MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) - Police in Moulton spent most of the day Monday waiting on a search warrant to enable them to go through the Lawrence County Animal Shelter. It's part of their on-going investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect at the hands of shelter operator, Bobbie Taylor. Investigators went to the shelter, located at Taylor's residence, on County Road 170 Monday morning "to count the dogs" but say Taylor insisted they obtain a search warrant first. So they did.
Police were stationed at the shelter throughout the afternoon awaiting the warrant. It was finally served just after 5:30 Monday afternoon, and four hours later police were still on the scene. Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter says they'll probably be there most of the night and through the day (Tuesday).
"It's worse than we ever could have imagined it might be," McWhorter said.
Last week, Taylor told authorities, as well as WHNT News 19, that there were 83 dogs on the property. McWhorter said late Monday night they had counted almost 250 animals.
When WHNT News 19 went to Taylor's home last week, we observed animals inside her house. McWhorter did not have immediate access to the number of animals found inside Taylor's home, but says the conditions inside were such that investigators were forced to wear protective clothing and a bottled air breathing device for their own protection.
Taylor was under contract with the Lawrence County Commission to provide and operate an animal shelter and provide for an animal control officer until Friday afternoon when commissioners voted 3-to-2 during an emergency meeting to cancel the $80,000 a year contract. While several commissioners discussed allowing various animal rescue agencies take the animals currently at the shelter, police cautioned none of the dogs should be removed from the facility until they complete their investigation. Over the weekend, investigators confirm they, as did WHNT News 19, received several reports that animals were being removed from the property and taken to an unknown location. When contacted by WHNT News 19 late Friday afternoon, Taylor denied any animals had been removed.
A number of animal rights activists were also parked on the road outside the property much of the afternoon Monday. Katie Toro tells us she is trying to build a database of missing animals to compare to the animals in Taylor's shelter. "Anyone who has a missing animal and they feel that it may be here at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter please email your pet's picture, information on the pet and the missing date," Toro urged. The email address is: email@example.com. Toro explained they are establishing the database because she says so many people have complained they were not allowed to look for a missing pet at the shelter.
Earlier Monday afternoon, WHNT News 19 learned a group of protestors planned to march from Walmart on Highway 157 in Moulton to the Lawrence County Commission offices Tuesday afternoon in support of Taylor and her ongoing efforts to establish a no-kill animal shelter. We have been unable to learn whether the latest developments may have altered those plans.
WHNT News 19 broke this story last Wednesday at 10PM with video secretly recorded showing Taylor striking a penned dog. Taylor explained she was trying to break up a fight between two dogs. However Caleb Scott, who recorded the video and provided a copy to WHNT News 19 says the dogs were hungry and began to fight as they entered the pen to feed them. It was Scott who filed the police report against Taylor alleging abuse and neglect at the shelter. Taylor told us Scott was a disgruntled former employee and part of a conspiracy against her. Scott maintains he never worked for Taylor but had volunteered for two days when the video was recorded. Taylor told us she did not have any paperwork indicating Scott was an employee because he was to be paid in cash.
Scott also provided WHNT News 19 with images of waste in some of the dog pens and images of at least one emaciated dog lying in a small pen. Taylor told us the dog had arrived in that condition and that she had used intravenous fluids and fed the animal with a dropper in order to keep it alive. Ashley Kerby says she recognized the emaciated animal in Wednesday night's initial report as her pet, "Addy," that had been missing for over a year. She says when she went to the shelter Thursday morning, workers couldn't locate the dog. She says Taylor arrived a short time later and first denied having the animal. Kerby says Addy was hidden in the back of the intake area behind several other cages. She says Taylor allowed her to take the dog but told her she had, "better not turn up on the news." On Friday, WHNT News 19 received photos purporting to show Addy at the shelter several months ago in a much healthier condition than when she was rescued from the shelter.
Addy spent four days at the vet undergoing treatment for several serious infections. She was released Monday afternoon. Kerby says, "She's not out of the woods yet, but a lot better than she was."