Archived Story

Names released in Niles animal cruelty case

Published 10:21am Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Niles Police have released the names of two people arrested Friday in Niles for alleged animal cruelty.

Brothers Don and Ron Wheeler are each facing a preliminary charge of felony animal cruelty of 10 or more animals, according to Det. Chad Mitchell, of the Niles Police Department. The brothers bonded out Saturday and are awaiting arraignment.

Mitchell said a total of 10 cats were found at a residence belonging to the Wheelers at 925 S. 14th St. in Niles Thursday and Friday. One cat was found dead.

The cats were evaluated by a veterinarian are being held at Berrien County Animal Control. Val Grimes, animal control director, said the cats are currently in good condition and that several kittens would likely become available for adoption.

However, Grimes said the cats are evidence and must remain with animal control until the incident plays out in court.

Animal cruelty involving 10 or more animals carries a potential penalty of imprisonment for up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000.

Don was arrested Friday morning, while Ron was arrested Friday evening.

Police were called to the home Thursday evening after a neighbor found a sick cat in her driveway.

Police arrived to find a dead cat on the 925 S. 14th St. property, but they could not make contact with the owners. Police returned Friday morning with a warrant to search the home. Nine cats were found Friday with the help of the Niles Fire Department and code enforcement officials.

Mitchell described the condition of the home as “probably the worst I’ve ever seen.”

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