People vs. Mardell Stovall, Jr, et al.
by Robin M. Hass, Deputy District Attorney
In September 2010, our office filed animal cruelty charges in a hoarding case out of the City of Hinkley that had been ongoing for approximately thirteen years according to San Bernardino County Animal Control. Finally, after many years of trying to work with the defendants and achieving no success, San Bernardino County Animal Control brought the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
At that time, Mardell Stovall, Jr. and Cindy Downing were living in the Hinkley residence. They had over seventy-four dogs living on the property in miserable conditions: inadequate shelter, lack of water, minimal food, and no veterinary care. One of the dogs had an ear infection that had been ignored and left untreated. When the dog was finally taken to the vet at the insistence of Animal Control officers, the veterinarian found maggots in his ear canal and his skull. As a result of this neglect, the dog died.
The defendants also had several cats living in a cattery that was filled with feces. They, too, had inadequate food, water and shelter. Sadly, the list doesn’t end there. The defendants also had a donkey and a horse living in deplorable conditions on the property. As a result of the prosecution in this hoarding case, the defendants were placed on probation. One of their terms of probation was that they were not to have any animals under their care or control.
Unfortunately, the animal suffering continued when the defendants simply moved off the property and had relatives and a friend come live on the property--where the hoarding continued.
In July 2011, a concerned citizen saw a dog chained to a tree in the front yard of the property. The dog looked as if it had been abandoned; it was emaciated and without any food or water. The July, temperatures in Hinkley often soar into the 100’s. Knowing this, the concerned citizen tried to rescue the dog. While he was doing so, the new residents confronted him and called the Sheriff’s Department to report that someone was attempting to steal one of their dogs. When the Sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene, she was shocked to find over forty dogs kept on the property in cages filled with feces. Most of the dogs had no water or shade, and the new residents admitted they could only feed the dogs about once a week because it was too costly. A new animal cruelty case was filed.
The dogs were ultimately rescued by Animal Control in September 2011. Unfortunately, by that point, the defendants had acquired more dogs and several of the dogs on the property had to be euthanized because their conditions had deteriorated so badly. All told, over 70 dogs were seized.
Finally, after 13 years of hoarding animals on their Hinkley property, all of the defendants from both cases were evicted. All the defendants also have been ordered to not have any animals living with them and to not have the custody, care or control of any animals.