SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A couple that pleaded guilty to hoarding more than 170 Yorkshire terrier and Yorkie-mix dogs in filthy conditions in their Poway home were sentenced to probation Tuesday.
Mark Vattimo, 72, and Christine Calvert, 62, pleaded guilty last month to felony animal abuse charges. As part of their plea agreement, the defendants will be placed on probation and won't face additional custody, but will have to undergo counseling, will not be allowed to own any pets and will transfer title of a 31-foot motorhome to the Humane Society as restitution in the case.
Vattimo and Calvert can apply to have the felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors after 18 months of successful probation.
Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said the Humane Society got a report in January from a concerned veterinarian about the condition of dogs that were being kept in an unsanitary dark room filled with feces, urine and mice at the defendants' home.
Officials from the Humane Society went to the home but were initially denied entrance, Reedy said. A few days later, they were allowed in and 94 dogs were removed from the defendants' home over six to eight hours, the prosecutor said.
Twenty-nine dogs were subsequently taken from a restaurant the couple owned and nearly 50 dogs were seized from the motorhome when Calvert was arrested in February in Primm, Nevada.
All of the dogs that were seized from the home had health problems, including ear infections and severe matting. It was not clear why the couple had so many dogs in the residence, Reedy said.
"It's just that they (the defendants) had some issues, they got in over their heads, and we believe that this is a good agreement for all," Reedy said. "What's most important is that these pets were saved and got help, and so will these defendants. We want to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again."