Dog Hoarder Dies, Eaten by Malnourished Pets

By STEPHANIE SHARP | ssharp@kark.com

Published 11/24 2015 06:50PM

Updated 11/24 2015 06:50PM

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Ark. - A woman, who was the owner of nearly 50 dogs, died in her home. Her dogs would eventually eat away at their owner's body.
 
The woman, who suffered from hepatitis C, had been in trouble before for hoarding dogs. The county says it made a controversial decision to control the animals after finding out the woman suffered from the disease. 
 
Dogs still roam outside a home along Oyler Road in Van Buren County. It's where 46 dogs were found at the end of August, with a woman dead inside partially eaten by her pets. 
 
"When the deputies arrived on the scene to get in to her, the dogs were vicious. You couldn't even get into the trailer to check on her to see what needed to be done," Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley said. 
 
Deputies and animal control officer Reta Tharp had to do what they never expected. Shoot and kill 9 dogs to get to the 65-year-old who died from Hepatitis C.  
 
"We didn't know if those diseases, or that disease, would be spread by the dogs in the community," Bradley said. 
 
"That's when the real threat began. When they started to roam into the neighbors yards," Tharp said. 
 
Tharp and a veterinarian tried for weeks to save or euthanize the dogs, but after one bit the vet, they decided they had to shoot 27 of them.
 
"It was the only resource we had. We had tried everything else, and it just failed," Tharp said. 
 
Tharp says it was a controversial decision, one the county didn't take lightly. 
 
"I did what I felt like had to be done," Tharp said. 
 
Van Buren County consulted with the Arkansas State Health Department veterinarian. The department said it believes animals could not spread Hepatitis C.  

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