A Massachusetts woman faced a judge Thursday in a case of animal cruelty, one day after a raid of her "squalid" farmhouse and property in Marion.
Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Lauren Fisher, 65, during her arraignment in Wareham District Court, where she was charged with two counts of animal cruelty, interfering with a police officer and resisting arrest. Fisher said she has hired an attorney but the lawyer was not present in court Thursday.
Fisher's 8-acre property was raided Wednesday after police were informed of problems there last month.
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"The home was in absolute deplorable condition," a prosecutor said. "There were approximately 47 different animals running throughout the home."
During the raid, investigators seized miniature horses, exotic birds, cats and dogs - all living in deplorable conditions, Marion police said at a news conference. The home on Front Street, where children were living amid animal waste, was also condemned, as it was determined to be structurally unsound and filthy.
When the Animal Rescue League of Boston tried to seize the animals, police said Fisher interfered and ended up in handcuffs.
Outside of court Thursday, Fisher said she loves animals and was just trying to help them.
"All I can tell you is that all my life I've taken care of animals. I've rehabbed them. I've found them new homes. And that's what I've done. That's my life calling," Fisher said.
The incident is not Fisher's first run-in with law enforcement. In 1999, she was arrested on four charges and was previously barred from having animals on her property after being charged with several dozen counts of animal cruelty, a law enforcement source told the NBC10 Boston Investigators. Her home was condemned at the time, officials said this week. Those charges ended up being dismissed.
Repairman Dave Keedwell told NBC10 Boston he worked on Fisher's home last year and had serious concerns back then.
"It was disgusting," Keedwell said. "I've been on a lot of houses. It was like, wicked bad."
Keedwell said when he did duct work, he smelled foul odors but never saw any neglected animals.
"If I'd seen the animals like that I would've said something, but it was just disgusting. I couldn't wait to get out of the house. It was gross," Keedwell recalled.
In additional to Fisher, at least four other people were living at the property, including children, police said. The children weren't present during the arrest and authorities have made arrangements for them to stay with relatives.
Fisher is due back in court next month. In the meantime, she is not allowed to have any animals.