A Glenwood woman - who a Howard County inspector said kept a house so filthy it wasn't fit for a dog - will be allowed to keep two dogs after all, according to a ruling by the Howard County Animal Matters Hearing Board.
Three months after Howard County animal control officers removed 19 dogs, including 10 puppies, from Katherine Richards' rural rundown western county home, she has won approval to have two of them back, with conditions.
But Richards, 78, doesn't like the conditions.
"They want to come up here once a month and tell me how to feed my dogs. I'm a United States citizen. They're treating me like a criminal. Don't you think that's horrible?" she said yesterday.
County officials tried for weeks to negotiate an agreement with Richards, who says she likes having lots of pets and denies that she can't care for them. No agreement was signed.
This week, Richards complained that the county has kept her dogs so long in the Davis Road animal shelter that they might no longer be sociable enough to live with.
Earlier, while negotiations were under way, she said, "I can't understand why the county is always after me."
The puppies seized March 7 were adopted by county families a few weeks after the April 2 board hearing in the case, when Richards voluntarily agreed to give them up. An order issued by the county Animal Matters Hearing Board this month tries to end the situation.
The board found Richards innocent of animal cruelty but guilty of neglect, based on testimony from county inspectors that the house is strewn with junk, animal feces and urine, has an unusable kitchen and that the dogs lived in one upstairs room. Richards denied all.
The ruling gives her permission to reclaim two of the dogs the county removed, if she first cleans her house and property, permits the county to verify that, then allows regular monthly inspections by animal control officers.
At the board's hearing in April, animal control supervisor Lynn Neser testified that "returning even a single animal to this environment, I think, would make me guilty of cruelty and neglect. I think it's a sad situation."
Officials contended Richards can't care for the dogs properly but refuses to acknowledge it.