Animal Shelter Director Faces Cruelty, Neglect Charges
The director of operations for Dazzle's Painted Pastures was charged after a sheriff's raid discovered animals living in squalor, while others were found dead.
A Tinley Park woman who runs Dazzle's Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary has been charged with multiple counts of animal neglect and cruelty after Cook County Sheriff's investigators found more than 100 animals on her property, according to a sheriff's office press release Saturday.
Dawn Hamill, 41, was charged Friday with eight counts of neglect of owner's duties and two counts of cruel treatment. Hamill is the director of operations at Painted Pastures, 5555 W. 175th St., in unincorporated Tinley Park. Hamill’s next court date is March 11.
During the almost five-hour raid, police, the Animal Welfare League of Chicago Ridge and Cook County Animal Control removed 63 dogs, 31 cats and six rabbits. Investigators also removed 30 horses, ponies, sheep, goats and llamas.
The Cook County Sheriff's Police Animal Crimes Unit received tips that poor conditions at the nonprofit, no-kill sanctuary were endangering the animals there. After an investigation that included surveillance of the shelter, officers obtained a warrant to search Painted Pastures, the release said.
Investigators found dozens of animals in unsanitary and unheated conditions, sometimes without food or water. Eight puppies who were exposed to the canine parvovirus, a highly contagious disease spread by dog-to-dog or feces contact, were discovered in an unheated garage without provisions. All of the cats at the sanctuary had respiratory problems, and many had ear and eye infections, according to the release.
Among the dead animals found were a 3 1/2-year-old miniature horse and a Himalayan cat. One cat died after it was removed from the premises, and Hamill agreed to euthanize two dogs on the property, one because of age, another because of aggression issues.
According to the release, investigators learned that Hamill became increasingly unable to care for the large quantity of animals she took in. In fact, Hamill thanked officers for stepping in because her situation had grown out of control.
Postings on Painted Pastures' Facebook page seem to indicate that the shelter was having crowding issues. One posting, which is reprinted as it appears on the Facebook page, went on to blame a disgruntled employee for the possible problems.
"WE R TRYING TO PLACE MANY OF OUR DOGS DUE TO THIS EMPLOYEE TAKING IN MORE DOGS THAN WE CAN HANDLE AT THIS TIME....THE DOGS ARE IN GOOD SHAPE AND HAVE HAD MEDICAL TREATMENT...BUT I AS THE DIRECTOR DO NOT BELIEVE WE CAN GIVE PROPER ATTENTION TO THIS NUMBER OF ANIMALS."
A call Friday evening to Painted Pastures was answered by an unidentified man who said a statement would be made "approximately one year from now" and then hung up.
The domestic animals removed from the shelter are being cared for at the Animal Welfare League of Chicago Ridge, 10305 Southwest Hwy. To view the animals, call 708-636-8586.