LAKE STATION — A woman who had dozens of animals seized from her home nearly two years ago has filed a lawsuit against the city and its police.
Rachel Wayne was charged in February 2016, with forgery, a Level 6 felony, and abandonment or neglect of an animal, a Class A misdemeanor, after police were tipped to problems at the home.
Those charges since have been dropped, and Wayne is suing in federal court in Hammond.
In 2016, a Portage woman told police her daughter became ill after the family adopted a cat from the home in the 1800 block of Union Street. A police investigation ensued.
Wayne's lawsuit claims a disgruntled customer purchased the cat and filed a false police report stating the cat was abused and neglected.
Wayne's lawsuit also says she lawfully owned the animals she either rescued or cared for, including cats, dogs and raccoons. The lawsuit claims Wayne had all the necessary documentation and permits to lawfully house and care for the animals.
According to court records, some of the animals that were seized were euthanized by a doctor who works for the Hobart Humane Society, because the animals’ health problems were severe.
Wayne's lawsuit states other animals were either given away or adopted by others without giving her a hearing, as required by Indiana law.
The lawsuit also alleges the city and police made an unreasonable search and seizure of Wayne and her property.
Criminal charges against her were dismissed in March, Lake County court records show.
The woman who made the complaint to police told them the cat she purchased was later diagnosed with ringworm and an upper respiratory infection. A doctor recommended the cat be euthanized, but it was unclear from the court affidavit what happened to the cat.
Another woman told police she adopted a kitten from Wayne, but that cat also was later diagnosed with ringworm and an upper respiratory infection, according to the affidavit.
Attorneys for Wayne, whose last name was Cundiff when the case began, and the city of Lake Station did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.