Animals Removed from South Suburban Sanctuary - NBC Chicago

Animals Removed from South Suburban Sanctuary

Dead animals found on three-acre property, says law enforcement source



    Based on a tip that animals were living in poor conditions, authorities execute a search warrant on animal welfare organization in uncorporated Tinley Park. (Published Friday, Feb. 11, 2011)

    Officials with the Cook County Sheriff Department's Animal Crimes Unit on Friday afternoon executed a search warrant on a South Suburban animal rescue facility after receiving a tip that some of the animals there were being mistreated.

    Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, a non-profit organization in unincorporated Tinley Park, bills itself as an animal rescue site, taking in dogs, cats, horses, llamas and miniature ponies.

    But officials were told that some of the animals kept at the location, at 555 W. 175th St., were not being appropriately cared for.

    Well more than 100 animals were found on the three-acre property, including more than 65 dogs.  Some animals were "malnourished and unhealthy," a source close to the investigation told NBC Chicago.

    There were dead animals found on the property, the source said.

    Officials from the Animal Welfare League of Chicago Ridge arrived on the scene after law enforcement. 

    From NBC Chicago's helicopter, animals could be seen being escorted to awaiting vehicles, presumably to be taken to other sanctuaries.  There was no evidence from NBC Chicago's video of any malnourished or mistreated animals.

    The search warrant was executed at about 1 p.m.  At least two dozen horses remained on the property at 4:30 p.m. 

    It appears that Painted Pastures was aware the action was coming. 

    "Just to set the record straight, Painted Pastures is not closing down, is not bankrupt [and] is not being forced to close," said Dawn Harley, who bills herself as the director of the organization, in a Tuesday post on Facebook.

    Harley said the tip about mistreated animals was a "rumor" that  was "the works of a disgruntled employee" who was "taking in more dogs than we can handle at this time."

    "The dogs are in good shape and have had medical treatment, but I, as the director, do not believe we can give proper attention to this number of animals," she wrote.

    One woman has been taken into custody.

    Update: Operator of sanctuary says the neglect charges are a "huge misunderstanding" and says  she called law enforcement herself earlier in the week for help with overcrowding.