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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.

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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.

(24) comments

awol2009

This happened last October and it took this long to prosecute? The DA's office must be desperately back-logged.

FMC651

Someone if not all have mental health issues. In addition the children will have behavioral issues from living like that.

In reading this story I see that many agencies failed. The most glaring is the school system. Assuming both children went to school, no one noticed that the children either smelled badly or were wearing filthy clothing? One phone call to CPS could have initiated a home visit. What happened here? I have no idea if neighbors were close enough to have seen a problem so I can't judge them. Thankful after 20 years, it has come to a conclusion. Unfortunately for the children and animals it took way too long. Hopefully this prompts these agencies and school members to have a look at how they could have changed this long ago.

RedHawk

They could have been home schooled which would beg the question, does anyone make an inspection visit when allowing parents to home school.

RedHawk

The only thing dummies are good for are to make more dummies.

GrandpaS

This is absolutely incredible, both for what those two women did AND that even with all the clues, nothing significant has been done about it until now. If the younger woman was 37, wouldn't her kids be big enough to know that this lifestyle doesn't work? I mean, if they went to school, wouldn't they realize that other people don't smell like animal feces? I have to believe that most of the animals were smarter than the humans who kept them. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. And by the way, their skin color has nothing to do with anything. Weird people come in all shapes, colors and sizes.

kingman10

The white folks around here sure are breaking the law a lot. From a naked dude running from the cops, to high speed chases, going after cops with a log chain, giving drugs that kill our veterans and on and on....they can't even take care of their animals! Maybe they should go back to where they came from, right hoaxer!

RedHawk

The Native Americans should have killed the original illegal immigrant "pilgrims" when they landed at Plymouth Rock.

chucker

Low IQ , WHITE TRASH !!! they should be deported to Cuba or Russia !!

Greengate

Chucked..why don't you let them stay in your beach house by the ocean. They could use your pool and have Leonard, the chauffeur, drive them around.😇

mud flyes

Few years back town chairman and deputy and humane society visited there and the same was evident then. Finally caught up with them.

Lizbeth Amanni

What? It took them this many "Years" to put a stop to this abuse? They've been on the radar of the chairman, the police and humane society; calls for TWENTY years and now it "finally caught up with them"? And the kids? What a family tradition they will be living with. Has anyone made arrangements to immediately get these kids into a psychologist? I think that should be mandatory or these kids will be haunted and crippled by this treatment till the day they die. At least have a followup story that says that this is happening!

fandangle

it's great that the animals are being taken care of now... but where are the children?

Greengate

What's that banjo I hear playing in the background, or were they watching "deliverance" and it's the soundtrack from the movie that I hear.

Bullflap

The responsibility for this lies squarely in the offices(s ) it was repeatedly reported to by concerned citizens w/o any resulting action.

DMoney

The responsibility for this lies solely with the two scumbags charged with the crimes.

Check into Reality

I agree Senior, someone wasn't doing there job OR maybe there wasn't anything really going on but a neighbor dispute??
That tv show Fear Your Neighbor (not sure if that's the actual name) but it sure makes you wonder who really was the victim in a case like this!
After that long maybe there was nothing done because there was nothing going that NEEDED to be done?
Maybe these people were the victims?
Neighbor disputes can get BAD!
You would think that NO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY would have let anything go on for 20 years & do NOTHING!!
Lets remember that Lacrosse County has a bad history of call kettles black that were never used!
Let's get off all the reality TV & check out reality here!! This involves REAL people! REAL animals! & REAL LIVES!!
I'D SAY Something sounds very FISHY here people!
So let's not just fry up the ROTTEN FISH cause it was caught in a net!!
Think

lacrosseguy

Sure they were living in squalor, neglecting their children and animals, and just generally being terrible neighbors, but the other guy called the cops on their starving horse eating his grass! Obviously they're the real victims here.

mud flyes

Citations were written many times. Check to see what happened with those citations.
The officers, humane society, ect. can only pass on the information someone higher up has to act on it. WHO????? and Why not????

BichonFrise

These two despicable people should be locked up without a potty or water for the rest of their lives. How could they do this and let children live there? I hope they both go to prison for at least 10 yrs each!!!!!![angry][angry][angry]

w9idx24

So it took 20 years for them to take real action?

senior

People have been complaining for 20 years????? That doesn't say much for the people in charge of the wellbeing of children and animals. This is not excuse, someone is NOT doing their Job!!!!

Whyknot

In the past they would surrender animals and move to somewhere else so it would be a different agency handling calls on them. If they surrender animals often times no charges get filed. I don't know why it took so long to get child welfare involved as far as the kids go unless it is because they are older now and condition is more likely getting noticed in school

mud flyes

That I know of this is the first time she was caught with the kids in the house. Prior times 24 hour notification was required and no children were present.

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