KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was guilty on all counts for a Kansas City woman who authorities say is a habitual animal abuser.
After a two day trial, a judge found Dorothy Vandergriff on 18 counts of animal neglect.
“Things have gotten progressively worse. The last 15 years have become unbearable with the smell and animals roaming free,” Kati Toivanen said, who as lived next door to Vandergriff for 20 years.
What neighbors call a 15 year downslide ended its unraveling in June 2018. While on a medical call at Vandegriff’s home on Pennsylvania Avenue, firefighters reported deplorable living conditions inside the house.
They found animal feces, urine, animal hair, cat litter boxes overflowing as well as flies and fleas thought the house.
Three dogs and over a dozen birds living in dirty cages with no clean water.
One firefighter described the smell as so atrocious, “The ammonia levels were burning my eyes and skin. It was very difficult to breathe.”
The city found the conditions inside to be unsanitary and uninhabitable.
After an investigation, Vandergriff was arrested and the animals were rescued.
“I mean people can live how they want to live but the worst part for me is the smell,” Toivanen said. “I can’t use my backyard in the summertime especially. It smells really bad all the time.”
Dr. Julie Burge treated the birds the day they were rescued. In court, she described the bird cages as so full of old feces, it was spilling out of the cages and the water dishes were slimy and discolored. All of the birds were found underweight and one died.
“The unclean conditions they were exposed to can make them prone to viral or bacterial infections,” Burge said.
Vandergriff has been in trouble for this before.
Court record states animal control has been to Vandergriff’s place 36 times for animal cruelty violations.
In 2012, animal control removed 36 animals from her home.
Vandergriff has also been found guilty of similar crimes in municipal court. After several attempts to get Vandergriff’s side of the story, she declined to talk to FOX4.
In this case, she could spend up to around 9 months in jail and pay a $9,000 fine.
Her sentencing will take place in a couple of months.