NBC 7 Investigates has learned that the woman at the center of an elder abuse and animal neglect investigation in La Jolla wants her pets back.
On March 2, 19 dogs and cats were removed from a home on Avenida De Las Pescas, according to San Diego County Animal Services. Two animals were found dead, and a Chihuahua mix was discovered inside the garage freezer.
The million-dollar house was filled wall-to-wall with trash and clutter. The homeowner, 90-year-old Robert Stella, has been removed from the home. Victoria Turner is under investigation for possible elder abuse and animal neglect.
Of those 19 animals, investigators say six animals could not be rehabilitated and had to be euthanized. Of the 11 surviving animals, four have been adopted. Four dogs and three cats are currently in quarantine.
According to Animal Services, Turner has asked for an opportunity to plead her case and have these animals returned to her.
Officials say Turner is entitled to a hearing within 48 hours that would determine whether the confiscation of the animals was necessary. They say Turner waived the deadline and requested a new date.
“The owner has a right to go ahead and attain those animals back. She has a right to a hearing to determine the legality of the impoundment. She has requested a hearing and once that hearing is held, we will be able to determine whether the animals will be returned to her or not,” Animal Control Investigator Lt. Kalani Hudson explained.
An attorney employed by San Diego County will listen to the testimony, review the evidence and ultimately make the decision on whether or not the animals are returned.
Animal Control says Turner would also have to show proof she could provide proper housing and treatment of the animals and reimburse the shelter for its boarding and care since her pets have been impounded.
Animal Services says the animals are in good health and responding well. They have received veterinary care and are taking regular meals in a clean environment.
Turner did not return NBC 7’s calls for comment.