Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

ASPCA takes possession of animals at Lawrence County shelter

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MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) - The situation at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter just keeps getting worse by the day. Familiar yellow crime scene tape now surrounds former director Bobbie Taylor's property in Moulton. Police have cordoned off the property and are calling it a crime scene. Meanwhile, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrived to the shelter early Tuesday to help with the criminal investigation.

The ASPCA's Animal Cruelty Disaster Response vehicle arrived pulled up Wednesday morning, so the team can help with the effort of removing more than 250 animals. (Photo: David Schmidt/WHNT News 19)

The ASPCA's Animal Cruelty Disaster Response vehicle arrived pulled up Wednesday morning, so the team can help with the effort of removing more than 250 animals. (Photo: David Schmidt/WHNT News 19)

The ASPCA's Animal Cruelty Disaster Response vehicle is now on the site, to help with the process of removing more than 250 animals from the county's animal shelter.

WHNT News 19 first broke this story last week and we continue to follow the latest developments.

Police officers stood guard at the entrance as they admitted only those who are there to help with the investigation or help care for the animals.

Animal rights activist Jennifer Larder told us she was there to, "feed the dogs, water the dogs, do basically anything that they need done."

Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter said they found roughly 300 animals on the property since serving a search warrant late Monday afternoon.

"We're still executing a search warrant and it's still a crime scene. So as long as it's a crime scene, we have control," McWhorter said.

With her agreement with the Lawrence County Commission set to expire at midnight Wednesday, Taylor signed over care of the animals to the ASPCA Tuesday evening.

"By doing that we're able to go ahead and get vets on them and start taking care of their needs," said McWhorter.

He added Taylor will maintain ownership of the 10 animals that are considered her pets.

The ASPCA's team on site had two priorities throughout the day, care for the animals' immediate needs and help with the criminal investigation.

"This is a very unfortunate situation for the animals that have been forced to live like this and so the goal today is to see that suffering come to an end. But I think the bigger issue is the city and the county addressing the larger problem and making certain this type of situation doesn't happen again," said Tim Rickey, the ASPCA Vice President of Field Investigations and Response.

Officials spent hours moving some of the animals into new, bigger cages from Morgan County in order to provide better temporary living quarters for them.

"Those cages were assembled to remove them from the habitat they're in into clean cages and feed them and take care of them tonight," McWhorter said.

Moulton Police and at least 30 ASPCA personnel will return to the shelter early Wednesday to continue transferring the animals into the new cages. County officials are also working to secure a 30,000 to 50,000 square feet building to house them until the investigation is complete.

Lawrence County Commissioner Bobby Burch was at the site for several hours Tuesday. "I've said many times, (Taylor's) intentions were good but as public officials we just cannot allow something like this to continue."

Late Tuesday afternoon, an ASPCA investigator came into view carrying a very sick dog. It would be rushed to a local veterinarian in an effort to save its life. When we asked what was wrong with it, the reply was what's not wrong with it. We checked later and learned the dog did not survive, along with a handful of others, so far. Police said they will remain on site 24/7 until other arrangements are made for the animals. Chief McWhorter said until his department's investigation is complete, which is expected to take days to weeks, officials will not be able to determine if criminal charges will be filed against Taylor.

If you feel as though one of your missing dogs could be in the shelter, you should call Moulton Police. They will take down your information and compare it to the animals being removed from the shelter. The phone number to Moulton Police is (256) 974-3961.