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White Hall couple charged with animal cruelty

Distemper outbreak tied to 'Don't Be a Bully' rescue
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 18:14:21-04

WHITE HALL, Md. — Online ads for the stately rental in White Hall show an indoor swimming pool, but when animal control raided the property on two occasions it found the ‘Don’t Be a Bully’ rescue was really an unlicensed kennel with a total of 92 dogs---many of them gravely ill suffering in the heat.

27 of them would die from distemper.

“It’s respiratory. It’s GI. It’s neurological,” said Dr. Lucia Donatelli who treated some of the dogs and puppies. “I think seeing any animal being ill and then watching it succumb to its illness is upsetting to watch.”

Now, Rachel Evans and her boyfriend, Austin Duncan, face 61 separate animal abuse counts including allegations they tortured at least 18 of the animals by refusing to seek care for them when they knew they were ill.

Those charges alone could cost them more than 50 years behind bars if they’re convicted.

“So animals are not inventory and you have to treat them humanely and make sure they have proper veterinary care,” said Senior Trial Assistant Adam Lippe. “When you act as a ‘rescue’, that’s your job and you should know better. If you don’t treat animals well, then you get charged.”

Prosecutors say while puppy mills are illegal in Maryland, the ‘Don’t Be a Bully’ rescue allegedly trafficked in sick animals to make a quick buck playing off of the kindness of people anxious to save them.

One such person who adopted ‘Suki’, a German Shepherd mix, says she’s spent more than 12-hundred dollars on the adoption and vet bills and never received its medical or vaccination records as promised.

Now, the county’s chief of animal services is calling on people who adopted from the organization to help quell the outbreak of distemper.

“If you had your dog and they’re unvaccinated or you adopted a dog, the inclination is to bring them to puppy training classes and that would mean you’re exposing that dog to many other dogs that are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Sandra Andrulis. “So it could be something that we’re really going to see in the community, and already I’m hearing from different ERs and vets in Baltimore County that they have dogs coming in that have signs of distemper.”