OTTUMWA — Police executed yet another search warrant late last week in an animal welfare case, the fourth major incident in the area since mid-February.

Ottumwa Police Animal Resource Officer Jeff Williams said neighbors complained about conditions at the home of Shirley Bagg at 1018 E. Second St. Police filed for a search warrant and went to the home at about 11:30 a.m. Friday. They found 10 dogs and two cats in the home.

Williams said the number of animals was not as stunning as those in other recent raids, but the conditions were still very unsanitary. Police arrested Bagg, 58, and charged her with failure to ensure sanitation of the premises, exceeding the number of animals restricted, failure to license a dog and confining animals.

Williams said the confinement charge stems from the lack of water for the dogs.

The animal restrictions charge is unusual. Williams said police filed it because they went to Bagg’s home in January 2007 for similar complaints. They found 13 dogs at that time and Bagg faced almost identical charges. At that time, she pleaded guilty and paid $400 in fines plus court costs.

Ottumwa code restricts the number of animals in a home to what the owner can care for.

“She had too many animals to take care of,” Williams said. “The house was placarded by the health department because of the large amount of animal waste.”

That happened in 2007 as well. Williams said Bagg apparently brought the home back up to code and was allowed to move back in. He said she was living in the home legally.

Friday’s arrest follows two cases that brought officers to private homes and one that shut down a pet store in Ottumwa. Williams attributed the surge in cases to people calling the police department and complaining about conditions at homes in their neighborhoods.

People generally know about the deteriorating conditions, especially when the smell begins to grow.

“These cases don’t get like that overnight,” Williams said.

There are other cases coming, according to Williams. Each case takes time as officers apply for warrants and process the information gathered from each location.

That lag also gives people time to clean up properties. Williams said he would much rather see that happen with some of the reports he has received than have to file charges.

Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at mwmilner@mchsi.com

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