Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Victoria "Vicci" Mary Andrews, 57 animals living in squalor

Cove, AR

Polk County

March 23, 2002 Auburndale, FL
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Class A Misdemeanor

repeat offender

130 dogs, cats, rabbits & chickens Convicted  

Approximately 130 animals were removed from Victoria Mary Andrews, 57, trailer and land.

     

  

The animals were found malnourished and living in filthy and cramped conditions.  Dogs were standing in their own feces, mud and old dog food.

The Department of Human Services made the initial call to the Humane Society concerning the welfare of multiple animals.  The Sheriff's office was called in and the Humane Society left dog food for the animals that were tied outside.  On Tuesday, March 19th, the cruelty investigators began steps to obtain a search and seizure warrant, as the property was thought to have been abandoned.

     

During a torrential rainstorm, 5 dogs and 3 cats were removed from inside the trailer.  4 dogs tied outside, 3 rabbits and 3 sickly chickens were taken to Nutters Chapel Veterinary Clinic.  The animals were evaluated and vaccinations were given.  6 animals remained at the clinic and the Humane Society of Faulkner County volunteers took the rest home that night.

On March 23rd the HSFC met with Andrews, who agreed to surrender all the animals (totaling 130) and not have other animals for 1 year, in lieu of prosecution.

     

Investigators found the animals living in pens on the grounds and inside Andrews travel trailer.  Some of the animals were in airline shipping crates that were not big enough for them to turn around in.  The home had no running water and some of the crates were stacked 3 deep.  Andrews called her location the "Lodestar Shelter".  There were ~50 runs (chain link enclosures) with no floors in them and at least 20-25 were located in the open without any protection from the elements.  Several of the dogs had skin conditions and some were just skin and bones.

     

The Humane Society had been trying for months to get the animals before the DHS got involved.  Sherrill Durbin in Oklahoma had discovered the conditions at Lodestar via the internet in August 2001 and had visited the location during the 6 months prior to the seizure.  She had tried to assist Andrews in adopting out the animals but Andrews was resistant to the adoption of her animals.  Polaski County Humane Society had received several complaints via the internet regarding this "puppymill" and had tried to also assist Andrews but she was again unwilling to relinquish the animals.  They were able to take 13 of the animals back to the shelter in February 2002.   The Sheriff's office had issued Andrews warnings to clean up the place and the Polk County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney had pictures and written statements from witnesses who had been to the location but by March 21st the conditions were found to be the same so the search and seizure warrants were issued.

The Polk County Humane Society and the fire department dismantled and removed all the cages on Andrews’s property, confiscating them along with any other related materials.

  

     

When the deputy sheriffs served the warrants they stated they felt sorry for Andrews, they weren't sure she was mentally qualified to take care of the animals, given the conditions she lived in.  The arrest warrant for cruelty to animals, is only a Class A Misdemeanor.  The deputies took Andrews in, cleaned her up, washed her clothes and released her to friends that afternoon.  The police felt that Andrews was not trying to harm the animals…She was just hoarding them.  Andrews was initially charged with 1 count of animal cruelty.

  

     

Besides the Humane Society of Faulkner County, Polk County and Polaski County Humane Societies also assisted in the fostering of the animals, as it is both financially and physically impossible for 1 agency to take on so many animals.

  

  

Background info:
Andrews, was a schoolteacher at the Caldwell Elementary School in Auburndale, Florida when she founded non-profit Lodestar in 1982.  It listed its officers as Andrews President/Treasurer, Jennifer Lugenbeal from Lakeland, Florida as Vice President and Patrick Dugas as CPA from Winter Haven, Florida.

In 1992 the Humane Society of Polk County in Florida, charged Andrews (case # 92-CC11-2580) with abuse.  On February 2, 1992, Judge Robert A. Young of the County Court ruled to govern the number of animals that Andrews was allowed to keep in a pen, and stipulations were that she was not allowed to keep them in cages, and she was ordered to allow yearly inspections.

At the trial, Andrews testified that after the raid of the 130 animals she now has 21 dogs.  Andrews was asked if the dogs were ever vetted and she replied no.  Andrews also pointed out that she does not have to abide by any Arkansas laws in regard to shelters because her non-profit organization is registered in Florida. 

After the raid, Andrews’s property underwent some renovations – it now has running hot water and she no longer lives in the travel trailer.

Upon further investigation of Lodestar the following information was obtained:
Lodestar Shelter Inc. is listed, as a Code 3 private operating foundation with a 50% deductible limitation, which means only 50% of your donation to Lodestar, is tax deductible.  Lodestar filed the required Form 990 for 1998 thru 2003.

Lodestar was founded in 1982 while living in Florida.  In 1992, the HS of Polk County charged Andrews with abuse.  A judge ruled to govern the number of animals that Andrews would be allowed to keep in a pen, put stipulations that animals were not to be kept in travel crates and ordered Andrews to permit yearly inspections.  Lodestar then left Auburndale, FL and moved to Arkansas.  It is believed the animals were all acquired via the internet from Texas and Kentucky.

Update 4/1/02:
The Humane Societies in Pulaski and Polk counties are seeking homes for more than 100 dogs and cats rescued during a raid of a Cove woman's residence.

Victoria Mary Andrews, 57, has been charged with 1 count of cruelty to animals.

Cove is in western Arkansas on the Oklahoma border.

Polk County Humane Society removed the animals from Andrews's home on March 23rd.

The animals were found to be malnourished and living in filthy and cramped conditions. "There were dogs standing in their own feces, mud and old dog food. There were dogs living on top of the house," said Tami Key, president of the Polk County Humane Society. Polk County Sheriff Mike Oglesby said several dogs were kept in cages in Andrews's mobile home. "We've had a few animal cruelty cases over the years, but nothing this severe," Oglesby said.

Update 7/19/02:
Judge Jerry Ryan of Polk County District Court, found Andrews guilty of “impounding animals – food and water neglect” (insufficient food and water for impounded or contained animals) and sentenced her to 6 months in jail suspended on the condition she violates no laws during her probationary period.

Andrews may not own more than 10 dogs at any 1 time in the future, and the balance of the current animals will remain with the Humane Society or various foster homes.

Polk County Assistant Prosecutor Clay Williams said there would be a review date on August 27th to determine if Andrews is maintaining probationary measures regarding the number of animals she is permitted to possess.  At the trial Andrews stated she now has 21 dogs.

References:

The Associated Press

The Commercial Appeal

The Humane Society of Pulaski County

KFSM News 5

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Log Cabin Democrat

The Mena Star

Polk County Court Records

Blytheville Courier