Sheriff Arpaio cracking down on animal hoarding

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- There are some disturbing new details about an animal hoarding crackdown in Maricopa County.

More than 60 animals have been seized and two alleged hoarders have been arrested after investigations in Fountain Hills, New River, and Wittmann.

Investigators said the images from the cases tell a sad tale about years of suspected animal neglect.

Authorities said they seized two dozen miniature horses that were barely able to walk and housed on a New River property. They were in desperate need of medical attention.

Heather Phillips, 71, was arrested and charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts in that case.

"We've got to get the message out that this doesn't work, you may all love these animals but you have to take care of them," warned Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

He said his department is on a crusade to stop these neglect cases and said unfortunately, they're all too common in his county.

Wittmann resident Robert Halstead made a gruesome discovery this week after checking on his 78-year-old neighbor, Jerry Brown.

"There were feces on the ground, there were feces 6 inches deep there were cats everywhere, just horrific," said Halstead.

Investigators said Brown's badly decomposing body was partially eaten by his 50 dogs and cats.

As the Arizona Humane Society works on a plan to remove the animals, they also have another case on their hands.

In Fountain Hills, cat rescue volunteer Sharon Anne Weber is accused of hoarding more than 50 cats in her home.

Investigators said they had to walk through two feet of cat feces in the rescue process.

It's a crime investigators say happens everywhere and neighbors need to be observant because these animals rarely cry out for help.

"That's very important for us to get that information so we can do something about it before it's too late," said Arpaio.