Christine Calvert, 62, and Mark Vattimo, 72 pleaded guilty to two felony counts of animal neglect and abuse Monday after police found approximately 170 Yorkshire terriers in filthy conditions in the couple’s house, restaurant, and motor home.
The first group of dogs were found in a dark room in their California home and were reported to have matted fur that was covered in feces, while others suffered from untreated fleas, ear infections, and patches of hair loss. The smell of uncleaned urine and fecal matter was so strong, police had to wear masks to rescue the dogs. Authorities later found 29 more dogs in a restaurant the two owned and finally arrested Calvert several weeks later. She was reportedly found fleeing across the Nevada border in a mobile home with 46 more dogs, all of which were in similarly poor health.
Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said the two will most likely receive three years’ probation in their upcoming sentencing next month. The couple will be prohibited from having pets for ten years and may be required to go through counseling. “The most important thing is that they get the help they need for something like this not to happen again,” she said.
Public interest in the case was significant, which led to the adoption of the vast majority of the dogs. Nine still remain at the San Diego Humane Center, ready to find a new home.
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