The attorney representing a non-profit pet rescue organization is raising questions about the recent seizure of roughly 120 animals.

Livingston County Animal Control received complaints and responded to Last Chance Rescue in Howell Township late last week before returning Wednesday to serve two search warrants simultaneously; one at the facility and another at a private residence of someone affiliated with the rescue. Violations were found as far as unsanitary conditions and animals needing medical care, which prompted the decision to seize the animals.

Howell Attorney Tom Kizer is representing Last Chance Rescue. He is the former husband of the shelter director Sharon Kizer. He questions why all of the animals were seized so suddenly, including obvious pets of the owners, versus working with them to address issues. Kizer says the actions are reasonably upsetting and feels it’s a case of government overreach. He says Animal Control indiscriminately seized everything and some of the animals were pets, not shelter animals, and should be returned. He says Animal Control has possession of a dog extremely well cared for and owned by the 96-year-old mother of Sharon Kizer, a companion to a widow. He says the situation is also disruptive to the animals, noting another blind dog the director has kept and cared for. Kizer tells WHMI he’s waiting to see what the evidence shows or doesn’t show as to why all of the animals were seized. Kizer says not all of the dogs might have been in perfect health, as they are rescue dogs that come from all different types of circumstances. However, he knows based on history that a considerable amount of time and money is spent to provide care for the animals so he’s waiting to see what the purpose and intent of everything was.

Animal Control Director Aimee Orn tells WHMI when on scene, there were great concerns for the safety and well-being of the animals and they were not comfortable leaving them there. She says concerns were also relayed to shelter staff at that time. Orn noted that if there are concerns for the animals they will be removed, not left behind. She was hired by the county in late October and is not familiar with the organization. Orn stressed these are never personal attacks on any person or organization but strictly for the safety and well-being of the animals of Livingston County.

The majority of the animals seized were voluntarily surrendered and will eventually be placed up for adoption. Animals not being surrendered will be housed at the local shelter as evidence until the investigation is complete.

Orn earlier said they were looking at violations under state cruelty and neglect laws, which is what the unsanitary conditions fall under. She says their report with a recommendation will be sent to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office, which will make any decision on potential charges. (JM)