ASCENSION PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The man facing 33 counts of animal cruelty in Ascension Parish remains locked up after deputies discovered dozens of dogs living in awful conditions on his property.
The 9News Investigators have learned this is not the first time deputies have responded to that same home about the dogs and a previous run-in with law enforcement is actually being credited with leading deputies to the awful discovery.
“We don’t know what started the argument. We don’t know necessarily how the argument finished, but obviously with that arrest and him going to jail on those charges, but we don’t know the extent of what they were arguing about," said Allison Hudson, public information officer for the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The abandoned property on dead end Martin Road in Ascension Parish is falling apart, with holes in the roof of the home, trash and buckets scattered all across the yard, a broken down camper wasting away in one spot, and assorted trash hanging in bags in a tree out front. It’s the horrible conditions APSO deputies say they found more than 30 dogs living in on Saturday, Jan. 18. One of the animals was found dead.
“Dogs were just kind of roaming the area,” said Hudson. “We didn’t see any food or water for these dogs so it was just really horrid conditions.”
Tommy West, 50, remains locked up facing several animal cruelty charges while the dogs are being treated and cared for at Cara’s House animal shelter. The shelter’s president, Reagan Daniel, tells WAFB’s Scottie Hunter all of the dogs rescued from the home are underweight and it will be a challenge over the next few weeks to get them healthy.
“They are full of parasites just from living in the nasty conditions and they’re full of all kind of intestinal worms,” said Daniel. “They have bite wounds all over them because anytime you have that many dogs and you don’t have enough food, they’re going to fight, so a lot of them has infected open wounds.”
Daniel says the good thing is they were able to step in when they did and the dogs are now getting the help they need.
“They’ve now been vaccinated and they’ve been started on de-wormer,” said Daniel. “They’re on flea prevention now and they’re on heart worm prevention now, so it’ll be a little bit of a journey to get them back healthy, but they will get there.”
This animal cruelty case is not the first time West has been in trouble because of issues with his dogs. Hudson tells WAFB deputies have been called out to the property a few times.
"We got an anonymous complaint about the dogs being aggressive," said Hudson.
According to arrest records obtained by the 9News Investigators, West was picked up in September of 2018 and charged with aggravated assault and battery after investigators say a disagreement over the dogs escalated into a wild fight with two of his neighbors. West allegedly went over to a neighbor’s house demanding to talk with them about the dogs. When the woman who lived there and her father refused to talk, the report says West pulled out a rusty machete and cut the man in the head before turning the blade on the woman. The report goes on to say West threatened the woman saying, “I will f*cking cut you, you b*tch.” After the threat, the report says West ran into the woods and left the other man lying in the middle of the street bleeding.
“We don’t know what the conversation between the two subjects were regarding the dogs at that point,” said Hudson.
A few months before the machete incident, officers showed up for a noise complaint. West was cited in February of 2018 for an ordinance violation because he did not have current registration or vaccines for the animals.
“So he was issued a summons and obviously he did not go to court and so that’s why the bench warrants were active,” said Hudson.
It was the same warrant from 2018 that brought deputies back to his home over the weekend. Hudson believes had they not checked in on West over the warrant, those dogs living on his property might still be in danger.
“We had not received calls in the area about the living conditions of the dogs or any complaints, so it was strictly because of this deputy doing proactive work.”
Anyone interested in helping out the animals at the shelter can find a wish list of items they need most on their Facebook page.