cervantes, age 54, has been charged with 26 counts of cruelty to an animal, all class A misdemeanors.
To make a donation to Shadarobah, you can contact the organization via email: [email protected]; by PayPal: [email protected]; by check to Shadarobah Horse Rescue, P.O. Box 15323, Fort Wayne, IN 46885; or through their webpage at http://www.shadarobah.com/donatefundraisers.html