Woman cited for animal neglect

LAWRENCEVILLE - More than 70 animals were taken from a local woman's home this week.

Animal control officers had been called out to the Lawrenceville home of Mariam Emily Morris several times over the past three years regarding concerns of animal hoarding and neglect, said Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Tuesday, Morris was issued 78 citations for animal neglect after officers found many dogs in cages throughout her house, garage and car.

Moloney said animal control officers originally responded to a call about an injured dog running loose near Morris' home at 368 Hearth Place, but that animal was never found.

Morris, 40, used to be licensed through the state of Georgia to house stray and neglected animals. Moloney said he did not know how long it had been since she was licensed.

Officers found no signs of parvo, a contagious virus that Moloney said is often present in neglect cases, but the dogs did have unhealthy coats and lacked food and water, Moloney said. There were a variety of breeds kept at the house.

Morris, who was released with the citations, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Animal Control Officer Jason Cannon said as of Friday, only seven of the dogs remained at the county's animal shelter. The rest had been distributed to various rescue organizations.

Cannon said 78 animals were a large number for a neglect case.

"We've just been out there trying to work with her, trying to get her numbers down," he said.

The county's HazMat team was needed to test ammonia levels through the house when the dogs were rescued, Moloney said. Some were still being treated for minor upper respiratory ailments caused by ammonia exposure, he said.