MARLOW, Okla. (KFOR) – A Marlow woman is under arrest after a human body and a suspected puppy mill containing 165 dogs kept in deplorable conditions were found on her property.
Karen Jean Prichard, 49, was booked into the Stephens County Detention Center on suspicion of second-degree murder and animal cruelty, according to the Marlow Review.
Stephen’s County Sheriff’s Office deputies traveled to Prichard’s property in the 2400 block of North Highway 81 on Friday to perform a welfare check after receiving a report that someone may have been injured or killed at the location.
Deputies performed the welfare check and found dozens of dogs living in “deplorable” conditions, McKinney told the Marlow Review.
Deputies obtained a warrant to search the property and discovered the body of 31-year-old Ashley Nicole Anderson in an outbuilding. McKinney told the Marlow Review that she appears to have died from blunt-force trauma injuries, but an official cause of death has not yet been determined.
McKinney told the Marlow Review that he believes the victim lived on the property and may have been there to help with the dogs.
Kelly Nelson and Patti Whitaker, both Stephens County Humane Society board members, traveled to the scene after McKinney requested the Humane Society’s assistance.
Both Nelson and Whitaker told KFOR they were staggered by the rancid conditions the dogs were kept in.
“It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Nelsons said. “We were called by the sheriff’s department because of the number of animals and because they had no water, no food and no shelter.”
There were 165 dogs on the property, each kept in small cages that were stacked on top of one another.
“They had no food, not water, no bedding, not a single piece of straw and they were matted, filthy, scared and hungry,” Nelson said.
The dogs, Whitaker said, are puppy mill victims.
“They’re all neglected, everyone of them – from no shelter to no water – when we found them. It’s 100 percent neglect. It’s a puppy mill,” Whitaker said.
Sickness was evident among the dogs, which varied in age and were of several breeds, including Yorkies, Chows and Golden Retrievers.
“They had a lot of sores and matting and health conditions that had not been taken care of, like ear infections and dental work. They were not thin as in starving thin, [but] they were neglected,” Nelson said.
Nelson quickly got a relief effort in motion.
“I was the coordinator on site. We had a coordinator at the shelter. So my job was as the sheriff told us what to do, I was coordinating with the people who were sent to pick up the animals for the night,” she said.
Dogs were taken to local animal clinics and boarding locations, such as More Than Pets in Duncan.
“Every rescue or business that we reached out to responded with as much help as they could give immediately,” Nelson said.
The Humane Society’s official Facebook page sent out an emergency Facebook message requesting hay and straw to give the dogs warm bedding.
“It was 16 degrees and dog houses were completely empty – no bedding, no straw, nothing,” Nelson said.
Community members quickly responded.
“Within 30 minutes, people were coming with straw,” Nelson said. “Within an hour and a half, all of the people who came and brought things stayed and secured the animals. When we left [for the night], every animal had food, water and shelter.”
Nelson returned to the property on Saturday morning to coordinate turning the dogs over to the Humane Society of Tulsa and Humane Emergency Animal Response Team (HEART).
The Tulsa Humane Society and HEART workers examined, documented, took pictures of and tagged each dog and transported them to their facilities in Tulsa, along with a cat and two sheep that were also found on the property.
Nelson is in awe of the response by both community members and humane society workers.
“It was huge,” Nelson said. “This was the worst I’ve ever seen humans do to animals, and last night was the best I’d ever seen humans respond to what happened to these animals.”
Go to www.stephenscountyshelter.com to donate to the Stephens County Humane Society.