A Covington woman is charged with 73 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after authorities accused her of keeping scores of animals in unsanitary conditions and running a shelter without a license.
Elizabeth Warbington voluntarily surrendered 74 cats and one squirrel to Animal Control inspectors, according to Newton County spokesman Bryan Fazio.
Fazio said Warbington operated the Paws for Hope rescue shelter. Someone who purchased a cat from Paws for Hope filed a complaint with Newton County Animal Control, sparking an investigation, Fazio told AJC.com.
Fazio said Warbington was operating without a Department of Agriculture license or a Newton County business license. He said when investigators obtained an inspection warrant and entered Warbington’s property, they found the animals being housed in “conditions with large amounts of accumulated excrement.”
Animal Control Director Cindy Wiemann told Channel 2 Action News there was a “strong stench” in the building when investigators entered.
“The food and water was contaminated,” she told the news station. “We immediately asked her to surrender all of her cats, which she did.”
Fazio said Warbington had previously been issued an order to stop selling cats and kittens by the Department of Agriculture.
Warbington disputes the charges against her. She told Channel 2 the cages at her business are usually spotless and her employees work hard to care for the animals.
“We believe here intentions were very good, but she got completely overwhelmed,” Wiemman said, “and again running an unlicensed rescue, in an area not properly zoned.”
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