Monday - March 6, 2017 7:29 pm

Courts to determine what to do with animals in Onalaska abuse case Featured

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

County being billed around $1,000 a day for animal care.

An animal abuse trial in La Crosse County could be weeks or months away, but the animals which were abused need to find homes.

"The issue of what happens to these animals will be resolved in the next 10 days," Judge Ramona Gonzalez said in court Monday, adding the county cannot indefinitely hold onto the horses, dogs and other animals taken from the home of Linda and Carol West in the town of Onalaska.

The Wests face more than two dozen criminal charges, related to mistreatment and starvation of those animals.

A communication problem between attorneys in the case has led to a plea hearing or a trial being put on hold.

The Coulee Region Humane Society is caring for the animals now, but the county is paying the bill, which is around $1,000.

Defense attorney Christopher Dyer says it's probably 'futile' for the Wests to ask to get their animals back.

"I'm sure you know, the animals were taken without their permission," Dyer told the court. "They didn't want them taken but they were taken into custody. At that point, I was told, there was no intention of ever putting the animals back in their possession."

Police seized all those rats, 16 horses, eight dogs and a cat back in January.

Inspectors say the horses' hooves were so overgrown, the animals were unable to walk. 

Many of the animals were under-fed, had little or no water and lived in filthy conditions, locked in cages or corrals.

When police finally inspected the home at N577 Hauser Rd., they had to wear gas masks.

Police found 44 rats in the freezer, next to food. Thirty-two more were in various cages upstairs. Feces and urine was everywhere. 

The property belongs to 74-year-old Linda West. Both she and her 37-year-old daughter, Carol West, pleaded not guilty back on Jan. 25 to 29 crimes - each.

Two of those crimes initially included child neglect of Carol's 8- and 11-year-old children. Six were felonies for the mistreatment of animals and 21 more misdemeanors, also for mistreatment of animals. 

"The West property was the worst property I've ever been to in my entire life, as far as cleanliness," La Crosse County sheriff's deputy Rich Amundsen told the court back in January. 

He investigated the house in October, finding piles of garbage everywhere with lanes in between to walk through. 

The investigation came after 20 years of complaints related to the mother and daughter's place. A neighbor provoked it, complaining about a horse belonging to Linda West tearing up his lawn.

"During a brief conversation with Linda, I talked about the deplorable conditions in the home and she responded, 'It isn't that bad,'" Amundsen said back in January.

Kathy KasaKaitas from the Coulee Region Humane Society said dogs had sore spots on their skin and fur.

"There was so much feces in the kennel that the dog was to the top of the wire cage, and it was constantly rubbing on the dog," she told the court in January.

WIZM staff

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