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Madison Police Help Nab Animal Importer Arrested And Charged With Animal Cruelty

Donna Lee Carswell, 64, of Grovetown, GA was arrested and charged after placing sick animals into adoptions in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

A Georgia woman was arrested Saturday and charged with animal cruelty after transporting animals to a Madison, CT commuter lot. Photo Credit: CT Department of Agriculture
A Georgia woman was arrested Saturday and charged with animal cruelty after transporting animals to a Madison, CT commuter lot. Photo Credit: CT Department of Agriculture

Madison Police and Animal Control Officer Fran Fellows assisted the Connecticut Department of Agriculture with the arrest of an animal importer from Georgia who has been arrested and charged with 28 counts related to an illegal pet adoption operation. 

Fellows said Monday that the animals seized during the operation on Saturday at a commuter lot in Madison were very sick, but were being taken care of, and under medication. She said she hopes they will be available for adoption soon, but that right now they are being nursed back to health. 

Connecticut Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said that the Connecticut Department of Agriculture arrested 64-year-old Donna Lee Carswell of Grovetown, Georgia, in Madison on Saturday for animal cruelty and related charges.

Revickzy said in a prepared release that "after receiving complaints from consumers and the Rhode Island state veterinarian that Ms. Carswell was placing sick animals into adoptions with Connecticut and Rhode Island residents through her Nick of Time rescue business, the Department of Agriculture’s animal control unit conducted a sting operation with the assistance of Madison police and animal control officers."

Undercover officers met with Carswell in a Madison commuter parking lot under the auspices of purchasing a dog, Revickzy said.

Ten cats and two dogs were seized after being transported in dirty enclosures covered with feces and urine. The cats exhibited symptoms of respiratory distress. All of the animals were taken immediately to an area veterinarian for examination.

Two cats had to be euthanized because of illness, according to the release.

“The Department of Agriculture has no tolerance for cruelty to animals or importation of sick animals into Connecticut,” said Commissioner Reviczky said in the release. “We take these issues very seriously and will continue to pursue prosecution of offenders under state law. It is our goal to eradicate the needless suffering of innocent pets, as well as the severe emotional and financial hardship their new families inevitably face after unknowingly adopting seriously ill animals.”

Carswell was charged with 12 counts of cruelty to animals, 12 counts of failing to have official interstate animal health certificates, failure to register as an animal importer, failure to notify the Department of Agriculture of an animal adoption event, operating a pet shop without a license, and failure to have animals examined by a veterinarian prior to adoption.

She was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to be in New Haven Superior Court on February 4, 2014.

liz January 27, 2014 at 02:43 PM
Does the animal control officer need any help? I would love to help walking dogs or anything she needed.
Connie Packard Kamedulski January 27, 2014 at 02:47 PM
At least the pet stores in Connecticut operate under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture and are licensed and inspected.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 02:48 PM
Liz, great question. I asked too. Fran says she will let us know as soon as she does need help, but I'll also pass on your offer of help to walk or care for the dogs. Email me at pem.mcnerney@patch.com with your contact info.
Laura G. January 27, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Of course I feel terribly sorry for the animals, but was this woman trying to help? There are so many wonderful animals euthanized everyday that could be great pets. I know because adopted a rescue dog myself. No excuse for the poor condition, of course, but my heart goes out to her.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 03:14 PM
Laura, that's a good question and at this point we have no way of knowing. Of course this case has to go to court and be adjudicated and all that.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 03:15 PM
Still, speaking in general, if you try to help and you make things worse, that's not helpful. The animals, in the pictures, do look as though they were suffering.
Beth Crowley January 27, 2014 at 05:56 PM
My first rescue came from Georgia through a CT adoption event. Three months and $3,000 later our sweet pup had to be put down due to distemper that he was never vaccinated for. Since then the group who sponsors the events have strict protocols in place and no animal enters the state or their event without being given a clean bill of health. We did go on to adopt another dog from this group with much success and three checks by vets before we adopted. I do not recommend adopting sight unseen from rescues online. You need to be sure the rescue is reputable and if from our of state follows CT pet importation laws!
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 06:46 PM
I had very good luck with a rescue from Texas. CT Nutmeg Rescue was the contact here. Great dog. There were some health issues that were disclosed, and ultimately resolved. And it's true that people who get dogs from pet stores and breeders sometimes have problems too. It does make sense to check it out, make sure the rescue is reputable, and following applicable state laws, and then hope for the best.
Lisa Denise Lammers January 27, 2014 at 07:46 PM
Im sorry. But, my heart does not go out to this woman! If she really cared about these animals, they would not be in this condition!!!!
Laura G. January 27, 2014 at 08:19 PM
You could well be right, but those animals are here now and being cared for. What if they were not. We should not be so quick to judge.
Pem McNerney (Editor) January 27, 2014 at 09:43 PM
Given the condition of the animals, it's good that this woman won't be doing this anymore, whatever her intentions, so kudos to the MPD and state DOA for setting up the operation. And I think compassion for all involved, people and animals, seems like it might be a good thing here.
Lisa Denise Lammers January 27, 2014 at 10:54 PM
Not judging!! There are 2 cats that aren't here!!!!! If you read correctly, two had to be euthanized!
Ottie and Bub January 28, 2014 at 03:44 AM
She has transported 1000's of animals from Georgia and North Carolina to CT and RI in the last couple of years. There have been many other complaints about animals she has brought in being sick or traveling in nasty conditions. The Department of Agriculture in Georgia claims they have no authority when she takes animals out of the state. She is a licensed rescue in Georgia. I am glad the Department of Agriculture in CT caught up with her . Hopefully she will stop for good now and no more dogs and cats will die because of her not getting them veterinary care.
Hopkins hill parent January 28, 2014 at 09:52 AM
Maybe you should open your eyes to what is happening down south....animals once in a shelter have 72 hours to live.....go on Facebook ny urgents or Floyd county in Georgia who kill everyday......lee has saved thousands and these animals were going to a foster home where they could get better then adopted...don't throw stones without knowing what the truth is
Lisa Denise Lammers January 28, 2014 at 11:19 AM
Well, I guess you are calling me a hypocrite! That's fine. I know what is happening in the South and the rest of the country. Sounds like the people of Georgia should know the truth. This woman has broken the law. 12 counts of animal cruelty. The cages were filthy. No excuse for that. I guess you think breaking the law is fine. Drop all charges I suppose. Again, I know more of the truth than you think I do!!!!!!!

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