Vet, daughter charged with animal cruelty

Thursday, August 9, 2007

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A veterinarian who faces charges of cruelty to animals on her Illinois farm demonstrated "care and concern" for her patients at a St. Louis County animal hospital, the administrator said.

Georgia Wilson's work at Webster Groves Animal Hospital earned praise.

"Her care and concern for her patients here met with our high standards," administrator Angel Venegoni said. It wasn't clear whether Wilson, who was charged Tuesday, would be fired.

Three dead dogs were found on Wilson's farm in Madison County, Illinois, leading to seven felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals for allegedly neglecting her dogs. She also faces three misdemeanor counts for allegedly neglecting her horses.

Wilson's husband, Steven, said Wednesday that the couple trusted her 17-year-old daughter to care for the pets while they vacationed in Colorado. They left on July 26.

On Thursday, Madison County prosecutors filed three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty against Georgia Wilson's daughter.

They allege that Kelsey Reger of Shiloh, did not provide adequate food, water and shelter for three dogs that died while she was caring for them.

One of Wilson's horses got loose Sunday. A neighbor returned it to her home just outside Maryville, Ill., and discovered the dogs dead in their kennels, the Madison County sheriff's office said.

The three Chesapeake Bay retrievers died of malnutrition and dehydration, court documents say.

Two other dogs, also Chesapeake Bay retrievers, suffered from malnutrition and dehydration, as did a cairn terrier and a border collie. They are being cared for by the county's animal control department.

Court documents say Wilson, 43, "habitually" denied the dogs adequate food, water and shelter. The counts involving the horses say Wilson deprived the animals of fresh water. Instead, she allowed their drinking water to stagnate and become infested with insect larvae, court documents say.

The three horses were examined by a Department of Agriculture veterinarian but remain on the Wilson property in their care, said Marcelyn Love, a department spokeswoman.

Steven Wilson said in a statement that the girl said she had gotten busy with social activities and had not seen the animals since Aug. 2, three days before the neighbor found them. Temperatures during those days were in the mid- to upper 90s.

"The responsibility for this tragedy lies with our chosen caregiver," Steven Wilson wrote.

The kennels were overgrown with weeds and full of feces indicating a long period of neglect, said Madison County Sheriff's Capt. Brad Wells, who called the conditions "deplorable."

Georgia Wilson pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday and was released from jail on a signature bond.

Georgia Wilson has been licensed as a veterinarian in Missouri since 2000, and has never been disciplined for improper behavior, the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board said. She does not hold an Illinois veterinarian's license.

John Tarpoff, of Edwardsville, left his male Chesapeake at Georgia Wilson's farm several years ago for breeding. His dog spent two weeks there and was well cared for, he said.

"I'm floored that she would let something like this happen," he said. "I'm amazed. I truly am amazed."


Information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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