Couple accused of animal cruelty ordered to pay for dogs’ care

WOODSTOCK – A Spring Grove couple who had 17 Great Danes seized from the home they rented has until Nov. 5 to pay back thousands of dollars spent by McHenry County Animal Control to care for the dogs.

Patricia and Sal Messina have been charged with 17 misdemeanor counts of violating the Humane Care for Animals Act. The dogs were taken by county officials Sept. 27.

Several days before, Woodstock-based Great Dane Rescue Midwest took control of an additional nine female dogs.

Animal Control officials have said that many of the dogs were severely malnourished and living in feces.

According to court documents, the cost of care for the dogs at Animal Control through Oct. 9 was $5,203.98. The estimated expense for the next 30 days is $8,576.45.

The Messinas’ attorney, Brian K. Wright, said he expected the court to order some sort of security bond, although he contested the amount Animal Control officials were requesting.

For example, Animal Control receives discounted prices on dog food, he said.

As a result, Judge Robert Wilbrandt set the figure at $15 per dog per day, making the cost for 30 days $7,650.

Wright declined to comment on whether the Messinas could pay.

A breeder from Pennsylvania has claimed ownership of four of the dogs, but said she had no knowledge of the alleged abuse.

Susan Fioravanti-Weaver was in McHenry County to testify at a hearing Tuesday and said she would be willing to pay the cost for those dogs.

“Those dogs are my babies,” Weaver said.

Wilbrandt Jr. also ruled that the dogs must remain in Animal Control’s custody until the charges against the Messinas are resolved, but said Weaver could have possession of them.

Wright compared the situation to a parent who sends kids to a neighbor’s house to spend the night.

The parents – Animal Control in the dog situation – still have the ultimate say in decision-making.

Animal Control spokesman Debra Quackenbush said the agency is reviewing the court order.

A status check on the case has been scheduled for Nov. 7. The Messinas’ next scheduled court date on the criminal charges is Nov. 20.

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