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CONTACT 13: Dog rescuer charged with felony animal cruelty

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 22:18:14-05

The cops call it cruelty. The accused calls it mismanagement. But all can agree it's rescue gone wrong. 

Contact 13 has been following the case of 18 dogs that has now resulted in criminal charges.

RELATED: Judge speaks from heart in case of 18 dogs

"Life's not living without... It's like a house without windows."

That's how Teri Askew describes life without her dogs. 

But the life she had with her dogs has gotten her into big trouble. Jude, Lilah Jane, Bella, Jester, Lola and McDaniel are the furry faces behind the six felony counts of cruelty Askew is now facing.

"I think it's insane. I can't believe it. For somebody who's innocent, it's hard to let your brain absorb this."

A self-proclaimed dog rescue catering to animals with special needs, Askew has been charged in connection with six of the 18 dogs Clark County Animal Control seized from her home on Oct. 21.

"People were giving me these dogs, you know. I didn't get here by myself," Askew said, despite knowing she could only have three.

Police records say she "willfully and maliciously tortured and injured" the dogs by "failing to provide proper sustenance and basic medical care, causing them to suffer extreme weight loss and unnecessary pain."

"I disagree 10,000 percent," Askew said. "They were receiving treatment. I followed the guidance of my vet. There wasn't any need for any changes to their treatment. The only concern is the diet."

She fed the dogs a diet of raw meat. No kibble or commercial dog food. She says the raw diet keeps them lean, but police records describe the dogs as malnourished and underweight. Some emaciated, even starving.

Askew says skinny, but not malnourished. But she admit maybe not enough food, or not enough of the right food contributed to their appearance.

Askew says she is guilty of having too many dogs.

Police records say the "smell of rotten meat was overwhelming" in the freezers where she kept the dogs' food. 

Police also say she agreed some were underweight and she was overwhelmed. And that the dogs were in need of medical care but she couldn't afford it.  

"They've been seen by a vet. So maybe they haven't been in two or three years. They don't need to go," she insists.

Askew says she's not a hoarder. She's committed her life to helping dogs no one else wants and she still hopes to get some of them back.

"I have proof that I made their lives better. That's the thing."

Askew was released from jail on her own recognizance. She's now on house arrest and not allowed to possess any animals. 

Her case goes back to court on Jan. 31.