The Connecticut Department of Agriculture, with help from Madison Animal Control Officer Fran Fellows, arrested an animal importer from Georgia on Saturday and charged her with 28 counts related to an allegedly illegal pet-adoption operation.
Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said Department of Agriculture officers arrested 64-year-old Donna Lee Carswell of Grovetown, GA, on Saturday for alleged animal cruelty and related charges.
Fellows said Monday the animals seized during the operation at a commuter lot in Madison were very sick, but were being taken care of and under medication. She said she hopes they will be available for adoption soon, but that right now they are being nursed back to health.
Revickzy said in a news release that "after receiving complaints from consumers and the Rhode Island state veterinarian that Ms. Carswell was placing sick animals into adoptions with Connecticut and Rhode Island residents through her Nick of Time rescue business, the Department of Agriculture’s animal control unit conducted a sting operation with the assistance of Madison police and animal control officers."
Undercover officers met with Carswell in a commuter parking lot under the auspices of purchasing a dog, Revickzy said.
The Department of Agriculture seized 10 cats and two dogs being transported in dirty enclosures covered with feces and urine. The cats exhibited symptoms of respiratory distress. All of the animals were taken immediately to an area veterinarian for examination.
Two cats had to be euthanized because of illness, according to the release.
“The Department of Agriculture has no tolerance for cruelty to animals or importation of sick animals into Connecticut,” Reviczky said in the release. “We take these issues very seriously and will continue to pursue prosecution of offenders under state law. It is our goal to eradicate the needless suffering of innocent pets, as well as the severe emotional and financial hardship their new families inevitably face after unknowingly adopting seriously ill animals.”
Carswell was charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals, 12 counts of failing to have official interstate animal health certificates, failure to register as an animal importer, failure to notify the Department of Agriculture of an animal adoption event, operating a pet shop without a license and failure to have animals examined by a veterinarian prior to adoption.
She was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to be in New Haven Superior Court on Feb. 4, 2014.