This is an advertisement

410-363-3311 410-363-3311

Not Criminally Responsible in Animal Cruelty Case

Not Criminally Responsible in Animal Cruelty Case

Woman pleads not criminally responsible In animal cruelty case 

By Matthew Plum Examiner Staff Writer 
Baltimore Examiner 9/13/06
 District Court on Tuesday. 
A Harford County woman charged with 118 counts of animal cruelty entered aplea .of not criminally responsible in Harford County. Donna Bell was charged in May after authorities found 70 dogs and cats living in squalor, and numerous other dead animals in two homes she owns in Whiteford. 

“She has a disorder that doesn’t allow her to conform to the law,” said Bells’ attorney, Leonard H. Shapiro. ‘”Animal hoarding is a classic case of obsessive compulsive disorder. This is a really nice lady who spent a fortune on these animals”.”She was just so scared that anytime someone would call her up and ask her if she could take a animal, if she didn’t, they would be put to death. She couldn’t say no,” he said. 

After reviewing Bell’s file for several minutes from the bench, Harford County Judge Lawrence Lanahan agreed to postpone a ruling on the case until a psychiatric evaluation could be performed.”I would just ask that she not be allowed to have care or custody of any animals,” said Harford County Assistant State’s Attorney Cristin Treaster. Shapiro indicated to Lanahan that this was a given. 

“Our focus in this entire case has been the wellbeing of the animals,” said Tammy Zaluzney, executive director of the Harford County Humane Society, where the dogs and cats from Bell’s property were taken after being seized on May 12 by Harford County Animal Control. Since then, all of the dogs and cats have been adopted, Zaluzney said.As for where the case now stands, Shapiro said outside the courtroom Tuesday that Bell would undergo an initial psychiatric evaluation with-in the next 30 days. Then a panel of psychiatrists would hear her case and they would rule on the validity of Bell’s plea. 

He said such a panel typically issues a ruling within 90 days. If this panel were to agree with Bell’s plea, she would have to undergo treatment for her disorder, and perhaps, be monitored for the rest of her life.If the panel were to disagree, Bell would have to stand trial.”My whole hope is that there is a reliable method in place to ensure that something like this does not happen again,” Zaluzney said.