Essex Animal Shelter manager Angel Milliken-Fennell and volunteers James Fennell, Ashley Marie Ray, Heaven Jacobs and Debra Cowan have been indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury (VA) of two counts of grand larceny of a dog and two counts of conspiracy to commit larceny.
The charges stem from the December 2012 break in at the Essex County Animal Shelter where two pit bulls that were scheduled to be euthanized after mauling a herd of Alpacas were stolen.
The two pit bulls, Jewels and Chaos, had been declared livestock killers after killing a herd of alpacas on Upright Road in Dunnsville in August 2012.
The dogs were stolen before they could be euthanized, when the Essex County Pound was broken into, 8News reports.
In August, Wes and Abbey Gauvin, the owners of Essex County Alpaca Farm discovered what they describe as the most grotesque sight of their lives. They lost their entire herd of Alpacas when they were attacked by two Pit Bulls. "The ones that weren't dead were just sitting straight up with half their faces mangled off of them, limbs missing," Abbey Gauvin said of the scene.
Wes Gauvin says two of his neighbors pit bulls were still inside the alpaca's fence, according to 8News. He said they were wagging their tails.
Of the 15 alpacas in the herd, 10 were either killed in the mauling or had to be put down due to their injuries. Three of the alpacas have since passed away; the herd is now down to just two.
An Essex County judge, saying there was no question in his mind that the dogs are the ones response for the attack, ordered the pit bulls to the euthanized.
8News spoke to Alonzo Normon, the dogs' owner, who contends his dogs, one of which was captured inside the pen with the wounded and dead alpacas and the other which had been seen earlier, probably just wandered onto his neighbor's property after the attack.
The Gauvins say they won't rest easy until the dogs are put down. "They were not just live stock; they were pets, and we grew attached to each and every one of them," Abbey Gauvin said.
In December 2012, the morning the Pit Bulls were scheduled to be put down, Essex County Animal Shelter employees found that two cages were empty and a window was open.
News8 reported, “Tappahannock Police are investigating if someone broke in or "if other circumstances assisted the dog’s removal."
Police searched the home of the Pit Bulls’ owner but found nothing. He had appealed the court's decision but withdrew that appeal three days earlier.
Cages at the Essex County Animal Shelter were left unlocked routinely. Tappahannock Police said they were not ruling anything or anybody out and asked for the public’s help with providing information at the time.