Owners say they didn’t mistreat animals
While Nevada County Animal Control investigates the neglect of pets and farm animals left at a residence off Bitney Springs Road, the animals’ owners are back in town claiming they’ve been wrongly painted as the bad guys.
“I don’t mistreat my animals,” 42 year-old Craig Whittingslow said Wednesday. “When we left, they were healthy and well fed.”
“We’re not neglectful people,” said Whittingslow’s partner, Lynda Bright. “I’ve always taken good care of my animals. They get fed before I do.”
Whittingslow and Bright left town June 28 and headed for Washington state to help Bright’s parents move.
The two said they made arrangements with a local relative to care for animals – about 60 cats, two dogs, seven goats, four pigs, a burrow and a bunch of ducks and geese – while they were gone.
Whittingslow said he left enough food to feed the animals for three weeks, barrels of water in case the water pump broke down, and $400 with the animals’ keeper in case a cat or dog needed to be taken to the vet.
“I even had a sprinkler set on a timer in the front yard so the cats had a wet place to lay when it got hot in the afternoon,” he said.
About two weeks after they left for the Northwest, Whittingslow and Bright said the relative who agreed to care for their animals called and said she couldn’t handle it any more.
“We were going to pack the motor home and come back the next day,” Whittingslow said.
Then, Whittingslow said, another relative called and “swore up and down that he was taking care of the animals.”
Whittingslow and Bright – who returned home early Tuesday morning – said they expected to be back sooner, but Bright’s parents ran into delays closing escrow on their home.
“We called every couple of days and everyone said everything was just fine,” Whittingslow said. “All someone had to do was tell us what was going on and I would have been down here in a minute.”
Whittingslow and Bright, who admit to having too many felines, said they started with six cats six years ago, but just can’t turn a hungry animal away.
“All we were doing is feeding the cats that showed up on our property,” Bright said. “The ones that needed care we took to the vet or doctored ourselves.”
“If taking care of the strays that showed up hungry on my doorstep is a crime, then I’m guilty as hell,” Whittingslow said. “I just can’t see not feeding them and didn’t want to take them to the shelter to be put down.”
Whittingslow and Bright said all the farm animals on their property were given to them by people who were moving or couldn’t keep them anymore.
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