Niles man accused of hoarding 106 animals gets probation
Published 5:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2023
CASSOPOLIS — A Niles man with a history of hoarding animals was placed on probation and ordered not to possess any animal in a sentencing Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.
Robert Dean Archer II, 39, of Niles, formerly of Dowagiac, pleaded guilty to abandoning/cruelty to 4 to 10 animals and was sentenced to two years probation, credit for seven days served and $918 in fines and costs. He cannot have any animals in his possession.
Restitution of $5,831.40 for the care of the animals by Cass County Animal Control was not ordered but could be at a later date.
The incident occurred Aug. 16, 2022 when Cass County animal control and sheriff’s department officers found 106 animals at Archer’s Dowagiac residence after complaints from neighbors.
Archer was arrested more recently in June for violating bond conditions by continuing to have animals in his possession at his new residence in Howard Township in Niles. Published reports indicate that he was found with 107 animals in June, including cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, snakes, turtles and a crab.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz noted that Archer would not be in the criminal justice system without his hoarding of animals. “You can’t have animals in a situation where they’re at risk and in harm’s way,” Fitz said. “These are living entities that died painful deaths. In his mind, I think he loves animals but he isn’t showing a love for animals.”
Defense attorney Robert Drake said Archer has cognitive and developmental disabilities and has a compulsion to surround himself with animals. “He put his all into caring for the animals but the numbers overwhelm him,” he said.
Drake said that while his client could just live off the state with his disabilities, he has a job and has saved money to buy a house.
“He has a basic need for companionship,” he said. “… It’s not a matter of flaunting court orders. He’s a lonely guy with a cognitive impairment and we can’t overcome that by bludgeoning him with punishment.”
Archer said neighbors and others drop off animals at his home because they know he’ll take care of them. He said he feeds the animals and has them checked out by a veterinarian.
Cass County Judge Mark Herman ordered Archer to have no animals. “You have rules, you have to follow at work, or you get fired,” he said. “Right now, I’m going to order you have no animals and don’t feed strays. If an animal comes to your house, call Animal Control.”
“Someone else can rob a bank, that doesn’t mean you can,” Judge Herman said when Archer said that others have more animals than they are allowed, “We can discuss you having a dog in the future, but not now. Last time we gave you permission to have five animals and it turned into 106.”
“You love animals but you have too many,” Herman added. “As a result, each and every one of them is neglected in some way. You don’t have the money to pay for food for all of them. You may think you love them, but you’re being cruel to them.”