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Woman Charged in Connection to Louisa County Animal Investigation

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Farm property under investigation by the Louisa County Sheriff's Office [FILE IMAGE] Farm property under investigation by the Louisa County Sheriff's Office [FILE IMAGE]
Donald Lowe Donald Lowe
Farm property under investigation by the Louisa County Sheriff's Office [FILE IMAGE] Farm property under investigation by the Louisa County Sheriff's Office [FILE IMAGE]
Geese connected to an animal rescue in Louisa County [FILE IMAGE] Geese connected to an animal rescue in Louisa County [FILE IMAGE]
Goats connected to an animal rescue in Louisa County [FILE IMAGE] Goats connected to an animal rescue in Louisa County [FILE IMAGE]
LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A Louisa County woman could face up to five years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines after hundreds of animals were taken from her property.

Seventy-seven-year-old Clara Mae Collier is charged with five counts of animal cruelty and neglect. Authorities said Collier lives along West Old Mountain Road, which is the same street where deputies with the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office discovered more than 500 animals last week.

"This has been the biggest, in my memory, in over 30 years, and I suspect may be the biggest case like this in the county's history,” said Louisa County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Major Donald Lowe.

"It was just overwhelming almost at one point, just because of the number of animals that were involved," Detective Sergeant Mark Stanton said.

NBC29 spoke to Collier Monday, December 4, though she declined to be on camera or comment on the case. Collier said she didn't know she had that many pets, and that she just loves animals.

"They believe that they were taking adequate care of the animals. They don't understand why the sheriff's office is doing these things," said Stanton.

Goats, horses, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks and cats are some of the animals found on what authorities had thought was an abandoned property. Many of the animals appeared to be malnourished, underweight, and suffering from eye injuries.

"We have to have individual vet rescues and treatment plans for every one of those animals,” Lowe said.

Some of the animals are being housed at a temporary shelter at the Louisa Fireman's Fairgrounds until more suitable arrangements can be found. Animals in critical condition are being taken to a state veterinarian for care. A few of the animals from the property had to be put down.

Volunteers with Louisa County Community Animal Response Team (CART), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and other organizations are assisting authorities. They are asking the community to help with donations of water, pine bed shavings, and other goods for the animals.

Some animals are still living with Collier, but the majority are being cared for by the county's animal welfare task force.

"There are some animals out there that are in good condition and they seem to be taken care of, so there was no reason to remove them," said Lowe.

"We've also been checking on the status of those animals on a daily basis to make sure that they're being adequately cared for," Stanton said.

A judge is expected to decide who will get custody of the animals during a court hearing on Thursday, December 7.

"Since she does not want to surrender these animals, we have to go to court with her and ask the court to award the animals to us," Lowe explained.

Collier is scheduled for a preliminary hearing for her five misdemeanor charges on Thursday, December 14. The sheriff’s office said more charges are pending against her.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA announced Monday that it has taken in 24 cats from Louisa County. The shelter said it is also hosting a supply drive to aid in the ongoing relief efforts.


12/04/2017 Release from the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA:

In light of the tragic animal neglect case currently taking place in Louisa County, the CASPCA has transferred in 24 cats and kittens from the Louisa County Animal Shelter (LCAS,) 20 of which are currently available for adoption.

This transfer has opened up physical space at the LCAS for the many birds and guinea pigs that were seized in this hoarding case, and has freed up the shelter manager's time so she can focus on determining the custody situation, begin to reach out to rescues, and prepare for taking in many more animals.

CASPCA staff is on-site today at the LCAS assisting with husbandry and enrichment for the many guinea pigs and birds that have been removed from the farm. Housing these types of animals in a shelter designed for dogs and cats can be particularly challenging, but staff are helping to provide comfort for a variety of species that all have different needs.

In addition, the CASPCA is hosting a supply drive to aid in the ongoing relief efforts. Items most needed include: dry cat food, blankets, pine shavings, bottled water, and feed for ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Donations can be made at the CASPCA or the Louisa County Fairgrounds.

“The CASPCA immediately rose to the cause to help Louisa, our neighboring county. We were deeply saddened to learn about the dire situation of hundreds of animals in desperate need of rescue and medical attention. Due to the ongoing support from our community, we are able to assist LCAS in clearing out their cat room to make room for the incoming animals,” says Angie Gunter, Executive Director of the CASPCA.