Prosecutors Wednesday charged a mother and daughter with 29 crimes each after authorities discovered emaciated dogs, horses and rats living in squalor on their town of Onalaska property.
Linda West, 74, and Carol West, 37, are charged in La Crosse County Circuit Court with two counts of child neglect, six counts of felony mistreating animals and 21 counts of misdemeanor mistreating animals, all as party to the crime. Their preliminary hearings are Tuesday.
A La Crosse County sheriff’s deputy smelled animal urine and feces when Linda West opened the door to their house at N5788 Hauser Road on Oct. 16 after a neighbor reported her horses tore up his grass, according to the complaint.
An investigator found rat feces and urine in a bedroom that Carol West said she shared with her two children, ages 8 and 11, and rats in cages in the hallway outside the door. Debris filled the shower.
Deputies and the Coulee Region Humane Society’s animal control officers searched the dwelling with a warrant on Oct. 19. The animal control supervisor noted the overwhelming smell of feces and urine made breathing difficult.
“That smell was so bad that she started to choke,” according to the complaint.
Authorities described the living conditions as “deplorable” with only narrow pathways through debris and a kitchen covered with garbage and dirty dishes.
They found six emaciated dogs locked inside feces-laden plastic kennels without access to water, 44 rats inside filthy cages and 32 dead rats in a freezer, according to the complaint.
The county’s health department condemned the property. Linda West told deputies the house “isn’t that bad,” according to the complaint.
Sixteen horses in corrals layered with feces or loose on the property had no grass or water. Barn pens for the horses and sheep, now missing, had manure four-feet thick.
A total of 44 rats, 16 horses, eight dogs and one cat seized were evaluated by veterinarians and treated for wide-ranging injuries and conditions, including lesions, low muscle tone, overgrown hooves and infections, the complaint stated.
All animals in the care of the humane society are doing well and others are in foster care for individual care, said animal control supervisor Kathy KasaKaitas. The humane society is looking for families to foster the dogs and rats and donations of senior horse feed, cracked corn and beet pulp.
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.