Former president of animal rescue arrested on animal cruelty charges

mhankerson@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2013 

— Wake County Animal Shelter volunteers recovered more than 90 animals this weekend from a home that shelter employees said had areas covered in feces and was an unfit place for animals to live.

Police found 90 cats and three dogs in Carol Jean De Olloqui’s home on Sandy Bluff Road on the outskirts of Knightdale last weekend. De Olloqui, 44, was the former president of Calvin’s Paws, a local animal rescue that coordinates pet fostering and adoption.

Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Shelter, said the home’s conditions were “horrible” and warranted the immediate removal of the animals.

Federico said they were able to save about 30 cats, but 60 cats had to be euthanized. The Wake County Animal Shelter helped remove animals from the home.

De Olloqui will appear in court on Dec. 10 on three charges of animal cruelty. She has not returned phone calls or emails requesting to speak with her.

The arrest warrant said De Olloqui, an attorney, deprived the animals of food, water and medical care.

The animals have been sent to both the Wake County SPCA and the Wake County Animal Shelter. The SPCA has 14 of De Olloqui’s cats and the three dogs. The remaining cats were sent to the Wake County Animal Shelter and two other rescue groups, including Safe Haven Rescue in Raleigh.

Federico said most of the cats had conditions, including upper respiratory infections, ulcers, emaciation or dehydration. She said a handful of cats appeared healthy.

Mondy Lamb, a spokeswoman from the SPCA of Wake County, said the animals the group received from De Olloqui’s home appeared to be healthy but would be examined by a vet soon. They were eating normally and were friendly Saturday night after being removed from the home.

“This (Calvin’s Paws) is a respected organization that has been very key in the (rescue) community,” she added. “The years of good work and lifesaving work that this organization has brought to the table cannot be overlooked.”

The eight cats at Safe Haven were having trouble eating, Pam Miller, the organization’s executive director said. Some have to be spayed. There were two that tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and one whose claws grew into the pads of its foot.

Lamb said the next step for handling the animals with the SPCA will involve Calvin’s Paws. The two organizations have already begun communicating about what to do with the animals.

Some of the animals appear to be foster animals while others seem to have had previous owners. Lamb said animals with microchips will be returned to their owners. Other animals will be put up for adoption at the SPCA.

Tools for enforcement, not intervention

Calvin’s Paws rescues between 400 and 500 animals a year, according to its website. It is an all-volunteer rescue organization that operates on donations and money earned from adoption fees. It began in 2006 under the name Cat Tales. Later that year, the organization partnered with the Marley Fund in Greenville and became Marley’s Cat Tales.

In 2010, the organization obtained its own nonprofit certification and broke away. In 2012, the organization officially became Calvin’s Paws.

“There’s so much need in this community for independent rescue groups to function,” Lamb said. “There’s so much need that is unmet for help of homeless pets. So is it in my realm of comprehension that a respected group may be overwhelmed? Yes.”

Without commenting on De Olloqui’s particular situation, Lamb said incidents like hers can be a catalyst for discussion about how best to handle the people who care for Wake County’s growing pet population.

“There’s no middle ground … for people who need to reach out for help, because they’re slapped with cruelty charges and arrested when there’s no … space for intervention,” Lamb said.

Miller said this was the seventh animal hoarding situation Safe Haven has been involved with in the past six years and, like Lamb, said it should open a discussion on how to help the owners while helping the animals.

“Animal hoarding is a mental disease,” she said. “No one starts out doing this for any mean reason; they start out wanting to rescue 10 cats, and then it becomes 20 (cats) and then 30 cats. ... Nobody does it out of anything but a desire to do good for the animals, but it can backfire.”

Miller said hoarding situations usually occur among breeders and within no-kill rescue groups, like Calvin’s Paws.

Calvin’s Paws’ current president, Dan Wagner, issued a statement saying the rescue organization does not support the practice of foster owners’ taking on “an abundance of animals.”

“Our only goal is to rescue animals most in need; sometimes we fear our fosters take on more than they should,” Wagner said in the statement.

Wagner said the organization would be evaluating policies and procedures of their foster program to make sure foster owners and animals stay safe.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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