GREAT FALLS — A woman has been charged with several counts of animal cruelty.
Charges were filed last week against Pamela Jo Polejewski after investigators discovered dozens of dogs, cats, goats, ducks, horses, birds, and other animals that appeared to be living in various stages of neglect or abuse on her property west of Great Falls and just south of Sun Prairie.
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter told MTN News on Thursday, “The County Attorney’s office has also filed an animal welfare petition.”
Court documents say a search warrant found dozens of animals in various stages of abuse and neglect. The following animals were seized: 52 dogs, 19 cats, 14 goats, 11 horses, 29 chickens, 21 waterfowl, 12 rabbits, 3 turkeys, 6 pigs, 1 tortoise, 1 ferret, 1 cockatiel, 2 parakeets, and 1 fish.
“Some of the animals are being cared for at Montana ExpoPark, with larger animals at a separate undisclosed location. The animals are being humanely housed and are being seen by a veterinarian,” Slaughter said.
At this point, the county is not requesting donations or assistance in caring for the animals; we will let you know if that changes.
Polejewski is scheduled to appear before Judge Greg Pinski on Tuesday, May 26th at 11 a.m. The hearing is open to the public. Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki says the animals could be put up for adoption pending results of the animal welfare hearing.
This is at least the third time Polejewski has faced similar charges in a courtroom; the outcome of one of the previous cases was a temporary ban on being allowed to own animals. However, Racki says the state has no control over a person’s actions once they complete their sentence. “She had served her last sentence and since then she’s gathered more animals,” he said.
Polejewski faced similar charges and animal seizures in 2005 and in 2012 in Great Falls. In 2008, officials found more than two dozen animals on her property in Libby after she was temporarily ordered not to possess any animals as part of a suspended sentence.
MTN News has tried to contact Polejewski for comment, but she has not returned our calls.
Polejewski is disputing all charges and claims she operates a no-kill shelter that takes in animals who are already in bad health. Court documents state that “Hooves Paws and Claws” was involuntarily dissolved by the Secretary of State in December 2018.
She has also filed a civil suit against Cascade County alleging that her rights have been violated and requesting that the animals be returned to her, along with financial compensation. Her suit alleges trespassing, malicious prosecution, unreasonable search and seizure, due process violations, religious liberty violations, free speech violations, conspiracy, warrantless entry to property, and more.
Polejewski said in a letter to Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki: "I have many dogs, cats, goats, horses and other animals. Many of these animals were neglected when I adopted them. Many are aged and fragile. I have many people, including veterinarians, that can attest to my diligent care for these animals. I love my animals and have committed my life and all my resources to caring for them. Many people, out of the goodness of their hearts, help support me financially in the care of these animals."
She added that her animals are rescue animals, “many were broken and injured (physically and emotionally) from the abuse or neglect by their former owners; or they were simply abandoned to a life of starvation and depravity."
The charging documents include the following statements:
- Law enforcement saw many dogs in multiple makeshift kennels throughout the property. The kennels were not suitable for the dogs to live in. Garbage was piled against the kennels, in the kennels, and on the ground spread out across the property. It did not appear the dogs had food. Some dogs had hay scattered on the ground as a floor, but most of the dogs were living in mud from the rain. Multiple ducks and geese were in the same type of environment as the dogs in makeshift fenced areas with a plastic pool with no water in it. No feed for the waterfowl was seen.
- Law enforcement noticed a cage full of kittens, multiple small fenced areas with dogs, more dogs running loose on the property, and goats running loose on the property. The cage full of kittens appeared to have so many kittens they barely had any room to move around. The floor of the cage was not visible due to the number of kittens present.
- The veterinarian found a mini-horse on the property whose feet had not been cared for and were so long that they had curled, causing deformities to the horse. The veterinarian also found inside one of the trailers a deceased bloated dog with a necrotic mouth. There was also a cage containing five kittens, a pot-bellied pig, and four puppies running around in their own feces. The veterinarian stated that the trailer confinement was cruel to the animals as there was no food or water, the animals were confined with the dead dog and an over-abundance of fecal matter, and they were unable to escape the trailer.
- An adult dog was removed from the trailer that had a severely disfigured face due to an infection; the veterinarian elected to immediately euthanize the dog to end its suffering.
- Inside the personal residence of Pamela, investigators were confronted again with the smell of urine and feces. Inside were 10 dogs, one of which was locked in a kennel without water or food. They discovered a tortoise that was sideways in a cage leaning on the wall. The animal appeared very dry and did not appear to have any food or water. Another veterinarian examined the tortoise and said it suffered injury to its shell and injuries to its legs, likely due to the cage.
- Many of the cats/kittens were suffering from eye infections that if left untreated can result in the loss of the eye(s).