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Operator of ‘pet therapy’ ranch charged with animal abuse

By Pat Pratt

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    FRANKLIN COUNTY, Missouri (KMOV) — Animal abuse charges have been filed against the operator of a “pet therapy” ranch in Franklin County after authorities found multiple animals on the property living in squalid conditions and several others dead.

Franklin County prosecutors on Friday charged 54-year-old Nisha P. Chand with four counts of animal abuse and one count of animal neglect, all misdemeanors. A summons has been issued for Chand to appear in court Feb. 13 to answer the charges.

The charges were filed after 45 animals were rescued and nine were found dead on Jan. 14 when Franklin County sheriff’s deputies served a warrant at Chand’s property in the 800 block of Picklesford Road, which for years operated as Goat and Bunny Ranch Pet Therapy.

Deputies stated in charging documents that during the execution of the warrant, one dog was found dead inside the camper Chand was living in on the property.

Others were found without shelter during the extreme cold that descended on the area in January. The smell, trash and clutter found on the property resulted in the animals living in hazardous conditions, according to charging documents, which stated Chand’s health has declined in such a way she is unable to properly take care of them.

Rescue organization Paws SOS of Franklin County took the animals remaining on the property to safety. Paws owner Nola Wilkins described the scene as horrific.

Note: Some viewers may find the condition of these animals upsetting. Viewer discretion is advised.

“There were obstacles and trash everywhere and we had to climb over objects to get into the buildings,” Wilkins said. “In every single one, there were dead animals, or the animals were in horrendous condition, covered in feces and living with other dead animals. We saw no food, no water, no feed, anything. A lot of the animals were freezing.”

Wilkins said her organization and other rescue organizations have for years been aware of animals being abused at the property, and the abuse has been reported to authorities. However, court records show this is the first time Chand has been criminally charged.

“Almost every year and sometimes a couple times a year since I have known her in 2018, the HSMO (Humane Society of Missouri) has been out there and given her the chance to clean up the property and get rid of any animals she doesn’t want to keep,” Wilkins said.

Paws SOS of Franklin County, when contacted in January by deputies, said they rescued a cow, goats, turkeys and even a monkey. Wilkins said Chand has purchased exotic animals in the past, like a Wallaby that was picked up in October 2019 by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

“I was involved in that one too and tried to get something done regarding the animals in her care,” Wilkins said.

On the Facebook page for Goat and Bunny Ranch Pet Therapy, Chand is referred to as “Dr. Nisha Chand, who holds advanced degrees in veterinary science, animal assisted therapy, and naturopathic medicine.”

The page states the ranch is part of a nonprofit referred to as “lorekSKATT.” Missouri Secretary of State Records show the nonprofit was registered in 2013 but dissolved in 2018 for failing to file the required paperwork.

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