A town of Onalaska woman charged with 29 crimes after authorities discovered children and emaciated animals living in squalor on her property will serve one year on probation.

Linda West

Linda West

Linda West, 75, pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals as party to the crime, while the remaining charges were dismissed but considering during her sentencing Thursday in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Attorneys jointly recommended she serve probation, a resolution reached in mediation. West must also pay $1,800 restitution — a fraction of what was spent housing and caring for the animals — to the Coulee Region Humane Society. She cannot have contact with animals while on supervision.

“I think (the resolution) sends a message that this type of behavior will be prosecuted,” Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez said.

Carol West

Carol West

Her daughter, 38-year-old Carol West, is charged with the same 29 crimes: two counts of child neglect, six counts of felony mistreating animals and 21 counts of misdemeanor mistreating animals, all as party to the crime. Her case is pending.

Authorities on Oct. 19, 2016 seized 44 rats, 16 horses, eight dogs and one cat from the Wests’ property at N5788 Hauser Road after a neighbor reported their horses tore up his grass. Most were emaciated after having survived living in feces-laden locked plastic kennels or corrals without water, according to the complaint. Veterinarians treated their wide-ranging injuries and conditions.

Carol West’s two children, ages 8 and 11, also lived at the house, which smelled overwhelmingly of urine and feces. An animal control officer choked on the odor, and deputies wore gas masks during a search of the property.

Authorities described the living conditions as “deplorable” with only narrow pathways through debris and a kitchen covered with garbage and dirty dishes. There were 32 dead rats in a freezer.

The county’s health department condemned the house, but later lifted the order when the property met the minimum acceptable living standards.

All but two of the animals were adopted or placed with rescue groups, Coulee Region Animal Control Supervisor Kathy KasaKaitas said. Two horses that suffered from untreatable medical conditions were euthanized.

Neighbors and witnesses for 20 years have reported Linda West; she was cited 12 times for livestock running at large and once for an unburied animal carcass since 2012.

West did not make a statement at her sentencing.

Photos: Officials investigate home in town of Onalaska


Police and courts reporter

Anne Jungen covers law enforcement and the criminal justice system in La Crosse County. She joined the Tribune reporting staff in December 2005. You can contact her directly at ajungen@lacrossetribune.com or 608-791-8224.

(12) comments


Probation was a joint recommendation. That means that the district atty and the defense agreed. In those circumstances, it is disingenuous to blame the judge for being too light.


Just want to state there have been numerous animals loose from different people out there in the last 20 years, so that part is not so unusual. And there still are farm animals and dogs that are allowed to roam and are often on Hauser Rd. and in other peoples yards, but you don't hear about that. Maybe those people need to be turned in a few times to.


Really? You want to put a 75 year old woman in prison? I know Linda from years ago and she was a very nice woman. This is out of character from the Linda I knew. I hope she gets the help she needs.


What happened to the child neglect/abuse charges? Plea bargain?


Probation???? That's hard to swallow. Why did she get off so easy? Don't want to be unfair but this cruel woman (and her daughter) should be in prison. Something is so wrong with this verdict. Makes me cry for those children and the animals.


Looks like my former tenants. Rats in the freezer? Cyrogenics, or what?


both of these women are mentally not balanced. Hopefully the kids were permanently removed & a stipulation that they never own any animals in the future. Releasing them isn't the answer, mental health facility might be in order.


So, is this woman permitted to own animals once her probation is over? If so, that is very unfair to the animals and should not have been allowed.


"Neighbors and witnesses for 20 years have reported Linda West; she was cited 12 times for livestock running at large and once for an unburied animal carcass since 2012."
So much is pathetic about this case from the young children who were forced to live in this squalor and the criminal neglect of all of the animals. The grandmother who cared no more for her grandchildren than she did the animals gets a year of probation from being charged with 29 crimes. Well the daughter had better be looking as serving some serious time over this.
But over the course of 20 years and they were cited only 12 times I can only imagine what the neighbors had to endure. Clearly this is a failure of local authorities in that they did not seriously address this debacle before because imagine if one of the kids had died?
I've read lots of complaints here about judge Gonzalez over the years and yet she runs for reelection unopposed. That needs to change and somebody qualified should have the courage to stand up and run against her because she appears neither to fear nor heed the voices of the community at all in so often placing mercy above justice. I think a serious candidate could defeat her or at least send her a big wake up call.


Ramona did a good job of not considering what those kids went through living in that hell hole.


You got a personal thing for Ramona?


Probation, the non punishment

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