Charges dropped against Animal Advocates founder

The Carroll County State's Attorney's Office plans to dismiss all animal abuse charges against Animal Advocates of Carroll County founder Laura Shenk.

The State's Attorney's Office will drop the charges lodged by the Carroll County Humane Society at Shenk's hearing in District Court on Tuesday, according to a news release from the office.


Shenk was charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty, one count of animal cruelty, three counts of animal cruelty failure: provide, one count of obstructing and hindering, and three counts of failing to provide a proper dog shelter, according to electronic court records.

Animal Control began an investigation in February after a veterinarian called the Humane Society of Carroll County because she was concerned about a cat that was in her care.

The veterinarian told animal control Shenk had brought a cat to the emergency room because of a severe infection at the site of a recent surgical amputation. The veterinarian told Shenk the cat would die without immediate care and that another humane option would be euthanasia. Shenk left with the cat, according to the statement of charges.

Animal Control Officer Ed Smith went to Shenk's residence and removed the cat, which was taken to an animal hospital and ultimately put down because it could not be weaned from oxygen, according to charging documents. Smith returned to Shenk's residence two more times to inspect several dogs there and removed several dogs from the home due to unfit conditions, he said in his charging documents.

The State's Attorney's Office reviewed the relevant documents in the investigation and spoke to several sources before deciding to dismiss the charges, according to the release.

"We take any allegations of animal abuse extremely seriously, and that is why I had senior prosecutors carefully evaluate these criminal charges. After reviewing in detail the investigation performed by a member of the Carroll County Humane Society, however, we had concerns over the manner in which this investigation was handled both before and after charges were lodged," State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said in the release.

Charles Brown, the executive director of the Humane Society of Carroll County, said the humane society will go forward with a replevin hearing, which will determine whether Shenk can get her 11 dogs back or if they will stay at the humane society. If the hearing is ruled in the favor of the humane society, the dogs will be re-homed, Brown said.

The humane society is not investigating Smith, Brown said.

Shenk's attorney, Anne Benaroya, confirmed that there is a replevin hearing and that it was filed before the charges were officially brought against Shenk.

"Well it's a good thing [the charges were dropped.] I don't think she's complaining," Benaroya said.

Shenk is scheduled to appear in the District Court on Tuesday at 9 a.m.