Deputies arrest woman wanted on multiple animal-neglect charges

By: - January 17, 2023 5:22 pm

These are two of the dogs that a pet rescue organization took from the home of Michelle Evans, an Iowa woman who faces 14 counts of animal neglect in Cass and Adair counties. (Photos courtesy of AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport)

Authorities have apprehended a central Iowa woman who disappeared last fall after being charged with 14 counts of animal neglect.

Court records indicate Michelle Renee Evans, 57, was arrested Monday at an Adair County residence. In addition to the animal-neglect charges, Evans is facing charges of failure to appear in court and violating the terms of her pretrial release agreement.

Evans is being held on a cash-only bond of $20,000, according to Adair County District Court records. The records indicate that in recent years Evans has lived in the towns of Bridgewater in Adair County, and Anita in Cass County.

Evans was first arrested in March 2021. At that time, police alleged that in July 2020, a friend of Evans had transported nine of Evans’ dogs to AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport in DeSoto, to give them up for adoption.

According to police reports, Amy Heinz, the executive director of the rescue operation, told officers that all nine dogs had “horribly matted fur” that was infested with fleas. One dog had to be taken to an animal hospital for a blood transfusion due to flea-bite anemia.

The next day, members of the pet rescue went to Evans’ property in Bridgewater in response to a request to take away seven additional dogs, five of which had to be taken to a pet hospital in Des Moines for treatment. Dr. Alexandria Baltes, a veterinarian at the hospital, told police she believed several of the dogs she treated had sustained “serious injury” as defined by Iowa law.

A few days later, police executed a search warrant at Evans’ Bridgewater property and found “excessive animal waste” inside the home. At least 33 live dogs and 12 dead dogs were removed from the property, according to court records.

Adair County authorities charged Evans with six counts of animal neglect causing unjustified pain, distress or suffering, resulting in serious injury or death. Cass County authorities charged Evans with eight counts of animal neglect with injury.

Evans pleaded guilty to all six counts in the Adair County case, and pleaded not guilty in the Cass County case.

In July 2022, the Department of Correctional Services informed the Adair County court it could not locate Evans to complete a presentence investigation. A warrant was issued for Evans’ arrest in that case.

That same month, in the Cass County case, another warrant was issued for Evans’ arrest, this time for failure to appear for a pretrial conference.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.