Monday, July 20, 2020

Two Arrested in Alleged Puppy Mill; Rescue Efforts Continue

Tammy Turman                    Wesley Chronister

The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals is continuing its rescue efforts for a multitude of dogs that were discoverd Thursday at a residence near Sallisaw. 

Tamara Turman and Wesley Chronister were arrested and charged with 84 counts of animal cruelty after officers and animal rescue professionals discovered a disturbing hoard of unhealthy animals. Chronister was also charged with aggravated domestic violence related to an elderly person living in the home.

On Thursday, Sequoyah County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call at a home on East 1132 Road. When they arrived at the home they met with the reporting party, who said the victim, an elderly woman, had been assaulted by Chronister, was cut and bleeding and needed an ambulance.

The deputies then entered the home and saw Chronister yelling at the victim, who was on the floor. One of the deputies helped the woman to her feet. She had blood all over both her arms from cuts and she had another cut on her left cheek. While being taken to an ambulance, she told a deputy that Chronister threw her on the ground, causing her to hit the wall. He then reportedly dragged her across the floor.

The victim was transported by Pafford EMS to Northeastern Health System Sequoyah.

While the deputies were inside the home, they saw 17 dogs living in deplorable conditions inside wire cages and plastic storage bins in the home.

On Friday, the alliance and the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the Tulsa SPCA, rescued the dogs, which were malnourished and emaciated. Many of the dogs have few or no teeth and they were soaked and caked in urine and feces. Most of the animals had lived on cage bars with no solid surface under their feet. “If you put these animals on the grass they would just make a circle because they've never been out of a wire cage,” Freeman said. 

 Of one of the dogs, Freeman said, “You saw a bundle of matted fur that was indistinguishable as any kind of animal other than just a ball of fur that was matted and wet. We couldn’t tell how emaciated it was because it was just a big round ball and all you could see was its eyes and nose.”

Oklahoma Alliance for Animals groomers, rescuers and countless volunteers have spent hours working to remove hair and filth to allow the dogs to be treated for wounds and health issues.

One of the dogs underwent more than three hours of grooming and shaving. Groomers discovered live maggots hidden inside his more than two inches of solid matted fur, and he had two deformed back legs with no feet or paws. He is reportedly eating well and getting around slowly but surely.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, this was an 11,” Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Freeman said. “This is a typical puppy mill that you would find just about anywhere and this is what the puppy mill law was made for.”

Another dog, thought to have only one eye, underwent two hours of grooming (and lots of snuggles with her groomer), and workers discovered she does have both eyes, but suffers from a cleft palate. She is one of the MANY dogs who will likely require advanced veterinary care in the coming days.

“Animals don’t have a voice so we are the voice and every time we will investigate it, every time we get a complaint we will investigate it,” Freeman said.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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