April 20, 2021

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affection for others

Woman charged for deplorable animal conditions | Local News



Police seize neglected dogs, snakes, other pets

State police say charges are pending against residents of a Washington Township mobile home …

Authorities have filed felony charges against a Washington Township woman who kept a menagerie of pit bulls, mice, gerbils and snakes with four children in her mobile home in deplorable conditions.

State police lodged the animal cruelty-related charges against Tesha Semaj Berry, 36, of 535 Rabbit Haven Lane, after confiscating 30 pit bulls, two kittens, two ball python snakes, two gerbils and six feeder mice. 

Three other dead ball python snakes also were found in individual plastic bins inside her house.

A warrant has been issued for her arrest on a total of 154 criminal counts filed against her on Wednesday following an investigation.

Berry is accused of keeping the animals and her children in execrable, unsanitary conditions and not providing the animals with proper food, water and protection. The conditions were observed inside and outside of her home, according to a criminal complaint, and the pit bulls’ ears were cropped so short their eardrums were exposed.

Lawrence County Children and Youth Services removed the children, ranging from ages 5 to 11, from the home and placed them with another family member.

The police received information about the conditions of the animals and the residence from a sworn humane police officer. A man had reported to the officer that he was trying to buy a pit bull puppy for $4,000 from Berry and he noticed about 30 dogs living in overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe conditions in 20-degree weather.

State troopers visited the house the afternoon of Jan. 23 and found kennels outside that had no food or potable water that wasn’t frozen, according to the complaint. Each kennel had eight to 10 piles of feces in it, the report said, and all of the dogs in the kennels were adults with closely cropped ears.

A dog on the porch was in a reinforced crate with a tarp over it and a blanket and bedding inside of it were soiled with feces. That dog had no food or water, the report said.

The children were inside the mobile home and a pen containing a litter of about eight puppies was inside the door with pellet bedding inside that appeared to be soaked with urine and feces. Two of the puppies’ ears also had been recently cropped, the complaint states.

Berry told the police that a man at the Red Roof Inn took the dogs to an animal hospital and had their ears cropped, the police reported.

Thee troopers also noted several crates with five or six dogs were in the kitchen, including the mother of the puppies.Two of those adult dogs also had recently cropped ears, the report said.

The kitchen counter, sink and stove were cluttered with dirty dishes and old food that had been left out, police reported. Snakes were on the walls of the living room, some cages appeared to have rats in them, and a white mouse was running loose, the paperwork states. 

None of the dogs in the mobile home had potable water or food, the police noted, and the smell from the inside of the house could be detected from the porch when the door was opened.

The police executed a sealed search warrant at the house the following day. Berry met troopers outside, it was 21 degrees with six inches of snow, and they could smell feces and urine coming from the trailer that sat on a basement foundation, they reported.

One of the kennels in the yard was covered with a blue tarp and a plastic dog house that wasn’t level, with scant bedding inside of it, the complaint states. Four feed containers were attached to the screen and two contained frozen water, the police reported.

The five pythons were indoors in individual heavily soiled plastic totes, including the three dead ones, the police reported.

They noted that the thermostat read 50 degrees, and the carpeting in the back hallway of the home was so saturated and soiled that it was sticking to a trooper’s boots, the complaint states. One pit bull was loose under a bed, and the two 10-week-old kittens were loose in the second bedroom. Another pit bull was housed in a soiled kennel at the end of a hallway, the police reported.

The basement of the home, accessed through a man door, reeked of feces and urine and several dogs were barking downstairs. The police found 10 pit bulls in kennels made of rusted wire mesh, the complaint said.

Police said the ANNA Shelter/Animal Rescue in Erie assisted with handling of the dogs as they were removed. All of the live animals are being housed at the ANNA Shelter, where they will receive care and veterinary help, pending the outcome of the case.

A medical report for all of the animals states that altogether, 23 of the dogs had improper ear cropping. 

Necropsies performed on the three dead pythons showed they died from improper husbandry and basic care, according to the complaint.

Police noted that Berry had failed to provide dog licensing or rabies vaccines for 27 of the dogs that met the age requirements.

She is charged with five counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, four counts of endangering the welfare of children, 23 counts of animal mutilation for having the dogs’ ears cropped, seven counts of cruelty to animals, 27 counts each of not licensing and vaccinating her dogs and 61 counts of neglect of an animal.

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