Charleston woman who had cats seized files multiple lawsuits

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 24, 2015

CHARLESTON – A woman who had two dozen animals seized from her Charleston home earlier this summer has filed nearly a dozen lawsuits in wake of the incident.

Amanda Dawn Woods filed her first lawsuit in June, two weeks after the animals – some of which already were dead – were taken from her West Side home. Shortly after that incident, more animals were seized at home down the street that belongs to Woods’ grandmother.

More than 20 of the cats eventually had to be euthanized for health reasons by the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association, according to Executive Director Chelsea Staley.

In her first lawsuit, Woods claimed the shelter refused vet care to her cats. The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Society and Staley were named as defendants in that suit. Woods said the defendants had agreed in court to move the cats to a vet, but hadn’t complied.

Woods’ home needed repairs, which had caused the cats to become infected with giardia and campylobacteor, according to the complaint, which said some of the cats also had ringworm. Woods previously had operated an animal rescue group.

She also claimed the shelter had said she didn’t provide medical care for her animals, but she included receipts with the complaint showing medical care she had provided. Woods said the defendants violated state animal cruelty laws by withholding the medical treatment to the cats and “providing many obstacles to their care.”

A month after the first lawsuit, Staley filed another civil complaint July 24 against the Humane Association, Staley and WCHS-TV. That complaint consisted of one sentence that read, “Please see attached statement.” Included was a printout of a WCHS story from the station’s website featuring hand-drawn arrows and comments about various comments on the story such as “Friends w/ Chelsea Staley” and “Wrong case.”

Six days later, Woods filed four more lawsuits. The Humane Association and Staley again were named as defendants in all of these complaints. But each one had other defendants listed.

One added Kanawha County assistant prosecutor J.C. MacCallum as a defendant. Woods claims MacCallum refused vet care and treatment for Woods’ seized cats. She seeks $100,000 from each party for wrongful death, emotional pain and suffering, veterinary care costs, negligence and restitution.

Another July 30 lawsuit added a group called the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee as a defendant. Woods says the IBKC and the Humane Association work closely with each other. She claims IBKC officers made online threats to her, such as saying they’ve seen photos of Woods’ home from the Charleston Police Department. It also includes printouts of text messages and online comments. In this suit, she seeks $50,000 from each party for defamation of character, “defunding the efforts to get my cats vet care,” emotional pain and suffering and conspiracy against her.

In another July 30 complaint, Woods includes the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Bethany Hively and Melissa Foster as defendants. She claims the original Gazette-Mail news story was incorrect in that it said 24 cats were euthanized at the shelter. It included comments from Hively, a vet tech at the Humane Association, who talked about “the horror of euthanizing 24 cats, which she didn’t do,” according to Woods.

Woods says a subsequent Gazette-Mail story was “supposed to be a retraction,” but it started with another inaccurate statement. According to Woods’ complaint, Foster was interviewed for a newspaper article. She told the reporter Woods “always had a lot of animals,” but Woods says she hasn’t spoken to Foster since middle school and that Woods was teased mercilessly by Foster and other kids in school.

Woods claims Gazette-Mail reporter Tyler Bell “set the tone that no one should donate (to a GoFundMe account) because I am unemployed and therefore not deserving.” She also says she knows little about the animals seized at her grandmother’s home because she hasn’t lived there since 2002, claiming Staley is incorrectly trying to link the two incidents.

In this complaint, Woods seeks $25,000 from each defendant for defamation of character, emotional pain and suffering.

Woods’ final July 30 complaint adds The Associated Press as a defendant for what she calls an incorrect story about the June 9 animal seizure at her home. She seeks $25,000 from each defendant in that case.

Three weeks later, Woods filed four more complaints, but the Humane Association and Staley are not named as defendants in these complaints.

In one, Woods sues Chasidy Wickline, who she says she doesn’t know.

“She left several messages on my Facebook fan page for my cat,” Woods writes, saying Wickline made inaccurate statements in those comments and said Woods always has been “bat shit crazy.” She accuses Wickline of harassment and slander and seeks $10,000.

In another, Woods claims Angela Seckman is “trying to defund my go fund me accounts for my cats boarding fees and for help with a water leak bill by saying they are to pay a public defender.” She says Seckman also claims the GoFundMe accounts are scams and hoaxes. She seeks $10,000 from Seckman for defamation, harassment and slander.

In another Aug. 18 complaint, Woods says she received $50 from St. Mark’s United Methodist Church to pay on her electric bill. But she says she received an online message from Lynn Coggins Skater, who Woods says “has fed into inaccurate news stories from multiple local news stations.” But she says it is not legal or professional for Skater “to post further comments that I received assistance from her church and she is not aware of any conditions of my home other than I needed assistance for my electric bill.” Woods says a pastor at the church was told of this, and she said she would “ponder on it and possibly talk to Ms. Skater.” She accuses the church of extortion for suggesting she drop her lawsuit against the shelter. She seeks $10,000 for extortion threats.

In her final Aug. 18 complaint, Woods lists Pamela Hodge as a defendant.

“Hodges stated in response to a news story that she ‘knew for a fact’ that I kept animals at my grandmother and mother’s homes,” Woods writes, saying Hodges hadn’t been to Woods’ home since 2013 and that her grandmother hadn’t kept her animals since 2005. She also says she has been estranged from her mother “for some time.” Woods seeks $10,000 from Hodges, who used to foster animals for Woods, for harassment, pain and suffering.

In all of the cases, Woods is representing herself. The cases have been assigned to various Kanawha County

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-1257 (Humane Association and Staley), 15-C-1428 (WCHS), 15-C-1448 (MacCallum), 15-C-1449 (Itty Bitty Kitty Committee), 15-C-1450 (Gazette-Mail, Hively, Foster), 15-C-1452 (AP), 15-C-1571 (Wickline), 15-C-1573 (Seckman), 15-C-1574 (St. Mark’s), 15-C-1576 (Hodges).

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Organizations in this Story

Charleston Gazette-Mail Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association The Associated Press WV WCHS-TV

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