UPDATE: 2 in custody as children, animals removed from Three Points property
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Sheriff's Department is reporting that two women, 45-year-old Irma LeChuga and 41-year-old Melanie Parra were arrested on June 28, and are facing the following charges: child abuse felony charges (multiple counts), animal cruelty charges (multiple counts) and possession of wildlife (Misdemeanor).
PCSD was asked for assistance by DCS, as the five children were taken into DCS custody.
According to PCSD the Arizona Department of Agriculture was also called in to remove the 138 animals that included snakes, tarantulas, dogs and cats, as well as pigs, ducks, sheep, chickens, a ferret and even a Gila Monster.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department conducted an investigation involving over 100 animals, including dogs and livestock, in Three Points on Thursday, June 28.
A call was placed to the Sheriff's Department last April related to animal neglect at the property, according to Daniel Jelineo, public information officer, Pima County Sheriff's Department.
Thursday morning, PCSD deputies served a search warrant on the property to perform a welfare check and called Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) for assistance with the animals.
"We knew there were a large number of animals on the property. We didn't know what they were or how many," said Pima Animal Care Director of Animal Services, Kristen Auerbach.
Initial on-scene reports from PACC's Animal Protection Service officers estimate about 40 dogs, 50 chickens or roosters, one ferret, one snake and about 10 potbelly pigs living outdoors. PACC officers are reviewing the condition of the animals.
Property owners agreed to surrender most of the animals to PACC, which means the dogs, if healthy, will be immediately available for adoption or foster. The farm animals will be sent to partner groups who handle livestock.
"But there's a good part to this story. Unlike many of these cases, everybody was generally in good health. Most of the animals were in good weight, they had food and water, and no one was really sick or suffering," said Auerbach. "The animals that have come here - all except for a couple of them - were surrendered. So the owners knew they weren't going to be able to keep them and they surrendered them to us."
Animal Protection Service officers have started coordinating with additional shelter operations for medical evaluations and preparation for later adoptions.
"It was quite a scene. They were generally well-cared for animals and it's a shame they won't be able to keep them. But we're going to do our best to find them good homes so that their former owners can eventually know that we did re-home them and that we plan to get every one of them out of PACC alive," Auerbach said.
PCSD is currently leading the investigation.
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