Following a welfare check on a child at a home in the Athol area, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has removed an eight-year-old child and 139 animals from the residence.
Deputies were called to the house, located in the 17000 block of E. Pend Oreille Divide Road, by an anonymous tipster who said the child was in unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions. When they arrived they found the house was indeed unsanitary, with no running water, electricity, no functioning septic system or sewer. The house was filled with animal feces, rotting food and garbage.
The child was taken into protective custody and deputies requested charges be filed against the parents for injury to a child.
Concerned about the welfare of dozens of animals found on the property, deputies also requested Kootenai County Animal Control respond to the residence for a welfare check on the animals. On January 15 they went to the home and found the family had more than 140 dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens and horses on the property, with all but the dogs and cats confined to pens and cages filled with feces and without water.
The following day animal control officers, deputies, the State Veterinarian and the Department of Agriculture’s District Livestock Investigator returned with a search warrant and, because of the lack of suitable living conditions, the condition of the animals and the family's inability financially to improve their welfare, seized 139 animals, including 83 rabbits, 38 guinea pigs, 9 goats, 4 miniature horses, 1 full-sized horse, 3 chickens and a goose.
The animals were transported to the Kootenai County Fairgrounds and are currently being tended to by Fairgrounds staff and volunteers. Because charges are still pending in both the child abuse and animal abuse cases, names of suspects have not been released yet.