GAINESBORO — A Frederick County woman who ran an animal rescue shelter out of her home, which was damaged by fire on Friday, has been charged with 21 counts of animal cruelty.

The charges against Tammy Smith Barr are based on the condition of some of the puppies and adult dogs rescued during the fire and the condition of the one-floor, 2,052-square-foot home at 231 Gun Barrel Lane.

“There were hoarding conditions all through the house as well as dog urine and feces covering the floor all over the house,” Deputy Michelle R. Kitts of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a criminal complaint. “The odor of urine and feces overpowered the odor of the house fire.”

Barr, 58, was arrested on Tuesday. She appeared on Wednesday in Frederick General District Court and is free on a $2,500 bond. She is due back in court at 2 p.m. on Oct. 18.

No one was injured in the fire, which occurred in a wall and is believed to have been caused by an electrical problem related to an air conditioner, according to William E. Pifer III, a county assistant fire marshal. The fire caused an estimated $10,000 in damage. Pifer said “hoarding conditions” in the basement hampered firefighting efforts. Mark Fleet, county building official, said the house was declared uninhabitable due to the fire and the house being filled with feces and urine.

Kitts said one of the dogs had matted hair that had to be shaved off, and many of the 13 puppies rescued suffered from smoke inhalation. Kitts said 20 dogs — 13 puppies and seven adult dogs — were living in the home.

Oreo’s Rescue Legacy, a 501(c)3 non-profit group, operated out of the home. Last year, the group declared it had total revenue of $10,110 and expenses of $6,189, according to a report it submitted on Guidestar, a website that tracks nonprofits and not-for-profit groups.

“We strive to educate the community in proper dog ownership, spaying and neutering and the overall health of their pet,” the group’s mission statement said on Guidestar. “We strive to love and care for any animal we rescue. Our motto is ‘Love Happens Here.’”

Barr, who was convicted in November of inadequate animal care and three counts of dogs running at large, couldn’t be reached Wednesday evening. On Monday, Barr said she typically kept six dogs in the home. She said there had been 20 in the home for about two weeks because the people who adopted them returned them. Barr said she was in the process of finding new homes for the dogs when the fire happened.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

(9) comments

razorbkz

Too bad animal control doesn't offer equal protection under the law. If the law requires all dogs to be licensed then they should ticket those who have unlicensed dogs. If the law requires people to keep their dogs on their own property then animal control should ticket those who have dogs at large. Hard to see how they can pick and choose who they ticket.

Charmgirrl

When an animal rescuer is in trouble and doesn't have enough fosters to help, this is what happens. Then the 98% of the animal rescue world which are catty women that love tearing people down, instead of building them up and reaching out to help the rescue. They relish the thought of being the big hero by "Rescuing" the animals, when they should have been a hero by stepping up and helping the rescue that needed Thier help. Instead leave the troubled rescue to suffer and cause suffering to the animals. If the rescue community of mostly women would help when the trouble starts instead of waiting for suffrage and the opportunity to be the hero's. I work in animal rescue and know how other rescues are. They jump at the chance to takeall the glory instead of helping one of Thier own. They watch them drown and then ALL suffer. Shame on all of you for not stepping up and helping Tammy instead of being glory hounds. Why don't you "Resuers" step up and help save a rescue that needs help. Help her get a dumpster and Clear that place out to bare floors and walls? It's a happy day in the rescue community when they have a well known rescuer reduced to this drama and shame. Step up and help her you lame people. Helping her, would have helped the dogs. But today is your day of glory! Shame on all of you

Onlytoday

This is a good point, however; sometimes the best option is to encourage a rescuer to change their path. I don’t think any rescuer begins with a house full and overwhelmed. Sometimes mental health is behind the misguided choices and recently money. The public doesn’t understand that being approved as a 501(c)3 does not automatically make a charity ‘good’. I don’t know Ms Barr, but suspect she began with all the best intentions. Somewhere along the line, she became overwhelmed, probably avoided admitting it, for the very reason you state, catty rescuers that may have pointed out her weaknesses, or perhaps, a trail of successful climbs out of trouble. I hope this opens our eyes, that we more closely watch people who may be burying themselves for the accolades on FB, which dwindle the moment they fail.

The answer is not always to ‘step up’ and help, sometimes it is to ‘speak up’ and change. Today Facebook is full of rescues, some are well organized and have layers of people in place that can jump in as needed, others are just a few dedicated individuals and some rely on one person to be key. The latter is a recipe for disaster.

I do hope the rescues who have taken on these animals, are not relishing in Ms Barr’s dilemma, but rather feel a sense of compassion.

Slong0614

This is horrible! Thank you to the other Rescues for stepping up. I will certainly make a donation.

Chupacabra

Still no comment on how this woman was allowed to have dogs after being previously convicted of animal cruelty.

Concerned71

I hope the charges stick this time , lock her up and throw away the key .

kcinva

What happened to the dogs? Where are they now?

Off The Chain Animal Rescue

Other local rescue groups have begun taking over the care of these animals, ourselves included. The entire local animal rescue community has come together and we are all working together to ensure they are all getting the care they need, and ultimately finding them all a caring home to call their own forever.

JEngels

That's Gun Barrel Road, not Lane.

Welcome to the discussion.

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