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News 2005

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Officials: House filled with filth and dogs



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Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Lyon County Animal Control officer Nonie Higley removes two cats Wednesday from Julia Rush's rental property in Silver Springs. Rush pleaded guilty to animal cruelty for failing to care for up to 150 animals living in and outside her double-wide mobile home. Of the 25 cats removed by animal control officers, 22 have been euthanized for various feline illnesses.

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by F.T. Norton, ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com
January 6, 2005

SILVER SPRINGS - For neighbor Frank Grant, the removal of neglected animals from Julia Rush's rental property Wednesday was a sight for sore eyes.

"She has consistently maltreated and mistreated those animals," said the outspoken Grant as he watched Animal Control officers round up feral cats at 1945 W. Badger St. "She's an animal collector. We've been trying to get rid of her for five years."

In that time, he said, he watched Rush's yard and home fill with animals. "At one time she had some 70 dogs."

Rush, 51, stayed inside the double-wide mobile home despite being served with an eviction notice at midnight. She declined media requests for a comment and would communicate only with a friend outside through a slight crack in the front door.




Tom Blomquist/For the Nevada Appeal Officials found six to eight inches of trash and excrement in this bedroom in Julia Rush's Silver Springs rental property Monday when they arrived to remove animals by a court order.

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She pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to misdemeanor animal cruelty. In exchange for the guilty plea, citations for having too many dogs and failing to vaccinate and license them were dismissed. By Nevada law, animal cruelty citations increase with frequency. This was Rush's second conviction. A third would result in a felony charge.

An estimated 50 dogs, 18 goats, horses with 16-inch hooves and untold numbers of cats and sheep were believed to be on the property when the citations were issued in September. At that time Rush voluntarily surrendered 22 cats. They were later euthanized after being diagnosed with feline leukemia and AIDS.

In sentencing Rush to probation, a judge told her she had 10 days to find homes for the remaining animals. If she hadn't by then, Animal Control was directed to take them.

On Sunday, Rush called Animal Control Supervisor Ted Bolzle and said she found homes in Reno for some dogs and was surrendering those that were left.


Tom Blomquist of the Lyon County Spay and Neuter Project volunteered to help in the removal.

"This was much worse than I imagined possible," he said Wednesday. "When I walked in I felt like I was walking into a concentration camp. The (feces) on the floor grew higher and higher and you were walking on what felt like the decomposing floor of a forest.

"The first thing I heard was (one of the officers) saying 'Oh my God,'" as he opened the door to the bedroom - that was where the mother and her pups were found," Blomquist said.

A feral dog had seven puppies nursing inside a tiny cage pushed against a wall. The floor of the room was an inch deep in excrement and debris.

Bolzle said several empty bags of dog food were found in the home but no dog dishes set out amid the furniture, which had been chewed to bits.


In the back yard, six feral dogs shared an 8-by-12 pen, he said.

Officers were forced to tranquilize all six to remove them from their excrement-covered dwelling.

They were eventually euthanized after it was determined they could never be domesticated.

Three other dogs were taken by officers along with the puppies and the mother. They will be offered for adoption from the Silver Springs shelter.


Animal Control Officer Nonie Higley said she was heartbroken to see the conditions in which the animals were living, but her department's power was minimal until a judge decided the situation. In this case, three months after the citation, the animals were finally removed.

Neighbor Grant said he sympathized with the animal control officers.

"They're hands are tied because they're a toothless tiger in this community," he said. "This is something that has needed doing for a long time."



Contact reporter F.T. Norton at
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

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Sunday Column: New name, new home; Rosie the Rottweiler comes by for a visit

February 20, 2005

Rosie the Rottweiler was back in Northern Nevada this week. Now named Brandi, she and her new owner, Jeff Burchick, visited Tom Blomquist, the man who nursed her back to health.

The dog made headlines in the Nevada Appeal nearly three years ago when she was found chained to an abandoned motor home in Mound House with her puppies scattered about.

"She's a fat dog now," Blomquist marveled.

Burchick adopted Rosie on Thanksgiving of 2002 while living in Reno. He has since moved to Henderson and changed the dog's name to Brandi.

"Rosie is now her stage name," he laughed. "She is absolutely wonderful. She's extremely gentle. She's afraid of cats, believe it or not.

"I wouldn't trade her for the world."
 
 
 
 

Sunday, April 10, 2005
Copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal

Seeking to be good neighbors, brothels offer to pay tax

Interest in legitimacy, advertising also serves as motivation

By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOUND HOUSE -- If visitors to the Moonlite BunnyRanch aren't too distracted by the half-naked woman in skyscraper heels likely to be lounging at the bar, they might notice a small glass box stuffed with dollar bills near the door.

This month, the brothel is collecting donations for the Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Clinic. Two months ago, it was the local children's museum.

"I give back to my community," said brothel owner Dennis Hof, who pimps for about 200 women at two brothels in the high desert five miles outside Carson City.

Many others in the industry, which is legal by county option, want to go further.

They're asking to be taxed.

Although county governments collect license fees, the state has never taxed brothels. If an industry lobbying group and an anti-prostitution lawmaker have their way, that could change this year.

"I don't believe in legal prostitution, but I'm not a zealot about it, either," said Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

Ten of 17 counties in Nevada allow brothels, and Leslie said there's no move to change state law to block counties from allowing prostitution.

"They're a legal business. They should contribute like every other legal business, and I'm willing to make that happen," Leslie said.

That's music to the ears of many in the always-skittish industry. For them, a state tax is a stamp of legitimacy, and something they've pursued for years.

Two years ago during a budget shortage, the brothels came close to getting their wish, but last-minute negotiations inadvertently exempted them from a tax on live entertainment.

Now they're renewing their offer, despite the state's surplus of more than $300 million.

"I understand the state is no longer short of funds," said Geoff Arnold, president of the Nevada Brothel Association. "But our philosophy is that the brothels want to be good neighbors and want to help the community."

There's more than altruism in the offer. Unlike other legal businesses, the 28 bordellos in the state aren't allowed to advertise, a widely acknowledged but unchallenged First Amendment conflict.

Media-savvy owners like Hof find ways to get the word out, such as offering free sex to soldiers returning from Iraq.

Others say they ought to be able to advertise, and if they have to pay a tax to get closer to that goal, that's the cost of doing business.

"I think we should have the same rights as any other business, but I also am a realist," said Bobbi Davis, owner of the Shady Lady Ranch, a brothel about 120 miles outside Las Vegas. "And I think this tax thing is also a way to go. There's a price, sometimes, for legitimacy."

Leslie's bill wouldn't set the price very high: about $2 per client. It would bring in about $1 million a year.

The funds would come from the brothel, not the prostitutes themselves, who work as independent contractors and generally give the house 50 percent of what they charge for each "party."

"The state is not going into the business of taking a direct percentage of parties," Arnold said.

Owners don't seem concerned the bill will affect business. Nevada brothels make from $20 million to $50 million annually, Arnold said.

"Precious," who arrived at the Shady Lady Ranch a week ago from St. Paul, Minn., said even if owners pass the tax on to prostitutes, it won't affect her budget.

"What's a couple extra dollars off? I can waste that on lip gloss or new eyeliner," she said. "That's chump change for what some of the girls make here."

Prostitutes at Shady Lady Ranch make up to $1,000 daily during peak tourist season, she said.

But owners like Hof say they already pay their fair share to county governments and shouldn't have to "duck their heads under the sagebrush" or "pay for legitimacy."

Counties charge a quarterly business fee ranging from $100 to $20,000, and prostitutes pay $50 for an annual work permit.

Some counties get as much as 25 percent of their business fees from brothels, a legislative analysis shows. Lyon County, home of the BunnyRanch, will collect $316,000 in brothel business fees and $25,000 in permit fees next year.

That contribution, and Nevada's libertarian leanings, lead many people to say the brothels don't need the good will a state tax might earn them.

"People in Nevada are still sort of interested in the law of the Old West: If someone doesn't bother you, leave them alone," Arnold said.

Hof said he wants to be left alone and prefers to contribute his way, without apologies or new state taxes.

"Audrey," one of Hof's employees, agreed.

"I'd rather see the gentlemen put their $2 in the charity box," she said.

 

 

 

 

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Dog fights hardship with love

 

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer, kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com
July 2, 2005

Left to fend for himself in the Mark Twain Estates, this dog had every reason to give up on humans.

Hundreds of foxtail and cheatgrass seeds had embedded in his body and left more than 300 abscesses. With every movement a new testament to agony, who could have blamed the stray dog for becoming fearful of or aggressive to people.

But Weed, a 5-year-old golden retriever, wasn't the type to give up on the human race so easily.

When Debbie Aronds, a real estate agent with Prudential Nevada Realty in Gardnerville, went to show a vacant mobile home on Mark Twain Avenue to some prospective buyers, Weed limped out from behind the trailer to greet her.

"It was friendly," Aronds said. "We went there to show the house to a potential buyer, when all of a sudden the dog walked up from behind the trailer."

Aronds said the area around the mobile home was overgrown with weeds.

"The dog wanted attention so bad and it was in such sad shape," she said.

The next morning Aronds placed a call to Lyon County Animal Services. "I wanted to call that day but it was too late," she said.

Ted Bolzle, animal services supervisor for Lyon County, made the decision to try to save the dog rather than euthanize it.

"He's one of these dogs that even hurt as bad as he was, he was a loving dog," he said. "You can tell he really liked people. It was just the right thing to do."

Weed was taken to the Yerington Veterinary Clinic where Dr. Lisa Hayden began treatment for the hundreds of embedded and infected foxtails.

Lee Blomquist, co-director of the Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Project and a registered veterinary technician, helped care for the dog.

Blomquist, who gave the retriever the name "Weed," said the dog is improving.

"He's doing a lot better now than we first expected he would do," she said.

She described Weed as not neutered, on the small side, with a little gray on his muzzle, a broken toe and covered with infected wounds from foxtails and other vegetation.

"I think he had about 300 abscesses on him at that point," Blomquist said. "That's when the foxtail seeds have gone in and worked their way under the skin and became infected."

She added that the 300 number was an estimate.

"We have been working on him every day all week and we're still pulling pieces of grass out of him," she said.

Blomquist said they had to shave him all down to get the foxtails out and, to protect the pooch from the sun, got him some T-shirts.

"We named him Weed, so we got him some tie-dyed T-shirts," she said with a laugh.

"One of the reasons why animal services brought him in is, despite the fact he was in so much pain, this dog was wagging his tail wanting love," she said. "He's just a real sweet dog."

The procedures Weed has had to undergo were grueling and there's more that needs to be done, according to Blomquist.

For the first two days of Weed's hospitalization he was anesthetized for a total of six hours - two the first day and four the second - so that the vet could surgically remove the foxtails. Monday he was anesthetized for two more hours.

"We put him under because of the pain he was in," she said. "Now we're working with him awake. Later we'll do some more. We don't want to do it all at once."

Bolzle said though Weed was found under the trailer's porch, the owners of the property were not the owners of the dog, and no animal abuse charges will be filed.

"He had been a stray in that area for a period of time," Bolzle said. "The owner is not known."

The cost of caring for Weed will be borne by Silver Springs Animal Services, according to Bolzle. Blomquist estimated the cost to be about $3,000.

"We have some donated funds and we use those for care of animals, we don't buy office supplies with our donated funds," she said. "I don't even know what the cost will be for this dog."

After his treatment, Weed will be returned to Silver Springs and be placed for adoption - but only to a special home.

"Once we get him taken care of, he will go into a home, but the foxtail and cheatgrass seeds will probably resurface over time, so those in the home must be cognizant of that," Blomquist said. "He's a sweet dog, he was just hurt and he needed care."



-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.



You can help

Send donations to:

Silver Springs Animal Services

3705 Highway 50 West

Silver Springs, NV 89429



To adopt

Call Silver Springs Animal Services at (775) 577-5005.

 

 

 

 

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Weed the dog needs home

The best possible home for injured dog is one that will keep him forever

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer, kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com
July 6, 2005

Weed, the stray golden retriever covered with foxtail and cheatgrass seeds embedded so deeply that about 300 abscesses resulted, is coming along nicely and should be ready for adoption in a couple of weeks.

Tom Blomquist, of the Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Project, said Weed would be at the organization's off-site adoption center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at The Champions Real Estate and Manufactured Housing, intersection of Alternate Highway 95 and Highway 50 in Silver Springs.

The family that adopts Weed, however, must be prepared for more care to remove foxtail and cheatgrass seeds.

"For a dog like that, a number of people will want him, and we will get him the best possible home," he said. "For us ,the best possible home is one that will keep him forever."

Weed was collared by Lyon County Animal Shelter on June 20 covered in foxtail and cheatgrass seeds. The dog endured about eight hours of surgery over three days to remove the vegetation in and will still require additional care.

Blomquist said that Weed's sad tale is not an unusual one.

"That dog's story is a common story," he said. " I have a one-eyed boxer whose story is even sadder. I've got a pit bull who was separated from her puppies too early and a yellow Lab whose owner died of cancer at 22, and whose roommates left the dog tied outside for a year."

He said the boxer was neglected by the owners, who claimed it wasn't any good.

"She is a super sweet dog," Blomquist said. "Some people will make up any story to get rid of their animal or justify what they're doing."

He said the pit bull was separated from her puppies too early, and dug under the door of its home to find them.

"Almost every dog at the shelter has as story," Blomquist said. "We have dogs equal to that dog (Weed) that because they don't get the publicity, no one seems to care about them."

Blomquist said the Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Project maintains a shelter, but the group works to find homes for dogs at the county shelter first, because the Spay and Neuter Project does not set a time limit for keeping dogs like the county.

"I take dogs from the Lyon County shelter that are probably unadoptable at the shelter, as long as I have volunteers," he said. "If I get 10 volunteers, I can take 10 dogs up there."

Ted Bolzle, animal services supervisor for the Lyon County Animal Services, said there had been several offers to adopt Weed.

"I love stories because it brings people in here, but we almost have shoot-outs in the parking lot over the dogs," he said. "Mostly it's on a first-come, first-served basis."

Blomquist added that the home Weed goes to would have to provide the extra medical care the dog would need.

The cost for caring for Weed will be borne by Lyon County Animal Services and is valued at $3,000, though the final amount will be less because veterinarian Dr. Lisa Hayden and Lee Blomquist, registered veterinary technician, both volunteered their services.



n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 351.



Adoption event

WHAT: Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Project off-site adoption

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: The Champions Real Estate and Manufactured Housing, intersection of Alternate Highway 95 and Highway 50, Silver Springs

CALL: (775) 577-3518



You can help

To volunteer with the Silver Springs Spay and Neuter Project, call (775) 577-3518.

 

 

 

 

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Retriever receives a second chance after foxtail injuries
Dog found limping east of Carson City

Sandi Hoover

RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
7/14/2005 11:35 pm

A golden retriever affectionately named “Weed” by Lyon County authorities is scampering playfully at a Silver Springs home after countless foxtails and cheatgrass burrs were extracted from his skin and fur.

“He’s doing tons better,” said Elaine Askew, spokeswoman for the Yerington Veterinary Hospital. “His feet were so abscessed he could hardly walk, but now he’s walking, running and jumping.”

Weed’s plight came to light more than three weeks ago when a real estate agent in Mark Twain Estates, about 15 miles east of Carson City, notified Lyon County Animal Services the animal was limping near a mobile home she was showing, said Ted Bolzle, city animal services supervisor.

“His injuries were quite extensive, there were so many foxtails in him. It looked like his paws had been shredded by glass. His pads were completely raw and chewed up,” he said.

Bolzle said he had to make a difficult choice about the 5-year-old dog.

“Even though he was hurting so bad, he tried to hobble over to you,” he said. “We had to decide whether to save him or put him down.

“I decided, ‘Oh, let’s do the right thing.’ Economically it probably wasn’t the best call, but sometimes you just have to do the right thing. It’s just like with your own pets. You take care of them and worry about the bills later.”

Askew called Weed the best patient she’d ever seen.

“And I’ve worked here 171/2 years. We all just cried for him because he couldn’t even stand up,” she said.

Veterinary bills have mounted to about $3,000, said Lee Blomquist, a technician at the veterinary hospital and director of the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Clinic, where Weed is living. He will be put up for adoption when healed.

“We have a list of about 25 people who are interested in him, but most people don’t realize that there are other dogs who need homes that have equally sad stories,” Blomquist said.

Although the worst is behind him, Weed faces more surgery in the coming weeks as many remaining foxtails are removed, some of which have traveled around in his body, she said.

“He was either dumped or he ran away, but it looked like he’d been laying in all those weeds, so maybe he’d been tied up for awhile somewhere,” Bolzle said.

Blomquist said dogs have a hard time when they’re abandoned.

“It takes them a long time to realize they’ve been dumped. Most of the time they just sit there and wait for their owner to come back,” she said.



Copyright 2006 The Reno Gazette-Journal

 

 

 

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Recovering retriever to greet visitors at adoption clinic

Sandi Hoover

RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
7/22/2005 01:03 am

 

Weed, the abandoned Lyon County golden retriever found last month with hundreds of foxtails embedded in his skin, will greet potential pet owners during an off-site adoption clinic sponsored Saturday by the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Clinic.

“We get people who wouldn’t go to a shelter to come over and meet dogs away from the shelter,” said Tom Blomquist, director of the clinic.

“We adopted out five dogs after Weed’s story came out,” he said.

The adoption clinic will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Champion Mobile Homes at the intersection of U.S. 50 and U.S. 95A in Silver Springs.

Blomquist said Weed continues to improve.

“We decided to take Weed back to the hospital a couple of days ago for some blood work. It just seemed like the prudent thing to do,” he said.

The clinic gives people an opportunity to meet dogs with equally sad stories.

“The clinic offers discounts to people for spaying and neutering, and we’ll provide dog food if needed. I just will not come by and clean up after their dog,” he said.

Weed’s veterinary bills have mounted to about $3,000, so Blomquist said an emergency fund will be established.

He said it might be called the Weed Wonder Fund and will be for other dogs needing extensive emergency treatment.

The 5-year-old dog’s misfortune came to light last month when a real estate agent in Mark Twain Estates, about 15 miles east of Carson City, notified Lyon County Animal Services the animal was limping near a mobile home, said Ted Bolzle, the county’s animal services supervisor.



Copyright 2006 The Reno Gazette-Journal

 

 

 

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Animal activist questions County holiday shelter policy
December 10, 2005 -

On the day after Thanksgiving at 2:45 p.m., a cable company truck pulled up at my residence and told me he had picked up two stray pit pulls, a female and an intact male. Animal Control was closed and the police at the Silver Springs substation told him that if he did not want to take the dogs back to Gardnerville to just let them go.

The dogs had been in his truck since 10 am and were visibly agitated. He was sent to my house because this is the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project and we are known in Lyon County for our rescue efforts.

I called the substation to request the on-call Animal Control Officer to come and take in these dogs. I was told to send the individual and the dogs up to the substation.

I went to the substation with him. We had to call again to get the deputy to open the door and come out. I finally got them to call dispatch about these two pit bulls.

One of the deputies came out in seconds and told me dispatch would not bother Animal Control on a holiday. He said they could do nothing and to just let them loose. When I told him that was not a good solution, he said he saw “no imminent danger”.

I had the cable guy follow me back to my place where I got horse leads on these dogs and got them out of his truck. We gave them food and water, some exercise and they somewhat calmed down. I had no available kennels or dog crates as our extras are loaned out. My only choice was to use my Toyota to secure these unpredictable dogs.

In the course of the next 15 hours I was knocked to the ground, jumped at/on with warning bites and had a vise like bite on my jacketed arm and scratches. So much for “no imminent danger”.

The next morning I finally got Animal Control to come get these dogs. They told me they knew about them because the owners had been looking for them the previous day. If the Sheriffs Dispatch had helped, the dogs would have been secured the day they were found.

Adjoining counties have plans for dog problems on holidays. Sheriff’s Deputies have keys to the kennels and/or dog crates to handle dog calls when the Animal Control facility is closed.

The previous day (Thanksgiving Day), Lyon County called out the on-call Animal Control Officer for a lesser problem. That same night Animal Control was called out for a dead dog on Ramsey Weeks Cutoff. In fact, the Officers were called out many times during that holiday.

My question is: Why would the Sheriffs Department and Dispatch not consider these two pit bulls serious enough to call out Animal Control and why did they recommend just letting them go?

My calls to Sheriff Sid Smith have not been returned.

I have requested this issue to be discussed at the next Animal Control Advisory Board meeting. The meeting will be December 14th at 7:00pm at the MacAtee building in Silver Springs, next to the Fire Station. In addition to this topic the Board will also be discussing feral cats in Lyon County.

Tom Blomquist
Silver Springs

 

 

 

 

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Letters to the editor

From Nevada Appeal readers
December 18, 2005

Lyon shirked duty on two stray pit bulls

On the Friday after Thanksgiving at 2:45 p.m., a cable company truck pulled up at my residence and told me he had picked up two pit pulls, a female and an intact male. Animal Control was closed and the police had told him when he went to the substation in Silver Springs that if he did not want to take them back to Gardnerville, just let them go.

The dogs had been in his truck since 10 a.m. and were visibly agitated. He had been sent to my house as this is the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project and we are known in Lyon County for our efforts.

I called the substation and was told to send him up there. I wanted dispatch called to get the on-call Animal Control officer to come and take in these dogs. I went with him and had to call a second time to get the deputy to open the door and come out. I finally got them to call dispatch about these two pit bulls. When one of the deputies did, he came out in seconds and told me dispatch would not bother Animal Control on a holiday. I asked what can be done and he said just let them loose. I told him that was not a good solution. He said he saw "no imminent danger."

I had the cable guy follow me back to my place where I got horse leads on these dogs and got them out of his truck. We gave them food and water, some exercise and they calmed somewhat. I had no kennels or dog crates as our extras are loaned out. My only choice was my Toyota to secure these unpredictable dogs. In the course of the next 15 hours I was knocked to the ground, jumped at/on with warning bites and had a vise-like bite on my jacketed arm and scratches. So much for "no imminent danger."

The next morning I finally got Animal Control out to get these dogs. They told me they knew about them as the owners had been looking for them the previous day. If the sheriff's dispatch had helped, the dogs would have been secured the day they were found. I found that adjoining counties have plans for dog problems on holidays. The sheriff's deputies have keys to the kennels and or dog crates to handle dog calls.

The previous day (Thanksgiving Day) Lyon County had called out the Animal Control officer for a lesser problem. That same night Animal Control was called out for a dead dog on Ramsey-Weeks Cutoff. In fact many times during that holiday the officers were called out.

My question is why would the Sheriff's Department and dispatch not consider these two pit bulls serious enough to call out Animal Control and to recommend just letting them go?

TOM BLOMQUIST

Silver Springs