In a sad ending to the latest chapter in Howard County's long struggle with a rural woman over the care of her numerous pets, five dogs seized from Katherine Richards in March were put to death yesterday, while two were adopted and two more sent for rehabilitation by county animal control officials. Ten Labrador retriever puppies among the 19 animals seized in March have been adopted by other county residents.
The action on the nine adult dogs occurred after Richards, 78, of Glenwood in the western part of the county, failed either to appeal a June 6 ruling in her case by the county Animal Matters Hearing Board, or to agree to the deal offered her, according to Cpl. Lisa Myers, police spokeswoman. The board said she could have two dogs back if she first cleaned her house and agreed to monthly county inspections.
Deborah Baracco, animal control administrator, said the five euthanized dogs were physically sound but "too aggressive" to adopt. A private Labrador retriever rescue group will take two more dogs to work with until they are docile enough to be adoptable. The mother of the 10 puppies and a Rottweiler -- offered to Richards in the board's decision -- were to be adopted today by other county families. Baracco credited the work of staff and volunteers at the Davis Road shelter for salvaging four of the nine dogs.
But an alternately angry and tearful Richards claimed that all nine animals were fine, despite testimony in April by a county inspector that returning even one to her would constitute cruelty and neglect.
"I could have put those five dogs in my back yard, in doghouses," Richards said after learning of their fate. "I loved them. I cared for them. I could sit down right now and cry. They took an old lady's dogs away from her."
"They wanted to come and inspect my dogs and my house the rest of my days," Richards said, adding that the county might as well have "put a shackle on my leg."