YUBA CITY, Calif. (CBS13) — Authorities are investigating whether the startling number of animal deaths at a county shelter can be considered evidence of criminal abuse and negligence.
According to a grand jury report, about two-thirds of the cats and one-third of the dogs brought into the care of the Sutter County Animal Shelter die from sickness, and conditions for the animals are extremely poor: Rotting food, a lack of medical treatment and rat infestations are just some of the problems listed.
CBS13 was invited to see the problems in October and found rats nibbling and peeking out of the walls, and reports of difficulties at the shelter have been coming for at least four years.
In the past, representatives blamed poor funding for their conditions and hope to eventually move to a new facility, but the relocation project is still only being discussed.
No representatives from the shelter returned our calls Monday.
Sheriff J. Paul Parker is well aware of the dire reports and said his department is investigating whether the people who run it are committing a crime by abusing animals with what he calls deliberate indifference.
“You have to know what you’re doing and purposefully not take action,” Parker said.
The shelter can’t be shut down immediately because the county has no place to send the displaced animals.