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Animal Shelter Director Faces Cruelty, Neglect Charges

The director of operations for Dazzle's Painted Pastures was charged after a sheriff's raid discovered animals living in squalor, while others were found dead.

A Tinley Park woman who runs Dazzle's Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary has been charged with multiple counts of animal neglect and cruelty , according to a sheriff's office press release Saturday.

Dawn Hamill, 41, was charged Friday with eight counts of neglect of owner's duties and two counts of cruel treatment. Hamill is the director of operations at Painted Pastures, 5555 W. 175th St., in unincorporated Tinley Park. Hamill’s next court date is March 11.

During the almost five-hour raid, police, the Animal Welfare League of Chicago Ridge and Cook County Animal Control removed 63 dogs, 31 cats and six rabbits. Investigators also removed 30 horses, ponies, sheep, goats and llamas.

The Cook County Sheriff's Police Animal Crimes Unit received tips that poor conditions at the nonprofit, no-kill sanctuary were endangering the animals there. After an investigation that included surveillance of the shelter, officers obtained a warrant to search Painted Pastures, the release said.

Investigators found dozens of animals in unsanitary and unheated conditions, sometimes without food or water. Eight puppies who were exposed to the canine parvovirus, a highly contagious disease spread by dog-to-dog or feces contact, were discovered in an unheated garage without provisions. All of the cats at the sanctuary had respiratory problems, and many had ear and eye infections, according to the release. 

Among the dead animals found were a 3 1/2-year-old miniature horse and a Himalayan cat. One cat died after it was removed from the premises, and Hamill agreed to euthanize two dogs on the property, one because of age, another because of aggression issues.

According to the release, investigators learned that Hamill became increasingly unable to care for the large quantity of animals she took in. In fact, Hamill thanked officers for stepping in because her situation had grown out of control.

Postings on Painted Pastures' Facebook page seem to indicate that the shelter was having crowding issues. One posting, which is reprinted as it appears on the Facebook page, went on to blame a disgruntled employee for the possible problems.

"WE R TRYING TO PLACE MANY OF OUR DOGS DUE TO THIS EMPLOYEE TAKING IN MORE DOGS THAN WE CAN HANDLE AT THIS TIME....THE DOGS ARE IN GOOD SHAPE AND HAVE HAD MEDICAL TREATMENT...BUT I AS THE DIRECTOR DO NOT BELIEVE WE CAN GIVE PROPER ATTENTION TO THIS NUMBER OF ANIMALS."

A call Friday evening to Painted Pastures was answered by an unidentified man who said a statement would be made "approximately one year from now" and then hung up.

The domestic animals removed from the shelter are being cared for at the Animal Welfare League of Chicago Ridge, 10305 Southwest Hwy. To view the animals, call 708-636-8586.

Jb Dean February 14, 2011 at 06:26 AM
I'm sorry but thanking them for coming in at this point is a whole lot of hollow gratitude! If she knew she had problems, she should have sought out their help and that might have saved the lives of those that were lost. I'm not sure I would go for jail time, since this is a person that began with good intentions but I would definitely not let her own any animals for a long time, if ever again as she seems to have lost the ability to know when they need more help than she can give and how to handle that.
Angela February 14, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Most of these people that hoard these animals begin with "good intentions" in their own mind. If people can't take care of animals they should be banned from ever owning them. These are lives, not a TV or a car, they're living beings.
Rebecca April 01, 2011 at 01:03 AM
She knew exactly what she was doing and she enjoyed it. Sick. Everything is gonna come back to this sick whoever she is.
Cara Shriver July 23, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Sadly this is not an uncommon site. Some Animal Control Officers are just there to earn a paycheck and collect pension when they retire, animals come secondary. Just like in Connecticut where Meriden Animal Control Officers ACO Bryan Kline, and ACO Jim Barnes should be brought on charges for neglecting animals under their care. There are tens of complaints against them filed with the City Manager Lawrence Kendzior, however Meriden ignores the compaints and its business as usual. Want evidence? Take a look: http://i.imgur.com/7Wyy6.jpg  http://i.imgur.com/8RSWb.jpg  http://i.imgur.com/O4A2g.jpg

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