Jury deliberates animal cruelty charges



On Dec. 20, attorneys delivered their closing statements in the trial of a woman who was arrested in December 2005 and is facing cruelty charges related to reportedly keeping 84 dogs, 26 birds, seven cats, four ducks, and a goat in and around her Edna Valley home.

The fate of Cynthia Walsh charged with six counts of animal cruelty, plus three misdemeanor charges is now in the jury's hands. Walsh pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The prosecutor, Nancy Fede, argued that Walsh knew her home was unsafe and unsanitary. Fede claimed that Walsh's animals suffered from matted and urine-stained fur, overgrown nails, flea infestations, and dental disease while in her care.

"She was cited in 2002 for unsanitary conditions," Fede added. "Her failure to act caused these animals to suffer needlessly."

However, Walsh's attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, argued that his client loved and took better care of her animals than did County Animal Services. He contended that at least seven animals perished, one dog was raped, and another dog lost an eye while in the care of the county.

"When our government points a finger at one of us, saying, 'You're breaking the law,' they should follow the law," Funke-Bilu said. "Our government sets the bar. Animal Services treated her animals like dirt, like garbage. Cindy loved those animals."

SLO County Animal Services Manager Erik Anderson has said that he couldn't respond to allegations while the trial was in progress.

Walsh potentially faces up to six years and four months in jail. The jury had not returned a verdict as of press time.


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