Butte woman finally arraigned on animal abuse charges

A Butte woman accused of abandoning four dogs and several cats without food or water for days finally showed for her arraignment — more than a year after it was initially scheduled.

Prosecutors say 44-year-old Veronica Lasell abandoned the animals in and around a Butte home that was covered in so much filth and animal waste “there wasn’t a livable or clean area in it.”

They charged her in November 2022 with nine counts of animal cruelty, including eight felonies, but she didn’t show for arraignment. District Judge Robert Whelan issued a bench warrant, and this past Dec. 24, Lasell was arrested in Butte.

Lasell did appear in Whelan’s court Wednesday, pleaded not guilty to all nine counts, and Whelan set the next hearing for Feb. 24. If convicted on all counts, she faces up to 17 years in prison and fines up to $21,000.

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The charges say the dogs were left “unattended for days locked in a house without food or water in their own waste and filth,” and they destroyed the house in the process. At least five cats were left outside for days without food or water in the middle of winter.

As it turned out, the neglected dogs were vicious and attacked people, and they were ultimately seized and euthanized, authorities said.

Two of the dogs were euthanized on court orders and the other two were put down because of behavior at the animal shelter, they said.

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.