- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut agriculture officials accused a Georgia woman Monday of trying to adopt out a dozen sick cats and dogs and charged her with animal cruelty.

Donna Lee Carswell of Grovetown, Ga., was arrested in Madison on Saturday.

The Department of Agriculture said it conducted a sting operation at a commuter parking lot, offering to buy animals. Officials said they received complaints from consumers and the Rhode Island state veterinarian that Carswell was adopting out sick animals to Connecticut and Rhode Island residents.

“We hear of these parking lot adoptions all the time,” said Raymond Connors, supervisor of the Agriculture Department’s animal control division.

Carswell said she made a mistake by not being familiar with Connecticut law.

“I’m really not a bad person,” she said in an interview.

The dogs were healthy, but some cats were ill with upper respiratory infection, she said. Two others with feline leukemia had to be euthanized, she said.

Agriculture officials said they seized 10 cats and two dogs in filthy enclosures.

Carswell faces 12 counts of cruelty to animals, 12 counts of failing to have official interstate animal health certificates, operating a pet shop without a license, failure to have animals examined by a veterinarian before adoption and other charges.

The Legislature stiffened animal protection laws in 2012 to stem the flow of sick animals into Connecticut, Connors said.

Carswell said she travels north in search of homes for cats and dogs as an alternative to states in the South that she says too quickly euthanize pets who are not adopted.

She was released on a promise to appear and is scheduled to appear in New Haven Superior Court on Feb. 4.

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