Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Del Norte County Animal Control staff say almost all of 160 animals seized from a property on Meghan Lane three weeks ago are getting healthier, but are still not up for adoption.

Acting on a tip Nov. 2, animal control and sheriff’s deputies recovered a (live) calf, two dead calves, five goats, four guinea-pigs, 10 deceased rabbits, 60 live rabbits, 23 chicks, 12 chickens, 9 ducklings, 12 geese, and a grown llama.

According to reports, 35 animals were seized from inside a home that was deemed substandard afterward and 126 were seized from areas around the home. Owner Kelly Lynch was arrested for willful cruelty to a child and the Sheriff’s Office was investigating animal cruelty. At the time, Del Norte County District Attorney Katherine Micks visited the property and called the scene “tragic.”

Animals were turned over animal control, a division of the Department of Agriculture/ Del Norte County Weights and Measures. Staff there have had to be creative in order to feed and house all of the animals.

A llama, cows, sheep, and goats graze together in an outdoor enclosure while ducks, geese, and rabbits have clean outdoor cages.

Taken care of

Ag inspector II Chelsea Grochowski said a couple rabbits and some chicks have died since they were brought in. She said the animals will be held until the case is completed or the District Attorney’s Office permits otherwise.

Asked about the condition of the rest of the animals, Director Justin Riggs said they’re improving but it hasn’t been cheap.

“They’re putting on weight,” Riggs said, “and we’re spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars and a lot of staff time feeding them. The bunnies have been very labor intensive.”

Riggs said community members have stepped up and provided necessities like feeding bottles, food, wood shavings and even rabbit hutches.

“We have a small amount of supplies but when we get a ton of one kind of animal it can quickly get overwhelming,” Riggs said over the sound of chirping finches in the background. The finches were among the many animals seized at the time and Riggs said a few more were brought in afterward. He said the total number of animals is still around 160 and that staff is finding ways to keep them all housed and cared for.

Riggs said he’s waiting for word from the District Attorney’s Office about the status of the case, so he may return the animals or adopt them out. If the animals are to be adopted out, Riggs said some rescuers have agreed to take all the animals. The rescuers are familiar to his department and have the means to care for the animals he said.

“It’s something we can feel good about,” Riggs said. “That would be a great outcome.”

Micks said Lynch is scheduled for a readiness conference on Dec. 17 and a preliminary hearing on Dec. 18 in Del Norte Superior Court. She was released from jail on Nov. 13 with the conditions that she is not to own any animals and that any properties she resides in are subject to be searched for animals.

“Since Code Enforcement deemed the property substandard, she won’t be going back there,” Micks said.

In the meantime, the animals will remain in the care of county animal control.