Alleged dog hoarder arrested, charged with animal cruelty and neglect of 39 dogs

kim savino

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Charges have been filed against a woman who was allegedly hoarding dozens of dogs inside her northeast Grand Rapids home.

We first told you about this story in November, and a few weeks ago we told you that nearly 40 dogs were seized from the house.

Kimberly Savino was taken into custody on Tuesday for animal neglect charges.

Neighbors said that they are over joyed that the dogs have stayed out of the home for several weeks.

“They said that it’s quiet. It’s eerie. We aren’t used to it. It’s been a lot of years since it’s been this quiet, but we are happy,” said neighbor Jon Lovell.

Savino was booked into the Kent County Jail on Tuesday, charged with animal cruelty for allegedly hoarding dozens of dogs inside the home.

We knocked on the door again on Thursday, but no one answered.

A few weeks ago, Kent County Animal Control removed 39 dogs from inside.

Jon Lovell has lived next door for over two decades. Lovell said that having Savino as a neighbor has been a nightmare.

“I’m glad to hear that they are finally doing something about this, you know to take care of the dogs. Hopefully they will take care of the problem that we have in the City of Grand Rapids,” said Lovell.

FOX 17 has obtained picture of the dogs inside crates, stacked ontop of each other.

We first caught up with Savino in November, asking if we could see up close the conditions the animals were living in. She denied our request, adding that she had to leave for a medical appointment.

Neighbors said that Savino researched Grand Rapids and moved from the east coast after discovering the city doesn’t have a limit on how many dogs can live inside one home.

The Creston Neighborhood Association has had meetings on the issue, and residents are pushing city leaders to revise their animal ordinance to prevent a possible hoarding situation from happening again.

“We are hoping that we can the city commissioners and get the mayor on board and get an ordinance like most all cities in Michigan, and so this won’t happen to anyone else or another neighborhood in Grand Rapids like mine,” said Lovell.

Animal control said that all 39 dogs are being kept in a separate area of the animal shelter and the dogs could eventually be available for adoption.

11 comments

  • Mi-PACA

    There’s an important point missing from this story. Criminals don’t tend to follow the law, so even if Grand Rapids restricts the number of pets that can be owned (punishing the innocent for the crimes of a few), it will not prevent hoarders nor irresponsible breeders from moving to or living in Grand Rapids. Cases like this can be (and are) prosecuted based on existing animal cruelty and neglect laws. Restricting ownership is ineffective.

  • Marne Street Dead Cats

    Why in the world hasn’t Diana Choiniere of Heaven Will Wait animal rescue not been charged yet?!! That woman blatantly murdered over 100 cats in Detroit- why the hell hasn’t she been charged?!! She was no hoarder! She used animal rescue to fill her need to be important to other people, not to animals, to people. She took money- lots of money. Where’s the money? Where are the existing animal cruelty and neglect laws in the case of the Marne Street Massacre? Why aren’t people talking about Diana Choiniere? She was no more a hoarder than Michael Vick. Where is the MHS? They won’t do anything to Choiniere. The animal welfare industry is a billion dollar industry and the MHS is part of a small elite group of multimillion dollar animal welfare organizations that receives the bulk of money donated each year. They count on people like Diana to scare the public, make them unsure of who to trust their donations with so they keep giving to the MHS. There were over ONE HUNDRED DEAD CATS. MHS, WHY HAVEN’T CHARGES BEEN FILED AGAINST THE MARNE STREET MURDERER?!!$$$!!

    • Thadine K. Kazmer

      Until I hear Diane’s side of the story I am not condemning her. She has matched a number of animals to people including my Murray T Kat to me and my husband. Perhaps she just became overwhelmed I don’t know. How owuld you know how much money she took in? Were you part of the inner circle. If so why didn’t you know someething was going on?

      • Marne Street Dead Cats

        The amount of animals Diana placed with families is irrelevant. It doesn’t make the hundred dead cats in her home along with the few sick surviving cats any less criminal. What it does make is your Murray T Kat one VERY lucky cat! Ignorance is the onlooker who suggests ‘overwhelmed’. Manipulative is the experienced rescuer who uses that ignorance as a defense. Corrupt is the animal welfare industry and the Wayne County prosecuting attorney who lets her get away with it. Out of luck are the animals stuck for decades on the most dysfunctional, greed-driven industry’s hamster wheel. Shameful is the billion dollar industry who keeps that wheel spinning.
        Whether Diana fundraised one dollar or millions, lady, FRAUD is still FRAUD! People don’t knowingly donate their money or services to rescue groups who save some cats while starving to death other cats. She misrepresented herself and her organization to the establishments who generously agreed to help her fundraise. She misrepresented herself to decent people who volunteered their time and skills to her organization- many who now have to defend their goodness and their personal credibility as a result. She misrepresented herself to every single person who donated a dime to her cause. Overwhelmed? That’s not logical in this situation. Diana was an experienced rescuer with 20 years worth of connections in the Michigan animal rescue community. She had an abundance of resources at her fingertips for exit doors long before her first cat died and still many thereafter. There’s a whole world of people out there who’d give or would’ve given anything to have the resources Diana had. THOSE are the overwhelmed people who eventually slip into mentally ill hoarderville from profound hopelessness of their situation. Diana? Blatant disregard for the wellbeing of an animal no different than the dog fighters, the people who abandon their ‘pets’, the people who run puppy mills or unscrupulous rescues who use animals as a commodity and no different than people who just get off on kicking a dog or cat. And if in this situation ‘overwhelmed’ is the defense, then add the mental health community to the list of people she tries to defraud. Was I part of her inner circle or volunteer for her organization or donate money or services to her or give her cats to rescue or run one of the rescues that saved her few surviving cats? Unfortunately, no. If I had anything at all to do with Heaven Will Wait animal rescue, I wouldn’t wait for Wayne county. I’d be slapping her with personal lawsuits! There’s a much bigger picture to this than it being limited to the animal abuse by the hands of the director of Heaven Will Wait. It’s about the ripple effect of this woman’s actions along with the LACK OF ACTION from the rescue community that rocks the credibility of EVERY single animal rescue group in Michigan and the devastating consequences to animals and animal welfare now and in the future because of it. What’s so depressing is knowing that the state of animal welfare is in the hands of the Michigan grassroots animal rescue community, NOT the government, MHS, HSUS, ASPCA, Best Friends or PETA. Unfortunately, the grassroots groups are either too tangled up with each other or too caught up to see the forest for the trees and realize how powerful and important they are. Who am I? No one other than a concerned citizen disgusted by animal abuse and tired of holding on to stars waiting for local rescue groups to find their courage and make change.

        • TK

          You are a very bitter person. Of course I am sorry about all the dead cats but where did they come from? Irresponsible owners who fail to get their animals spayed and neutered, ones who leave their animals behind as they move on, animals tht become inconvenient and are se tout to fend for themselves. There is a lot of blame to go around since behind every one of the dead cats is a story of neglect. Si instead of directing all yor hateed against one, maybe you should try to solve the problem of excess anlimals. I still want to know Diana’s story because this seems not to be who she was to anyone. Life is full of tragedy and in this case there were animals and people involved.

          • Marne Street Dead Cats

            If one of my children suggested that there was a lot of blame to go around, the conversation would turn into a discussion about the meaning of personal responsibility. The meaning of personal responsibility is only subjective to people who have a sense of entitlement to use their god given right of free will without having to accept ownership of the consequences that follow their choices. The only commonality shared by people who choose to be irresponsible pet owners and people who choose to lock cats in cages and starve them to death is “choice”, other than that, the state of animal welfare and Diana Choiniere are two separate and irrelevant topics. Whatever her story turns out to be the end result is a consequence of her personal choices alone. When a person spreads the blame for personal consequences, they devalue themselves, and they devalue themselves when they devalue others by spreading the blame for someone else’s consequences. Normally I’d think those people might have some degree of bitterness. In this situation, I wouldn’t accuse you of anything other than being a person struggling to make sense of something incredibly difficult to make sense of.

  • A.P.

    What about the cats that are still in this house? I’ve heard that they have about 8 in there. I’ve seen some sitting in the windows. Shouldn’t they be taken too?

    • Marne Street Dead Cats

      The recidivism rate for animal hoarders is small. The recidivism rate for animal abusers who use animals for profit is almost 100%. Unfortunately, the puppy mills, backyard breeders and the rescue for profit people have been lumped under the same umbrella with those who fall under HARC’s definition of ‘animal hoarder’ suffering from some level of mental illness. The label of animal hoarder tends to evoke sympathetic feelings for the mentally ill from the public, and imo, rightfully so. But labeling abusers who use animals for profit as ‘hoarder’ provides the criminal with the same sympathetic shelter. When it comes to greed, criminal activity has a high rate of recidivism. The first step is to eliminate public sympathy by getting a grip on the definition of animal hoarder.

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