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Publish Date: 3/1/2005

Seizures prompt suicide threat

DEL CAMINO — A Dacono woman distraught over the confiscation of dozens of her diseased cats was taken into protective custody Monday afternoon after she threatened suicide, police said.

Police took Pamela Flanders into custody at the Days Inn at Colo. Highway 119 and Interstate 25 about 1:30 p.m. after she called police about the confiscation Friday of her “babies,” said Dacono police Chief Tom Davis.

“She said we took her babies away,” Davis said, “and had no reason to live.”

Flanders is being kept under observation for 72 hours at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.

Flanders became the subject of widespread media attention, after Dacono police descended upon her trailer home Friday. Police officers, public health workers, firefighters and animal control experts wearing hazmat gear began trapping cats Friday afternoon. They’ve captured 25 so far.

Neighbor Estancia Espindole said removal of the cats puts the end to a problem that has been going on for at least two years.

“It’s a lot better now,” she said.

Davis said he didn’t know about the cat problems at the house until recently.

In June 2004, Dacono police cited Almon “Bud” Flanders, Pamela Flanders’ husband, for having more than the allowed three cats on his property. The charge was dismissed in July when it went to court.

Davis said that June 2004 incident was his department’s first contact with the Flanders about the cats. Neighbors called the fire department because they thought they smelled smoke; it turned out to be the smell of cat excrement, Davis said.

In June, Bud Flanders was also cited for trash, weeds and junk autos in the yard, according to Dacono Police Department records.

The town’s prosecuting attorney threw out the cat charge in a plea agreement when Bud Flanders said he had gotten rid of four cats. He pleaded guilty to two of the other charges.

The records do not say how many cats lived at the home, and a call to the attorney’s office was not returned.

After that incident, Davis said his department had no contact with the Flanders until Feb. 22, when a neighbor called the Weld County Department of Health and Environment to complain about cats urinating blood and a bad odor emanating from the house.

Weld County health official Cindi Etcheverry said the fact that a 17-year-old boy lived at the house raised a red flag.

Davis said Dacono community resource officer Kelli Revoir visited the home and found several sick cats infected with ringworm and at least one missing its eyes because of an advanced case of feline herpes.

When confronted by police Feb. 22, Pamela Flanders agreed to get rid of most of her cats, and even gave police a key to her home, Davis said.

But that cooperation ended when police discovered Pamela Flanders was wanted on an unrelated outstanding warrant, and arrested her. She was freed, but stopped helping police, Davis said.

At that point, Davis said he and his officers had no other choice but to get a search warrant to enter the trailer and capture the cats on Feb. 25.

Though feline herpes and ringworm aren’t considered hazardous materials, he said a hazmat team was necessary to protect people entering the home.

Ringworm is an infectious disease, Etcheverry said, but it spreads by direct contact, not through the air.

Officials have trapped 25 animals since Friday, two of which have been euthanized because of herpes. The blind cat spotted by Revoir on Feb. 22 was euthanized that day. Animal control officials will continue trapping cats today.

Pamela and Bud Flanders are likely to face charges including animal cruelty, Davis said.

Bud Flanders’ plea bargain from the citation in June could also be revoked, he said.

Douglas Crowl can be reached at 303-684-5253, or by e-mail at dcrowl@times-call.com.

Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at thughes@times-call.com.



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