Just when I thought my nightmares were under control, I find this: a woman in Glen Burnie, Maryland, named Kelly Schreck (her last name, appropriately, is the German word for “terror,” akin to the Yiddish word שרעק, meaning “fear”), who last Thursday was sentenced in one of the most horrific cases of animal abuse I’ve ever read about.
I have no doubt whatsoever that she was clinically depressed, as she claimed. She suffered two miscarriages, and while she was in jail (I don’t know how she ended up there), her husband served her divorce papers. So she probably flipped out a bit. I know a thing or two about depression, and how devastating it can be, how you can shut down emotionally.
But when you read the details of the case, I think you’ll agree that the punishment—three years in prison plus three years of probation—is more than reasonable. The authorities had intervened with Schreck several times previously for animal regulation infractions, but the scene that greeted an officer last June 13, responding to an anonymous tip, was beyond gut-wrenching.
No one answered the door, but the officer saw an emaciated Harlequin Great Dane sprawled on a bed surrounded by his own waste and trash, according to court documents. After smelling decaying flesh and seeing flies and blood splattered on the outside basement walls, police said, she called for backup.
Fearing the owner might be dead, officers forced their way into the home and found five Great Danes and a German shepherd in the basement. The only one alive was a malnourished black male Great Dane locked inside a wire cage with a dead dog. They found three other malnourished dogs and four very skinny cats upstairs.
Some of the dogs had been dead for over two months. All died of starvation.
It would be a few more days before they could arrest Kelly Schreck. She was up in New York, vacationing with her new boyfriend.
I’ll spare you any further details, except to say that all but one of the emaciated animals recovered and some are doing quite nicely indeed. But you may be interested to read of the ex-husband’s role in this mess, or the plaintiff’s and attorneys’ reactions to the decision.
I don’t think I’m going to sleep very well tonight.