Woman forfeits nearly 300 animals

Sunday, August 22, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- The eastern Missouri owner of land where authorities this month seized nearly 300 animals has surrendered the animals to the Humane Society of Missouri, the agency said Friday.

Franklin County's Gloria Sutter agreed to give up the animals before a disposition hearing was held, the Humane Society said.

About 130 dogs, two horses, a mule and about 100 cats were seized in one raid, many living in rat- and snake-infested quarters, the Humane Society said. A week later, the agency said, authorities rescued 54 cats and a dog living in Sutter's apartment.

Sutter, who long has feuded with the Humane Society, lives on a St. Clair farm she calls the Vanovia Animal Sanctuary.

The animals have been getting medical treatment at the Humane Society's three shelters, with cost of the care already having exceeded $80,000, the agency said.

"We are relieved that the animals have been surrendered and that none of them will have to return to their previous living conditions," Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society's Missouri operations, said in a statement.

Sutter, who has not been charged, has no listed telephone number and could not be reached Friday.

In a 1986 raid of her property, the Humane Society found 770 animals, mainly cats and dogs. Authorities again alleged Sutter kept the animals in crowded and unhealthy conditions.

Sutter faced three counts of animal abuse, but the charges were later dropped.

Sutter went to court to stop the Humane Society from having contact with the animals. She was granted a temporary injunction to bar the euthanasia of the animals and further inspections.

A judge ruled that Sutter could keep up to 650 animals, provided she employed 10 people to help. Prosecutors dropped the abuse charges.

In 1986, Sutter sued the Humane Society and two workers who helped put down some of her animals from a similar raid in 1984. She sought $200,000 in punitive damages, plus $300 for each animal destroyed -- an additional $76,200 -- and $780 for counseling.

Four years later, a jury ruled against her.

With the latest raid, the Humane Society said Friday it would advocate to Franklin County's prosecutor "that proper parameters and safeguards be put in place pertaining to any future interaction Sutter has with animals."

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