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Painted Pastures Owner Vows To Fight Charges ‘Tooth And Nail’

Dazzle Painted Pasture Animal Rescue/Sanctuary

More than 100 animals were removed from Dazzle Painted Pasture Animal Rescue/Sanctuary due to unhealthy conditions. (Credit: Cook County Sheriff’s Department)

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TINLEY PARK, Ill. (STMW) – Cook County sheriff’s police handcuffed the owner of Dazzles Painted Pastures near Tinley Park and drove her away in a squad car Wednesday morning.

Dawn Hamill, 41, dressed in what appeared to be gray and maroon pajamas, was patted down, handcuffed and driven off her property in a sheriff’s vehicle about 11 a.m. Officials at the sheriff’s office would not say what the charges were.

Hamill confirmed she was arrested, but said she did not know the specific charges, only that they all were misdemeanors.

“I feel I’m being targeted by the sheriff’s police and the media,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m handcuffed and patted down for crimes that are similar to a traffic violation? I will fight this tooth and nail. I am a law-abiding tax-paying citizen who is doing a good job. I take in animals nobody wants.”

Hamill also denied a claim by her former employee, Christine Kelly, that she’s followed her on two separate occasions.

After her initial arrest, Hamill publicly blamed Kelly for letting things get out of control on her property.

On Wednesday, Kelly, of Oak Forest, insisted the shelter proprietor brought the troubles upon herself, claiming Hamill rarely tended to the animals herself and quickly lost her temper with the employees or volunteers held responsible for their care.

Kelly said she filed a report on March 21 with the Oak Forest Police Department claiming Hamill followed her home from the Oak Forest animal control facility, where Kelly helps tend to some of the animals seized in the Painted Pastures raid.

Earlier, Kelly filed a similar report with Orland Hills police after she said she saw Hamill circling her car in the parking lot of PetSmart, where Kelly recently began a new job.

“I don’t know why she’s decided I’m the reason this is happening to her,” Kelly said. “It’s just crazy. And it’s embarrassing. I’m trying to start a new job, and I have all this trouble with my old job.”

Hamill denies that she ever followed Kelly and insists she can account for her whereabouts on both days.

Less than a month ago, Hamill appeared in court on 11 misdemeanor charges, including animal cruelty, stemming from a previous incident involving sheriff’s police. At that time, she was granted a request for two months of discovery, moving her next court appearance for those charges to May 24.

Hamill’s legal troubles began Feb. 11, when authorities received a tip that conditions at her nonprofit animal sanctuary had deteriorated.

After an investigation that included surveillance of the shelter, officers obtained a warrant and raided Painted Pastures.
They found a dead horse and a dead cat, as well as several animals that were malnourished or suffering from parvovirus, according to the sheriff’s office. Hamill was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and eight counts of neglect of owner’s duties.

During the five-hour raid, more than 100 animals were removed from the 3.5-acre property in unincorporated Tinley. The Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge took in 65 dogs, 31 cats and three rabbits. Most of those animals already have been adopted out.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)