Mary Jo Frazier, the former head of Boulder City’s animal shelter, was handcuffed and taken to jail Tuesday after she appeared in court to face animal cruelty charges.
Pet owners have demanded Frazier be held accountable in the deaths of their animals.
The case dates to April when a Boulder City detective investigated Frazier, records show. A detective interviewed shelter staff who said Frazier killed animals for fun. The detective also talked to city veterinarians who said they were rarely asked to treat animals and reviewed shelter records that showed Frazier killed almost half of the animals that came in since 2006.
Police Chief Bill Conger initially closed the case. Frazier quit, sold her house and moved to Oregon.
Her lawyer, Daniel Page, asked District Judge Susan Johnson that Frazier be freed on her own recognizance. But the judge upheld a $50,000 warrant and ordered Frazier taken into custody.
“She is adamant about her innocence,” Page said, noting that Frazier, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, traveled from out of state to appear in court.
Page asked for bail to be set at $6,000 and added that $50,000 would be “very difficult for (Frazier and her husband) and their financial future.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Amy Ferreira said that though Frazier faces only two counts of animal cruelty, prosecutors believe she killed dozens more.
“This is not a standard case,” Ferreira told the judge. “The actions that this defendant took in this case are horrific.”
One of the charges stems from failing to care for an 11-week-old pit bull puppy named Lotus, according to the district attorney’s office.
Frazier’s refusal to treat Lotus is what prompted the initial April detective’s investigation, according to authorities. The puppy had suffered from shattered teeth, a swollen head and a broken left hip. Frazier’s reason, her co-worker told police, was “we don’t spend money on pit bulls and because I’m just going to stick her anyway,” according to the detective’s affidavit to support an arrest warrant.
Conger has said that he originally dropped the case against Frazier because he felt it would be moot, considering she retired shortly after the investigation concluded. Frazier was the supervisor for Animal Control, an agency that falls under the police department.
Conger resigned in January.
In December, Boulder City officials sent the case to the district attorney, asking Frazier to be charged with 37 felony animal cruelty counts in connection with animal shelter deaths.
Authorities found that almost half of the animals received by the shelter since 2006 were euthanized by Frazier. That is a lower percentage than other shelters, according to a survey by the American Humane Association, which showed about 64 percent of animals were put to death after they were accepted at 1,000 facilities nationwide. But the group noted that in many cases the shelters were overcrowded and needed to make room for more animals — conditions not seen in Boulder City.
The judge also ordered Frazier, should she post bail, to stay away from any animals while she awaits trial.
The statute of limitations for animal cruelty stretches back three years, according to the prosecutor.
Frazier “systematically killed animals that came into the shelter” and “committed the same crime over and over and over again,” Ferreira said. “This is an individual who has engaged in this conduct repeatedly, who was told to stop.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker