FAYETTE COUNTY, TN (abc24.com) - 142 animals were found locked up in the back of a U-Haul during a traffic stop in Fayette County.
The West Tennessee Drug Task Force pulled over a U-Haul towing a minivan on I-40 near mile marker 42 around 11:00am on Tuesday, January 17, 2012. Instead of finding drugs, they found 141 dogs and 1 cat in the minivan and cargo area of the U-Haul without food or water.
Members of the Fayette County Animal Rescue were called to the scene, and determined that the dogs were "being held in conditions that violate Tennessee law." According to reports at the scene, the animals were tied into cages with zip ties, appeared underweight, and their fur was matted with their own waste. Several animals were not caged, running loose in the U-Haul cargo space. The animals had been on the road since Saturday.
The two female occupants of the U-Haul claimed they were from an animal rescue group called 'Hearts for Hounds
' and were transporting the animals from Long Beach, California to Virginia for an adoption event. The two women, 55-year-old Bonnie Sheehan and 59-year-old Pamela King-McCraken, were both charged with aggravated animal cruelty. They are being held at the Fayette County Jail on $100,000 bond.
The animals were taken to a veterinary facility in Memphis to be evaluated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Following her arrest, a supporter of Sheehan told abc24.com that the loading of the animals onto the U-Haul was supervised by Long Beach Animal Control, and that the agency was aware of their destination in Virginia. The person added many of the animals were either too old to be adopted or had behavior/personality problems, and were destined for a 12-acre farm in Virginia. "[Tennessee] may have just signed a death sentence for dogs who were going to a new wonderful home," she stated.
According to the Hearts for Hounds website, the adoption event to which the women were reportedly taking many of the animals is "on hold" due to an "emergency situation." The website also states that Sheehan is the founder of the non-profit organization.