3 Blackwell residents charged with animal cruelty: "inhumane" conditions on Lincoln Ave

by Jordan Green

Three Blackwell residents accused of keeping dogs and cuts in inhumane living conditions have been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty, and one of the three suspects has yet to be apprehended by law enforcement.

Craig Allen Bergman, Serrissa Marie Jessica Campbell and Melonie Ann Marie Bartlett have each been charged with eight felony counts of animal cruelty and one felony count of conspiracy, online court records show.

Police have not yet found Campbell, who has an active search warrant.

Blackwell Animal Control Officer Cindy Yinger reported that Campbell contacted her on Oct. 4 to talk about surrendering a dog, police wrote in an affidavit.

Campbell told Yinger that several animals were being kept in the back room of her residence, 1002 W. Lincoln Ave., and Yinger was concerned to hear about the animals’ living situation. Yinger, Blackwell Police Officer Kenton Westermier and Sgt. Alex Myatt went to the residence to investigate that day.

Upon arrival, officers found in one part of the home a caged dog that “seemed to be taken care of,” which was the dog Campbell wanted to surrender, Westermier wrote in an affidavit. Officers spoke with Campbell, who said she had no access to the room where the other animals were because her landlords, Bergman and Bartlett, put a lock on the door two weeks earlier.

Bergman, who lives across the street, came over to the home, Westermier wrote.

Bergman said he checked on the animals daily. He allowed officers into the room, which had a “putrid smell,” according to an affidavit.

Officers found three dogs and four cats in the 12-foot-by-10-foot room, and feces were covering the walls.

The animals had little to no food or water, and some had skin infections and discoloring because of urine, Westermier wrote in the affidavit.

“[Yinger] was horrified of their living conditions,” Westermier wrote in an affidavit. “She believes that this case is the worst urine smell she had encountered in her career thus far.” Westermier also wrote:

“The ammonia smell was so overwhelmingly strong that my nose began to burn. … The smell of the room began to make me so nauseous so I had to exit the room.”

Yinger then spoke to Bartlett, who also lives across the street. She owned the animals and said she had not seen them in more than two years “because she didn’t want to deal with Campbell,” police wrote.

“Bartlett agreed to go and look at the animals,” Westermier wrote. “She entered the room and appeared to be horrified and claimed that the animals were her ‘babies.’ Yinger spoke to Bartlett about surrendering the animals and Bartlett agreed.

I spoke to Bartlett about the conditions of the room and she said the conditions were inhumane.”

Yinger took one of the dogs to Blackwell Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Ashley Senn, who diagnosed the dog with worms, severe skin wounds and infections caused by urine staining and urine scald.

Westermier wrote that he believed Bartlett, Bergman and Campbell “all took part in the situation.”

“Bergman claimed he checks on the animals and cleans from time to time,” Westermier wrote. “Bergman even claimed he had been in the room earlier that morning. Bergman had access to the room and was supposed to be taking care of the animals.

“Campbell stopped caring for the animals months ago, thus addition to the inhumane conditions for the animals. Even though she hadn’t had access to the room for approximately 2weeks, I believe it took much longer than two weeks for the conditions of the room to deteriorate into the condition it was in. “Bartlett was the owner of all of the animals. She claimed the animals were her ‘babies’ but she stated she hadn’t been over to the house in over two years to check on the animals.”

Bergman and Bartlett are set to make their initial appearances in Kay County District Court on Feb. 10, court records show.