Thursday - February 1, 2018 6:44 pm

Massive Onalaska animal cruelty case ends with plea, probation Featured

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74-year-old Linda West and 37-year-old daughter, Carol West, were charged with 29 crimes - each - back in January, mostly for animal abuse. 74-year-old Linda West and 37-year-old daughter, Carol West, were charged with 29 crimes - each - back in January, mostly for animal abuse.

A sensational story of animal abuse in Onalaska ends with a plea agreement and probation.

Seventy-five-year-old Linda West pleaded no contest to three of the 29 charges brought against her last year, after law officers found sickly and dead animals on her property.

On Oct. 19, 2016, authorities seized 16 horses, eight dogs, 44 rats and a cat. The animals were taken to the Coulee Region Humane Society. West did not make a statement in court Thursday but her attorney Chris Dyer did

“I know first hand that it's been a very difficult year for Ms. West — a woman that's 75 years old and obviously should be doing other things, than coming to court,” Dyer said.

The other charges — two counts of child neglect (grandchildren aged 8 and 11), six counts of felony mistreating animals and 21 counts of misdemeanor mistreating animals — were dismissed as part of a negotiated plea.

All but two of the animals were adopted or placed in rescues. Two horses were euthanized stemming from untreatable medical conditions.

Judge Ramona Gonzalez ordered West to have no contact with animals during her year of probation. She also has to pay $1,800 in restitution to the humane society — a fraction of what Coulee Region spent housing and caring for the animals.

Gonzalez also said the case is a “learning experience” for the community:

“I think it sends a message that this kind of behavior will be prosecuted by the county and it also indicates that things are not as black and white as they would seem,” Gonzalez said in court.

Gonzalez added that the 29 criminal counts could have taken weeks to try, and she thanked West and the attorneys for reaching a settlement. West's daughter, Carol, is facing identical charges and has also been negotiating with the county.

West’s neighbors in rural Onalaska complained about animal problems for two decades, before sheriff's officers finally investigated.

Prosecutor Jessica Skemp said the animal abuse seemed to be negligent, not intentional.

“Her conduct, in regards to these animals, has further reaching effects that both in her home, pertaining not just to the animals that suffered but her grandchildren and certainly the neighborhood there as a whole,” Skemp said.

Last modified on Friday - February 2, 2018 4:17 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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