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Tenney facing animal cruelty charges in wake of new property search

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Wendy Tenney makes her case at a county planning commission hearing on whether or not to extend her commercial breeding kennel permit. Her arguments may become more pressing if new criminal charges are filed. Royal Examiner File Photos

The woman who has filed a legal challenge of the Warren County Board of Supervisors authority to revoke her permit to operate a commercial dog breeding kennel had multiple animals seized from her property on Wednesday, September 12.

Wendy Tenney, who had her dog-breeding kennel permit revoked by the county supervisors on April 17 in the wake of a March 2017 kennel fire in which 16 dogs died, is now facing criminal charges related to animal cruelty and inadequate care.

According to a press release issued early Thursday afternoon from the Office of Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron, a total of 30 dogs and cats were seized after an animal control deputy visited Tenney Wednesday, September 12, regarding some goats loose in the road in the vicinity of her 3-1/2 acre home property where her kennel had been located.

From the sheriff’s release on the matter: “The Warren County Sheriff’s Office reports on September 12, 2018 at approximately 10:30 a.m., Animal Control Deputy Gomez while on patrol observed several goats in the roadway at Limeton Church Rd. in Warren County. Deputy Gomez made contact with the owners, Brian and Wendy Tenney, at their residence located at 63 Limeton Church Rd.

“While speaking with Mrs. Tenney, Deputy Gomez heard multiple dogs barking from a locked garage on the property. Based on prior incidents related to the welfare of animals at this residence, Deputy Gomez asked to check the welfare of the animals located inside the garage. While checking the welfare of the animals, unclean and unsafe conditions were observed. Deputies responded to secure the garage and residence on the property while Deputy Gomez obtained a search warrant for the property.

“During the execution of the search warrant, 13 dogs were seized from the garage. One dog and eights cats were also seized from the residence and eight additional cats were seized that were running loose on the property. Based on the conditions, all of the animals were seized and are currently being evaluated, treated and cared for by the Humane Society of Warren County.”

According to the sheriff’s office, the goats remain in Tenney’s custody.

The sheriff’s office acknowledged the assistance of several agencies in the September 12 search and seizure of animals from the Tenney property, including: the Warren County Department of Social Services, Warren County Fire and Rescue, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for hazmat concerns, and especially the assistance provided by the staff from the Humane Society of Warren County.

The sheriff’s release notes that the case regarding pending charges of “Animal Cruelty” and “Inadequate Care” remains under investigation and asks “anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Deputy L Gomez at 540-635-4128 or by email at lgomez@warrencountysheriff.org”

Perhaps ironically, Deputy Laura Gomez was in the middle of the county planning staff’s investigation and recommendation of revocation of Tenney’s commercial breeding kennel permit after the March 6, 2017 fire that killed 16 dogs in Tenney’s kennel on her 3-1/2 acre Gethsemane Ranch property. Gomez had been to the property a number of times regarding the kennel’s operation prior to the fatal fire. She was the officer who warned Tenney not to use space heaters as a means of permit compliance in a dog kennel due to documented dangers of dogs chewing on the wiring – something Tenney herself was reported acknowledging signs of to Gomez during one inspection of the kennel three months prior to the fatal fire.

Of the county kennel fire investigation, Royal Examiner reported, “The County fire investigation indicated the cause of the fire to be a space heater run from an electrical box investigators were told was wired without a county inspection or permit.”

Despite this evidence among other issues regarding cleanliness, noise and cancelled inspections described by county staff at the kennel prior to the fire, as also previously reported here, “In a series of letters Tenney aggressively shifted blame for the fire on county officials and codes.
“And again, for the record, the night of the fire I was in complete compliance according to Warren County Code. And, my dogs were up as it was after 10 p.m., according to code; and they had heat, according to code. They couldn’t escape and it Killed Them. They died adhering to Warren County Code,” Tenney wrote County Planning Director Taryn Logan on October 20, 2017.

As Lorraine Smelser listens, County Planner Taryn Logan explains that Ms. Tenney has received no scrutiny any business requiring a conditional use permit would receive – especially in the wake of a fatal fire.

Tenney has filed an appeal of county revocation of her permit on the grounds the county board of supervisors does not have the authority to revoke her permit, only their appointed zoning administrator, with any appeals being heard by the also-appointed Board of Zoning Appeals. Neither Tenney nor her attorney at the time, Jay Neal, expressed any opposition to the review process through the county planning commission and elected board during a process that ran from January through April 17 of this year.

Tenney has retained the services of new counsel, Michael Sharpe, in pursuing her permit revocation appeal. A hearing date of January 3, 2019 has been set in Warren County Circuit Court on Tenney’s appeal.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Katrina Hinegardner

    September 14, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Anyone who cares at all how animals are treated should pray that the courts will see to it that
    Ms.Tenney is never allowed to have animals in her care again. By hiding these animals in a garage, She has proved that she has no respect for animals, they are just a source on income. Her behavior leaves no doubt that animal control will have to keep a close eye on her, because she doesn’t seem to believe that the laws apply to her. Stop the neglect of innocent animals. Be the animals voice! Prosecute her to the fullest extent the law will allow.

  2. Jim Irre

    September 14, 2018 at 5:35 am

    How much more evidence is necessary? How many more animals have to be mistreated or die under Tenney’s care to make sure she never has control of any animals again?

  3. lilblu2

    September 13, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    Omg..This is why I use a pet sitter. I am so cautious where I leave my dog. Rover.com my foot. I rather take him with me.Glad my dog is fixed..A nightmare.

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