PETA Calls for Psychiatric Intervention, Ban on Owning Animals if Alleged Animal Hoarder Is Convicted
For Immediate Release:
October 3, 2013
David Perle 202-483-7382
Winchester, Tenn. – This morning, PETA sent an urgent plea to Franklin County District Attorney General J. Michael Taylor urging him to prosecute Decherd resident Elizabeth Jean Windom appropriately. According to news sources, she faces 28 counts of cruelty to animals stemming from a raid on her home, which led authorities to discover 10 dead dogs on her property and the remains of others. Reportedly also found on the property were 32 surviving dogs, some of whom were starving; eight cats; five chickens; and other animals. Windom is scheduled to appear in court on October 7.
Because Windom may be an “animal hoarder”—someone who obsessively accumulates and neglects animals—PETA is requesting that, if convicted, she be prohibited from owning or harboring animals and required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by necessary counseling.
“Windom appears to be either unable or unwilling to provide animals with the most basic care,” says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “Experts agree that dementia and other mental-health disorders may be at play in many hoarding cases and that upon conviction, only carefully considered sentencing and probationary conditions can preclude the otherwise inevitable recurrence of these crimes.”
PETA’s letter to Franklin County District Attorney General J. Michael Taylor follows.
October 3, 2013
The Honorable J. Michael Taylor
Franklin County District Attorney General
Rhea County Courthouse Annex
375 Church St., Ste. 300
Dayton, TN 37321
Dear Mr. Taylor:
PETA is an international animal-protection organization with more than 3 million members and supporters globally, thousands of whom reside in Tennessee. We thank you in advance for your consideration. This letter concerns a case with your office involving Decherd resident Elizabeth Jean Windom of 1829 Oak Grove Rd. According to news sources, Windom faces cruelty-to-animals charges stemming from the August 9 discovery of 10 dead dogs on her property and remains of others, which investigators are still working to identify. Reportedly, 32 surviving dogs, some starving; eight cats; five chickens; a duck; and a mule were seized from Windom. Many were allegedly found languishing without adequate food or water. The defendant is scheduled to appear in court on October 7.
Windom may be an animal hoarder. Hoarders create massive suffering while professing to care for their animals. A psychological addiction to warehousing animals supersedes any real concern for animal welfare. Their resources are usually constrained, making matters worse. The “hoarder syndrome” is not rare—it’s pathological, and rates of recidivism approach 100 percent. Only specific sentencing provisions (or conditions of a plea agreement) can prevent repeat offenses. Please see the attached for more information.
We respectfully ask that, if convicted, Windom be required to undergo a psychological evaluation followed by mandatory counseling at her own expense. Because repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception in such cases, we ask also that your office ensure that the defendant, if convicted, be barred from possessing animals for as long as possible (a common sentencing provision) and that animals remaining in her charge be seized.
Thank you for your time and the difficult work that you do.
Cruelty Investigations Department