Bayou Road man charged on 32 counts of animal cruelty; property condemned

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

Meter readers' complaints of a dog chasing them led to the arrest last week of a Bayou Road man on animal cruelty charges, Iberville Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. "Lucky" Songy Jr. said.

Songy said Iberville Animal Control officers investigating the readers' complaints found the skeletal and decomposing remains of several dogs at the residence of Warren A. Backus, 31, of 65215 Bayou Road, Plaquemine.

Backus has been charged with 32 counts of cruelty to animals, and as of Monday was being held on a $50,000 bond set by District Judge Robin Free, records showed.

Iberville Animal Control officers went to investigate the dog problem after Water District No. 3-meter readers reported a dog chasing them when they tried to do their work, said Songy, who oversees Animal Control as part of his job.

"They noticed extremely foul odors and malnourished dogs," the CAO said.

Songy and Animal Control met with Iberville Sheriff's officials and returned to the property.

"They walked around the property and saw a few dead dogs -- skeletal and decomposing remains with maggots," he said.

Animal Control seized several dogs held in small cages with no food or water, along with three goats that were feeding on grass and appeared to be healthy, Songy said.

Maj. Johnny Blanchard of the Iberville Sheriff's Office said deputies initially arrested Backus on one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, and added 31 counts of cruelty to animals after executing a search warrant the next morning.

"We found more dead animals in the house," Blanchard said.

Songy said a veterinarian who examined the dogs found them to be in "very poor health" and "in need of some serious veterinary care." Some of the dogs might be infected heartworms, he said.

"A veterinarian will have to make a decision on treatment or euthanasia," Songy said.

He said Animal Control has contacted rescue organizations about helping find homes for the animals that can be saved.

District Judge Alvin Batiste Jr. signed the warrant allowing the search of the property, and authorizing a clean up of the property, including the removal of junk cars there, Songy said.

"Junk cars were spread all over the property," he said.

The parish Solid Waste Department removed all the dead animals and placed the bones and tissue into special containers, which the parish garbage contractor, SWIDI removed, the CAO said.

He said the parish-building inspector subsequently condemned the building.