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CONTACT 13: Rescuer turned hoarder wants seized dogs back

Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 22:48:14-05

It's a story that's haunted a District Court judge and left a valley woman fraught with emotion. 

Now, the fate of 18 dogs seized from a rescuer-turned-hoarder is changing. 

RELATED: Seized dogs available for adoption

From the bench, District Court Judge Rob Bare told those gathered in the courtroom, "I don't think there's been a day where, somewhere along the way, I haven't thought about this case."

A case where the evidence is living, breathing and waiting.

"I thought there was the potentiality that maybe one -- or more than one -- might not make it through because of the condition that was related initially in the case," said Judge Bare.

Teri Askew has been under criminal investigation since members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Animal Cruelty Unit and officers from Clark County Animal Control seized her dogs on Oct. 21. 

The most you can have in a home is three. Teri Askew had 18. 

The Animal Foundation's notes show many came into the shelter severely underweight. Some also had infections and other physical ailments.

"I've dedicated my life to these dogs for years," said Askew. "And I understand that I was over the limit. I'm not denying that. However, they're special needs dogs. They have issues."

Many of those issues have been resolved since the dogs were impounded, according to court records.

"Lola gained 17 pounds," Judge Bare said, reading from the Animal Foundation's medical note spreadsheet.  "Bennie gained 18 pounds. Ear infection and lesions on feet are resolved."

The before and after pictures of the dogs stand in stark contrast, but Askew says looks can be deceiving.

"And now I look at some of the pictures and a couple are overweight and it's just, when I saw it, I'm like, horrified!"

She said some of the dogs have musculoskeletal deformities that necessitate them staying thin. She fed the dogs a raw diet -- which literally means raw meat. 

Askew admits some of the dogs didn't get enough food but worries about what they're eating now at the Animal Foundation.

"Kibble is different than raw. Raw fed dogs are natural, lean, look great, healthy. Kibble causes fat, bloated, blech!" she said, expressing a strongly held opinion.

Though the District Attorney is pondering possible felony cruelty charges against Askew, Judge Bare believes she had only good intentions.

"I'm convinced of that," he said. "That you never intended to harm the dogs."

He told her and the county that enough is enough. It's time for the dogs to get out of the shelter.

"It's not somebody's home, it's not a backyard, it's not children playing with these dogs."

To help with that, he called upon Contact 13.

"The best utility for Channel 13's effort here would be to send a message to the public. After you watch the news story, go get one!"

Twelve of the dogs are being made ready for public adoption. 

Askew was allowed to place a hold on the other six that she can get back if she gets a special permit. 

Of course that would change if she's charged.

"I do believe I should be given the opportunity to have some of these dogs back. I'm not a hateful person! I'm not a cruel person. And I will beat whatever charges come to me. I'll fight. I'm ready."

Please check out the photo gallery of the available dogs posted with this story and contact the Animal Foundation if you're interested in adopting.