Woman arrested on animal cruelty owns grooming and boarding shop
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The woman at the center of an animal abuse investigation works at a Huntsville business that takes care of animals on a daily basis.
WAFF 48 News found Laura Anne Lane Lifer, 49 of Toney, is the owner of KK & Company, a Huntsville Pet Grooming and Boarding facility just off Pratt Avenue.
In a picture WAFF 48 News showed on Thursday, a truck with the company logo on the side is now part of evidence.
It was parked right outside her home, a home where animal control officers in Madison County say they found numerous dead animals.
On Thursday evening, Lifer was taken into custody and booked into the Madison County Jail.
Chad Brooks, an investigator with the Madison County Sheriff's Department, said, "[She has been charged with] 13 counts of cruelty to animals and one specific count of dog or cat cruelty."
Cruelty to animals is a Class B misdemeanor, while dog or cat cruelty is classified as a Class A misdemeanor.
"In the state of Alabama there is a felony count for this type of offense," Brooks said. "But in this one, the lack of sustenance to the animal which caused their starvation rises to the level of what we charged her with, which is the misdemeanor counts."
As for the latest in the Madison County side of the investigation, Brooks said, "Madison County Animal Control is assessing fitness of additional animals which were on the property and they are in process of seeking suitable accommodations for those animals."
Sheriff's department investigators believes a cat and livestock animals, including several goats, sheep, and one rabbit, died under her care at this farmland on Hammond Lane.
Part of that land is in the city of Huntsville, where another investigation is underway.
Huntsville Animal Services Director Dr. Karen Hill Sheppard told WAFF 48 News, "Last week, we initially received a call from a motorist that had found what appeared to be a dead horse and that started the entire investigation."
Huntsville Animal Services found four dead horses and others that hadn't been given enough calories to maintain their body weight.
"The individual was incredibly cooperative and ended up signing over a large number of dogs and a handful of horses to us," Sheppard said.
She added that all five surrendered horses now have new homes.
"The horses are currently in really lovely foster homes, and that's really great," Sheppard said. "We had a huge outpouring of love from our community, of horse owners and they're all in really good hands right now and over the next two months will gain a lot of weight and do very well."
The 28 dogs her agency received went to several departments: Huntsville's facility, a Birmingham agency, A New Leash on Life, and the Greater Huntsville Human Society, which the director says helped put these canines into really good situations.
Sheppard says the dogs were in very good condition.
"There were some dogs that were geriatric, and there were some that had a lot of have some behavioral issues and that's not uncommon when you have a large number of dogs to cease them," she said.
Sheppard said all 28 dogs are expected to be adopted.
The director says her department is continuing to work the investigation and at this point and time is just going to communicate directly with the owner.
Sheppard also said she suspects Lifer will also face charges in Huntsville.
"There is a condition that we see in animal services and in rescue agencies, people's hearts get ahead of what they're able to handle and it's called animal hoarding," she said.
She said the hoarding comes in various shapes and sizes and "this case does appear, has some similarities."
Sheppard said animal hoarding is a problem in Huntsville and across America.
"Often the animals suffer because the underlying goal for the individual is they're trying to help the animals, but there is only so much one individual can do for a certain number of pets," she said.
Finally, she finishes saying, "I think it's important when you see situations like this, if you love animals and end up wanting to help them, to know when you've reached your limit and to know well before you reach your limit that this is the last one that you can handle or manage."
WAFF 48 News made multiple attempts by phone and in person to reach Lifer and even passed her on the road to her home. Lifer went to a neighbor's house, and he told us she didn't wish to comment.
As of Friday, no court date has been set and WAFF 48 News was told she doesn't have an attorney yet.