Pet store owners face child abuse, animal cruelty charges

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2011

By Scott Jenkins
ROCKWELL — Neighbors say they hardly ever saw the children of a couple accused Wednesday of leaving them at home alone in squalid conditions and never sending them to school.
And the neighbors say they never really talked with the couple, who own a pet store but are accused of allowing their own pets to starve in their home and then leaving the carcasses to rot.
The couple, whose business survived the fire that destroyed the Webb Road Flea Market last year, have been jailed on child abuse and animal cruelty charges.
David Lore Jr., 37, and Angela Lore, 35, of 3435 Rockwell Road, each face four counts of child abuse and four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The owners of Pet Place on South Main Street in Salisbury also face three counts apiece of animal cruelty. They were in the Rowan County jail Wednesday night under $250,000 bond apiece.
The Rowan County Department of Social Services has removed the Lores’ four children — ages 7, 9, 14 and 16 — from the home, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said.
Social Services began investigating complaints of unfit living conditions at the home earlier this month, the Sheriff’s Office said. The complaint alleged the children were living in garbage and that starved pets were dying inside the home, their carcasses left lying.
The Sheriff’s Office Special Victim’s Unit got involved and discovered the children spend most of the day alone at the house while the parents run their business, authorities said. They also found the children have never been enrolled in public school and received very little medical attention.
Detectives served a search warrant at the home Wednesday morning and Social Services removed the children. Rowan County Animal Control removed three dogs.
Chris Summerlin, who lives nearby, said he wasn’t surprised.
“I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know when,”he said. “I don’t get any satisfaction out of it, but I’m happy something’s been done.”
Summerlin’s is a well-kept yard in a row of well-kept yards, until you get to the Lore property.
The mobile home is surrounded by garbage. Three cars and a Chevrolet pickup sit out front. The cars have trash piled on them or in them. The bed of the pickup overflows with black garbage bags stuffed full.
Shards of glass lay scattered in the grass next to the driveway, just where a passenger exiting a vehicle would have to step with other paths blocked by refuse and a big red steel container that has a Rowan Septic Tank sign on the side but could be a trash bin. It’s empty.
Glass aquariums and metal cages sit stacked on top of one another in random places. Beside one stack are the remains of what appears to have been a mattress. Nearby, the love seat from a gray living room suite sits among tall weeds. A matching chair, turned onto its side, lies several feet away.
Mounds of garbage appear to have taken form in convenient places. One is just outside a side door, its stench carried by the breeze to the next-door neighbor’s property. Another is behind an outbuilding out back.
The biggest garbage pile lies in the back yard of the home. It rises above the chain-link fence that takes in part of the property, the kind of fence some people use to define a safe place for their kids or pets to play. Some of the black bags have burst open, spilling their decaying contents. A toy horse has been tossed into the pile, its head buried, its legs pointing at the sky.
Toys — some whole, some broken — litter the yard along with car parts, cans, shoes and liquor bottles.
A man who lives nearby but didn’t want his named used said he’s only spoken to the Lores a few times in the last several years, and then just to ask them to clean up the mess.
“They cleaned it up a few times, and it goes right back,” he said. “Every time it got back, it got back a little worse.”
The Lores moved their mobile home onto the lot in 1996, he said. When he saw their children, they seemed healthy, he said. But he almost never saw them.
Summerlin, the other neighbor, said he rarely saw the Lores’ children outside.
“I didn’t think they were going to school, because you never saw them going back and forth to the bus stop,” he said. “The past few months, we didn’t even think anybody was living there.”
Summerlin said the Lores used to have a lot of dogs running around their property, but he hadn’t seen any in about a year.
The couple rented an 1,800-square-foot, air-conditioned building at the Webb Road Flea Market and ran Pet Place out of it until the September blaze that destroyed most of the market. They were more fortunate than other vendors. The structure withstood the flames and most of their animals survived.
In October, the Lores reopened Pet Place at 848 S. Main St. in Salisbury. They ran it until Wednesday, when detectives from the Sheriff’s Office arrested them.
The neighbor who didn’t want his name used said he saw the county cars at the Lore home Wednesday morning. Although he didn’t like the shape their property was in, he “never had any reason to suspect” they were abusing or neglecting their children, he said.
Summerlin said he knows someone called Social Services over a year ago to complain about living conditions at the Lore home. And he’s “happy for the kids” that they’ve been taken out of those conditions.
But Summerlin said it didn’t have to take this long.
“Shouldn’t somebody have realized by now they weren’t in school?” he asked.
The Sheriff’s Office said more charges are possible.
Contact Scott Jenkins at 704-797-4248.