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Animals removed from Dawn Hamill’s shelter near Tinley Park

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:36AM



Dazzle’s Painted Pastures Rescue and Sanctuary in Tinley Park is no longer providing shelter to unwanted dogs, cats, and other animals.

Animal Welfare League workers on Wednesday removed 27 dogs, nine cats, three miniature horses and two wolves from the facility after a judge on Tuesday ordered the owner, Dawn Hamill, to surrender all of the shelter’s animals except five of her own.

Her attorney, Purav Bhatt, said he made an appearance Wednesday morning at the Markham courthouse to clarify the time line for the removal of the animals and information on which agencies would be taking them.

Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, said Judge Anna H. Demacopoulos reiterated the order to remove the animals.

About 3 p.m., two Animal Welfare League vans and two trucks pulled up to the sanctuary property at 5555 W. 175th St., and workers began unloading cages.

Shortly thereafter, they began escorting or carrying cats and dogs from the rear of the property toward the cages and vehicles as the sound of whining and barking dogs filled the air. Hamill helped the workers, removing at least one dog from her house and putting it into a cage.

By 3:50 p.m., they had loaded up several animals and left the property.

Hamill declined comment, saying she was going back into her home to spend time with her family.

Linda Estrada, executive director of the Animal Welfare League, said the state’s attorney’s office and the Cook County sheriff’s office contacted the league about noon Wednesday to remove the animals.

Friends of the agency would visit Hamill’s property later Wednesday to take away horses, she said.

“We’re going to need a lot of help to help the animals. We need homes and we need help,” Estrada said.

She said Hamill had been “really cooperative” about having the animals removed.

“It’s a lot easier on everybody, including the animals, to do it calmly,” Estrada said.

At Hamill’s sentencing hearing Tuesday, Demacopoulos said Hamill met the state definition of an animal hoarder.

“Ms. Hamill may have a good heart and good intentions but she doesn’t have the mental ability to understand that the animals were kept in an unkind way,” she said.

She then told Hamill, “You insist you can do this on your own. But it’s not good for animals. It’s just not good for the animals.”

Hamill also was sentenced to one year on probation and ordered to pay an $8,000 fine, serve 30 days in the Cook County sheriff’s work alternative program and undergo a mental health evaluation.

Hamill’s shelter was raided in February 2011 by a sheriff’s department animal crimes unit. More than 100 animals were removed from the shelter, including a dead cat and a dead miniature horse.

Demacopoulos said video footage from the raid showed 30 to 40 animals were kept in one small room.

“Those animals are right on top of each other,” she said.

She said Illinois Department of Agriculture inspections of the shelter in June and August 2010 showed there wasn’t proper drainage, dogs were sleeping on gravel and proper adoption records weren’t being kept.

Hamill was convicted last month of eight misdemeanor counts of violation of owner’s duties.

Hamill said Tuesday she had four horses of her own and four others at the sanctuary; five of her own dogs and 15 to 20 others; and three llamas.

As the animals were being removed Wednesday, neighbor Al Yursis defended Hamill.

“I say she loves those animals,” he said. “I’ve never seen the horses back there not eating. She’s loved animals her whole life.

“You live by so many animals, you would think it would smell. But it doesn’t. She’s always cleaning, always working.”



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