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Hundreds of animals seized at shelter

More than 300 animals — including dogs, cats, chickens and goats — have been rescued from an Adair County organization where the bodies of dead animals were found with live ones and feces and urine contaminated the rooms.

David Floyd Howery, the owner of Clean Slate Animal Rescue in Columbia, has been charged with 195 counts second-degree animal cruelty.

"It's the worst thing I've ever seen in the way of animals and the conditions that they were living in and the health that a lot of them are in," said Chief Deputy Bruce McCloud of the Adair County sheriff's office.

Clean Slate, whose mission is to provide a temporary home until animals can be placed in a permanent one, was raided Friday after the sheriff's office received a call about the conditions at the rescue agency, McCloud said.

The sheriff's office seized about 210 dogs, 30 cats, 50 chickens, 12 goats, three potbellied pigs, three chinchillas, two donkeys and a horse at Clean Slate.

Six dead goats were found in a room with the 12 live goats, McCloud said.

Howery, 50, is being held on a $1,500 full cash bond at the Adair County Regional Jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Adair District Court.

Additional counts of animal cruelty will be added and the total will probably exceed 300, McCloud said.

Howery and his elderly father were living in the building with the animals and the animal carcasses, he said.

The sheriff's office called in the Environmental Protection Agency, the health department, the social services department and a hazardous-materials team for assistance, McCloud said.

The original 195 counts against Howery do not include charges for the dead animals or the chickens, goats, pigs, chinchillas or donkeys, McCloud said. The number of animals already dead hasn't been determined.

The animals are being housed at three locations for the time being, McCloud said.

A local farm has taken in the goats and chickens. A rescue agency has taken in the horse and donkeys.

All of the dogs and cats have been taken to the Green River Animal Shelter in Columbia.

The condition of the animals ranges from fair to very poor, said Jeff Thomas, director of the Green River Animal Shelter. "Nothing was extremely healthy. A lot of them have respiratory problems, skin conditions and are underweight."

Shelter officials are assessing the conditions of the animals, feeding them and trying to clean them.

When Green River personnel opened the shelter Saturday morning, they discovered that two animals taken from Clean Slate had died overnight, Thomas said.

Clean Slate gives rescue groups a bad name, Thomas said. "Most rescue groups are aboveboard. They pay you an in-home visit before you can adopt an animal. This fellow didn't do that."

The Green River shelter is under a court order not to euthanize or adopt out any of the animals until Howery is arraigned Monday, Thomas said.

Clean Slate was originally in Estacada, Ore. The rescue agency moved to Kentucky in March 2007 after it purchased the former Sparksville Elementary School building at 44 Weed-Sparksville Road.

Clean Slate took in animals from shelters all across the state, Thomas said. Three of the animals found at Clean Slate were from Green River, he said.

Shelters where animals had been housed are sending personnel to Green River to help and to identify any of the animals that had come from those shelters, Thomas said.

The 75 animals that already were being housed at Green River have been taken in by the Warren County Animal Shelter, Thomas said.