Questions arise about Long Beach women in animal cruelty case
Animal service officials in Long Beach on Wednesday night were trying to determine how two women operating a well-known dog boarding facility became ensnarled in an animal-cruelty case in Tennessee.
Bonnie Sheehan, 55, and Pamela A. King-McCracken, 59, have operated Hearts for Hounds in Long Beach for years. They have adopted hundreds of dogs and were well-regarded, officials said.
The women were arrested Tuesday and charged with 128 counts of animal cruelty after they were stopped by a state trooper in Tennessee, authorities said.
"That's the thing that is so strange and so tragic," said John Keisler, acting manager of the Long Beach Animal Care Services office.
The women were driving a U-Haul truck that was pulling a minivan east of Memphis. Authorities said 21 dogs were found inside the minivan and that at least 107 others were discovered amid unsanitary, dangerous conditions in the back of the truck without any food or water.
Sheehan and King-McCracken left Long Beach on Sunday, headed for Virginia to conduct dog auctions. In the days before they left, the animal care office received three complaints, Keisler said.
The first one was on Thursday regarding noise and foul odors. Officers inspected the facility and were planning to deliver a notice to comply on Tuesday. But on Sunday, the office received an anonymous call about a dead animal thrown in the trash, according to Keisler.
An officer responded but found no dead animal. After the officer left, the office received another call saying that the women were packing animals into a truck.
The same officer responded again, Keisler said, but it's unclear whether she saw the dozens of dogs being crammed inside the U-Haul.
The office is now investigating what transpired that day.
"We're taking a look specifically at what she saw when she was there," Keisler told The Times. "There's conflicting reports. We want to get it right."
— Robert J. Lopez
Photos: Bonnie Sheehan, left, and Pamela A. King-McCracken. Credit: WDBJ7.com