Police said they found the animals in the trailer home of Ana Ramos, a 56-year-old resident of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, during an investigation of a possible hit-and-run incident in the trailer park off El Camino Real. Officers noticed a strong animal stench and heard loud barking coming from several dogs within the trailer.
Police tried to get in to the building, but Ramos refused to let them in, police Lt. Sandra Brown said. When an animal-control officer arrived to investigate, Ramos allegedly pushed the officer and argued that she only owns eight dogs. The officer observed 12 dogs from the doorway, Brown said. The city's municipal code allows for a maximum of three dogs per household.
While holding two small dogs, Ramos allegedly resisted the officer's effort to take her into custody. Once she was restrained, police searched her 32-foot-long trailer home and found 25 dogs and 17 cats, including a group of cats crammed into a tiny bathroom.
The animal-control officer found only one box of food and a single water bowl in the trailer home, Brown said. Animal waste was scattered all over the floor, she said.
Police arrested Ramos and charged her with resisting arrest, assault on an officer and a myriad of charges relating to animal cruelty. The animals were taken to the Palo Alto Animal Services shelter, where they were recuperating this week. Some of the animals were underweight or dehydrated, while others suffered from urine burns, ear mites, ringworms and other ailments, police said.
One of the cats had to have rectal surgery shortly after arrival, according to Sandi Stadler, superintendent of Palo Alto Animal Services. The shelter, which typically houses about 75 animals during the summer, is currently accommodating all the animals and sorting out their medical conditions.
Stadler said the animals' ages, breeds and conditions range widely, with several appearing "in fair health." She said the shelter chose to keep many of the animals together because they're used to living as a social group.
"We didn't isolate them because that would have been hard on them mentally," Stadler said. "As we get into the swing of the things, things will ease up as some of the medical issues we're treating will become easier to deal with."
Stadler said last week's animal-rescue operation is the largest one she can recall involving cats and dogs. Several years ago, the shelter had to temporarily take care of 500 tiny turtles that were confiscated from a vendor at a local fair. The vendor allegedly didn't know that those turtles were too small to be sold legally, Stadler said.
Ramos has been released on bail prior to arraignment.
TALK ABOUT IT
What can be done about cases of hoarding, whether of animals or of goods? Share your opinion on Town Square, the community discussion forum on Palo Alto Online.