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Animal Services wins custody of 54 dogs—and one cat

Loudoun County Animal Services is now preparing 54 dogs and one cat for adoption after a four-month long struggle to win their custody from their owner, Bonita Clark of Annapolis, Md. The animals were seized from a property in Purcellville on Aug. 5 when visiting Animal Control officers were shocked to find them living amid such squalid conditions.

Under Circuit Court Judge James Chamblin’s ruling on Dec. 16, custody over the animals was removed from Clark and granted to the county. Additionally, Clark must pay for the care of the surrendered animals and is barred from animal ownership in VA for the next two years. She must return to court in January, where she will be tried for violating the County Kennel Ordinances. For each of the 20 counts she is charged with, Clark faces up to $2,500 in fines and as many as 12 months of jail time.

During the court proceedings, the Animal Control Division cared for the 55 animals—an “extraordinary” effort that Animal Services Director Thomas Koenig thanked the division for.

The shelter administrator, Laura Rizer, predicts that the animals will be fast to find their way into the hearts and homes of community members. The Loudoun County Department of Animal Services is located at 39820 Charles Town Pike, Waterford, VA 20197. Information about their services can be found on their website, loudoun.gov/animals.


Yeah, JF.  I bet those photos are real unbiased huh?  Were they taken after the animals were rounded up and scared, left in the sun (even a litter of bottle babies). It took hours for the bumbling A.C. officers to do their job they felt they must do.  Glory hunters. They were on the property to check on another resident. And to the rest of you A.C. advocates… how happy do you think those dogs are now living in A.C.?  Bonita knew each dog.  Many had special needs.  I’ve been watching the profiles on the adoption page of their website.  I know for a fact one of them had terrible seperation anxiety and had been returned to Bonita because of it.  It’s not even mentioned on the website.  So some family will adopt him, unfamiliar with the disorder and probably not be able to deal with it.  Boom. Back to the “shelter”.  Great for a dog with insecurities.. But who knew??? His A.C. profile just says he has a few bad manners and lots of energy. Hmmm….Bonita took dogs like him and found the the home that was right for them and their new family.  A.c. could care less. Geez.

Okay, the name calling and acting like children is enough. Bonita Clark is a good person. She made a mistake. She has cared for animals people neglected, abused didn’t want etc. The thing is the people who are bashing her NEVER walked in a rescuers shoes. Yes sometimes we take a little more than we should. But most (even Bonita) knew what she could handle and I think she could handle what she had…. REMEMBER SHE WON THE FIRST CASE… the only major issue was conjuntivitis in a bassett hound…ah if you ever had a bassett you would know it is something that is very common. So she had fleas… misjudement yeah due to dirt floors. I know people with one pet who can not get rid of fleas, and they didn’t have dirt floors. So really you can’t bash her for that she tried and had used flea products, and was in the process of getting more (she had proof) It happens in shelters and rescues and privately owned pets…. fleas happen and once they start they are hell to get rid of. So why not try this “walk a mile in her shoes” and then you can talk. But most of you on here have NEVER rescued, never will, nor will you give up anything for an animal. And she gave up everything. And don’t forget it was a temporary situation for the animals sake. Not hers. I am sure she did not want to live in a barn. Come on people have a little heart. There were no dead animals, no dying animals. Also, look up the definition of a hoarder: someone who thinks NO ONE can care for them any better than themselves.. Sorry: she adopted animals out, and several already had pre approved homes and were leaving. She was very particular where her rescues went, as most rescues are. Which makes me wonder if some of you people were declined adoption by her, and this is a way to bash her. AGAIN, WALK A MILE IN A RESCUERS SHOES, VOLUNTEER, FOSTER, GO CLEAN KENNELS AT A SHELTER. You may just see what any rescue/shelter looks like at 9 am. Then you may have a heart and think twice about how she feels. Also, I am the vet tech and to the person who pitties the practice I work in, well I worked in rescues/shelter as a vet tech. So I have seen the worse cases of parvo, but like I said before if caught in time at first signs of vomiting and diarrhea, they should be treated by a vet. And there is an incubation period and unfortuneately you happened to get your puppy prior to symptoms. So you can’t blame her, it has happened in the best of shelters/rescues. Puppies have been adopted out and then parvo showed up. Ask any shelter/resuce it happens, and it is at no fault of theirs.

Sorry - ditto anonymous has been my name.  I did not want to be anonymous 3 so ditto anonymous worked for me.  Your opinion is noted.  And the dear Lord does not need the wood any longer.

@ditto anonymous

Please get off the cross, Jesus needs the wood.

You coming to this forum using different names but saying the SAME thing over and over again. We get it. You are defending Ms. Clark. Give it up, people have all ready decide which side of this issue they are on and you harping and calling people names is not winning you any points for your friend.

Personally after reading about this case, IMO one person cannot care for 54 dogs and 1 cats ALL BY THEMSELVES. For those numbers you would need multiple volunteers or employees to care for their needs no matter where they were housed.

Maybe every plan you ever make works out exactly the way you envisioned it. I know that I have had to readjust ideas because they needed tweaking or were just not working out.  This is what happened in this situation.  She had to leave one place before she could move to the next.  She was moving in two weeks.  She rented the “barn” because it had a huge fan in the top to move air.  It seemed to be good shelter from the elements.  After all, many just have a doghouse and that is acceptable.  She ran into unanticipated problems with the dirt floor.  Her animals were fed, watered and had plenty of exercise to run around.  More than some get.  They spent hours running and playing together in the yard (with access to in and out).  They did not have cage behaviors.  There were not dead or dying animals.  They had fleas which she had tried using some stuff that did not work.  She had the new stuff by the first hearing and was ordered before the seizure.  So, problem being addressed hopefully more successfully. 
She has adopted out over 350 animals over the past 3 years.  I went and counted the successes.  I am sure the pics show dirt from animals being shut in the barn for the afternoon.  They were probably scared and stressed out from strangers chasing them around.  That would be expected.  She made a bad decision about the barn but hind sight is 20/20.  She went there thinking it would be safe for them until the move. She spent alot of money on animals that came to her with tumors, pneumonia, ectopic ureters, broken limbs and various other problems.  Her rescue ate those costs and never passed them on to adoptors.  The fees remained the same for every animal.  She has helped too many unwanted and animals with issues to go to homes to vilify her for a temporary bad choice.

Also, “vet tech” please stop by and view the photos JF is referring to.

At the supposeble “vet tech” who claims we didn’t do the right thing, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT! How DARE you put me in the category of “dumping animals” when we infact have rescued EVERY SINGLE animal we’ve owned. I do not need to defend our ability or effort to take care of animals, but you are certainly ignorant to come on here and claim that you know the situation when in fact YOU DID NOT! Shame on you and the clinic of which you are employed. People like you disgust me.

Anyone in this thread who thinks Animal Control abused its authority and Ms. Clark is a victim of the system, feel free to stop by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney during the work week and I will gladly show you the photos of what exactly was going out at the barn you refer to as a “shelter” and the way those animals were suffering.

I would like to say being an owner of a rescued dog; It takes a lot of work and time to rehabilitate these animals.  If you are going to be a responsible kennel owner then do so if you’re going to be neglectful then don’t. Too many animals end of in very neglectful situations and it’s up for someone like me to stand up and speak for the animals.  Also if the laws and judges were a bit stiffer on these folks then we wouldn’t have as much problems as we do.  There should be a nationwide registery for animal abusers.

Wow trolls are really posting in this thread.

Animal hoarders can never see the damage that they are doing to the animals that they think they are rescuing.  It’s a darn shame.  I hope she gets help with her hoarding problem but I also hope no one ever gives her another animal.

@anonymous victim….. by the way if you would have adopted the puppy from a shelter, purchased the puppy or adopted from a rescue there is NO guarantee that it didn’t have Parvo. It happens in puppies. Most of the times rescues are faced with the expense of Parvo, due to them being exposed in the shelter who sent it to the rescue, or the breeder who sent it to the rescue. It is something that happens, it is not the rescues fault. And if the puppy was sick did you take it to the vet right away…. which within a week you must not have taken it to a vet, was it vomiting, diarrhea??? The day you got it or did it suddenly get these symptoms??? Did you contact the rescue right away with the symptoms? In most cases with treatment they can be saved… I am a vet tech and have seen more saved if caught in time. I am sure she didn’t adopt a sick puppy to you knowingly. You are not a victim, you are someone who did not do your part as a pet care taker and get the puppy to the vet immmediately. And as for fleas or diarrhea etc, all shelters and rescues treat themselves unless there are other signs. Diarrhea can be as simple as coccidia/worms. Come on anonymous victim, tell the truth. Tell everyone she did NOT knowingly give you a sick puppy. If it was vomiting and had diarrhea and lethargic she would not have adopted it to you without taking it to the vet first. You people make me sick. TAKE THE TIME YOU ARE TAKING TO BE CRUEL TO HER AND VOLUNTEER THAT TIME AT A SHELTER/RESCUE. SEE THE PARVO PUPPIES IN THE SUMMER, SEE THE FILTH IN THE MORNING, SEE THE DOGS SIT IN KENNELS NOT EATING, SEE THAT THEY ARE NOT GROOMED, TREATED MEDICALLY, ETC BEFORE GOING TO RESCUE. And take the time open your hearts to someone who loved animals, and tried her best to help them. Where were you when these animals needed someone? In your cozy home, your expensive car, or dumping another animal at a shelter????

Well I have seen animal control shelters that early in the morning and so has the cruelty officers/animal control. (I am sure this one is also filthy dirty in the morning at 9 am also) Then they need shut down and their name spread through the mud, also. Thank you SWC also.

Good thoughts “someone who cares”  Most shelters do not open to the public until cleaned, animals fed and given water.  I have worked in shelters for years and it is a disaster in the mornings.  They usually do not have someone on duty over night to clean.  I guess any shelter would be in trouble and accused of squalid conditions if visted early in the morning by AC.  Food and water bowls not being filled yet at that time of the morning is not indicative of food and water availability during the day.

And sorry rescue people give everything to animals and hardly ever have “money on hand” to care for an animal. That is why vets give them discounts and the ability to pay. You critical people do not see what it takes to take in an animal, give it shots, spay neuter, heartworm test, and treat a critically ill animal that was dumped on you because the owner didn’t give a crap. Come on most of you that are being critical of her, are probably people who dumped sick animals on people like Bonita. You should see some of the dogs/cats rescues get from open admission shelters, they take them in at all expense, vet them bring them back around. Wow, people open your eyes. You should see the conditions some animals are in when shelters send them to rescues like Bonita. If it weren’t for people like Bonita the euthanasia rates would be through the roof. Shelters don’t have room. Idiots don’t spay and neuter, they dump animals because they don’t want them, or they got a new pup and the old one don’t like it, or they had a baby or they have to move and didn’t take the time to find a place for pets or they won’t pay pet deposits. You cridical people should be prosecuted because you are the ones dumping your animals. Not a rescue person who has done so much good in the world for animals you wouldn’t even know…..

Unless you know Bonita Clark you should not judge, any shelter, rescue, etc is NOT clean at 9 am. I have gone to shelters just like this one to pick up dogs for rescue and it be disqusting. I think the courts should have first hand in seeing any rescue or shelter, especially the shelters who have animal control and cruelty officers. There shelters are dirty until cleaned!! Duh, most of you people don’t see any place an animal is kept until it is cleaned. But the rescue people who go into these places early in the morning or the people cleaning see crap spread all over kennels, up walls etc. It is an aniaml it is not going to stay spotless overnight. And for the most part open admission shelters usually don’t have people cleaning at night. So it is even worse in the mornings. Do not judge until you walk in her shoes. By the way most of you probably never gave up anything for an animal. She gave up everything for animals. Walk into that shelter who took her animals before 9 am bet it is in worse condition than her place was. Come on there were NO critically ill animals NO dead animals, nothing I think the shelter just wanted a news story for MONEY>

Anyone “dedicated” should have had money on hand to care for the pet(s) properly.  At what point does a “dedicated” person think that spaying and neutering just might be a good idea? People like her are the problem, not the solution. Just like the people who are breeding purebred dogs to get designer mixed breeds!  The fact remains, that THOUSANDS of perfectly healthy pets are killed annually (in shelters) simply because there’s no room for them.  There is absolutely no need to BUY a pet from a pet store or from a newspaper ad.  Go to your local shelter, adopt and save a life!!

She had two binders full of vet charges and care which included cherry eye surgery a couple weeks before on one of the dogs, which is cosmetic but would help adoptability.  Unfortunately since you cant ask a binder questions, it is heresay so was inadmissable. She had been there a couple weeks and did not establish with a local vet.

@Anonymous….I am 100% positive that you do NOT know the facts so instead of you being an idiot let’s just say you are ignorant.

Bad things happen to good people.  But good people come up with a way to deal with them that does not involve the death of a puppy.  I applaud her dedication to drive from Annapolis to Pville daily to “care” for the animals.  However, she did not have the tools, the money, or the judgement to be the caretaker of those animals at that time.  If she was such a hero to the rescue world, could she have not reached out to the volunteers?

I get that she wanted to save these animals. I don’t get why that did not include care from a liscensed vet, soft food for puppies without teeth, or shade in August.

I think its safe to say, that we all want to save animals in need.  But first, you must do no harm.  She missed that point, clearly.

To those of you who ignorantly call me an idiot, I welcome the opportunity to respond to your comment as we are all permitted to offer input without being called names. I have been volunteering with rescues for over 10 years. I know what it’s like in a shelter. I also know many local shelters trusted & depended upon Bonita to re-home dogs. We are all on the same team here. I am not saying she was without fault. She doesn’t deserve all of this negative press. The A.C. Should be examined instead of hailed as heroes. They persecuted the wrong person here for something that wasn’t true. They even have profiles on their website of her dogs that are now up for adoption that say they are from a “cruelty case”. She was not convicted on those charges because there was no basis for it. What they are saying is completely false, taken out of context, manipulated in order to sensationalize the story to stir up people like you who don’t know Bonita or the facts of this case.

She dedicated her life to saving animals in need.  A temporary housing situation got out of control and this all took place before she had any time to get things under control.  She was a kind women with the best intentions, she just got in over her head.  She is not a bad person, just got herself into a bad situation.

You are all talking about a kind woman who worked tirelessly for years to find good homes for animals, and then got in over her head because she couldn’t say no to animals in need.  She made mistakes, but she does not deserve this abuse.  I adopted 2 animals from her rescue agency. One was a dog who had been quite ill when rescued and was brought back to health by the rescue members before being adopted.  That’s what she did: found animals in their last days and gave them health and homes.  Both of my rescues are healthy wonderful animals, and I am very grateful to Bonita.

@ Anonymous and Anonymous Two…both of you are idiots. Volunteer at the LC Shelter and see the animals for yourself then come back with an intelligent post.

Anon 1 and 2 :

nobody cares.

I fully agree with Anonymous.  Some of you failed to read the entire story in print.  If this situation was so horrible at the time of the seizure, then why did Ms. Clark win the first hearing?  The shelter had to appeal the original court’s ruling to justify the confiscation of these animals in order to save their own jobs.  For those who were not present at the hearings, there was nothing wrong with these animals other than fleas & in some cases, old age.  But, some of you who’ve joined in on this witch hunt (and you know who you are) will have to answer eventually as to why you dumped animals on Ms. Clark’s doorstep, ran up her medical bills, and many other devious acts we assume you’re unwilling to admit to now.  Anyone willing to step up & admit any wrongdoing?  Nah, I didn’t think so.  The cowards will be exposed for what they really are.  Trust me.

A lot of this is untrue. Media hype & sensationalism to boost A.C. ‘s reputation. Bonita may have been living transitionally temporarily; but lovingly cared for the dogs’ needs. She has rescued many dogs from terrible situations and shelters frequently called her for placements. She carefully places them in new, loving and forever homes that have had home checks, vet checks and reference checks. She handles dogs that others can’t manage, rehabilitating them and teaching them to trust humans again. Don’t believe everything you are reading, it’s very one sided. Bonita’s good deeds far outweigh her mistakes by far.

I sure hope all the dogs and the cat find good homes.  They didn’t deserve the treatment they received from Ms. Clark.  Such a shame.

We were so sorry to hear about Guiness. Please accept our apologies.

The volunteers at Maryland Pet Match never knew of these conditions. We only found out AFTER the court case and we are absolutely devastated. One of my former foster dogs was seized in August. I cannot believe he was living in those conditions. I would have taken him home if I had known he was living in filth and not being cared for.

I agree, Ms. Clark needs help and until she gets it, should not be allowed to run a rescue.

@ping pong pang
You’re a tool, troll.

I hope that they can be healed and good homes found. 
I hope they can help the human, too.

I am very sorry about your puppy. I hope its litter mates all find homes.

Adopted a dog from her rescue, a 3 month old puppy..he died a WEEK after from parvo. Our family was crushed. She was self medicating these dogs and every single one was infested with fleas. Breaks my heart to hear fleas were a small issue for md pet match, among the larger issues found by animal services. This woman needs serious help and deserves some jail time…

R.I.P. Guiness, sorry we didn’t get you sooner boy =(

Animal hoarding is a serious mental illness.  I wish that they would add therapy to their list of requirements/punishments.

The department will never see that money.  She already has animals in Maryland and Pennsylvania so she isn’t concerned with the ones she just lost in this case.

Glad she had to pay for the services that Loudoun County Animal Services was providing for her animals.  About time the bad guy(gal) has to pay for their negligence.

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