Sandra Coy says she took in her first stray dog, named Wander, at 4 years old, and she hasn’t been able to turn an animal away since.
“He looked hungry, and nobody ever claimed him so he ended up being my dad’s best hunting dog,” she says.
However, since taking in several pitbulls during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 55-year-old says she’s been falsely accused of endangering dozens of animals in LaRue and Franklin counties.
In early 2009, Coy and her husband were charged locally with 11 counts of animal cruelty and Coy faced 19 counts of failure to vaccinate her dogs against rabies after officials raided the couple’s home in December 2008 and seized 11 pit bulls.
According to court documents, animal control officers found 60 dogs at the Coys’ home at 3387 St. Johns Road. After 11 dogs were removed, three eventually died.
A jury later found Coy guilty of one count each of animal cruelty and failing to vaccinate dogs against rabies. William Coy, 45, was charged with the same offenses, but was found not guilty.
Before coming to Franklin County, the Coys faced similar charges in LaRue County. According to the Hardin County News-Enterprise, they were forced to leave the county in August 2007 after authorities seized more than 40 dogs and puppies from their home. Eleven of those dogs later died.
“Yes, one of them died with me, and it was from heartworms because 97 percent of them were heartworm positive when they came to me,” she said in an interview at The State Journal Wednesday. The remaining dogs died after they were taken by authorities, she says.
“It finally got bad enough in LaRue County that the judge had to recluse himself, so they brought in a special judge who was like ‘Well, you know, I can’t say she’s done anything.’”
The Coys accepted a plea agreement with prosecutors there and promised to leave the county, according to the News-Enterprise.
“So a deal was struck that I would plead guilty to non-compliance with their kennel law, and I would move out of the county – and I had a home there,” she said.
But despite the accusations and charges, Sandra Coy, who volunteered after Hurricane Katrina with the American Red Cross, told The State Journal she’s always done what’s best for her animals.
The Coys currently have chickens, alpacas, goats, American pitbulls, birds and a horse – among others – on their Bald Knob property.
“I can take you on my land to any of my dogs and show you the American pitbull is not a mean or vicious dog. Everybody is given a job in their life, and my job has always been to help.”
Sandra Coy’s Miniature Silky Tennessee Fainting Goat took best in show at the Franklin County Fair, and the pitbulls are rescues, but most of her animals are part of the family’s livelihood – for food to eat or fur to spin.
Sandra Coy says she’s been spinning fiber for 25 years. She says she started after her great aunt taught her the dated skill on a walking wheel at West Liberty’s Sorghum Festival.
Sandra Coy purchased her current alpacas two months ago and plans to shave them in the coming weeks to use their fur to make shawls.
“Alpaca fur is the softest, most luxurious fur of all the fibers I’ve ever found,” she said. “If you’ve got all that fur, you’ve got to do something with it.”
Sandra Coy says one of the reasons she has had so many run-ins with the law is because she has been considered a neo-Nazi as a result of her involvement with the National Socialist Movement – a political party based in Detroit. The group hosted a rally on the steps of the Capitol April 21, and she reportedly filed the petition to host the event in Franklin County.
“It is a political movement that has nothing to do with Nazism, but this is the badge they want to paint us with,” she says.
“Do I believe everything they believe? No. I believe in the Constitution, and they’re the only ones I can see right now fighting for it.”
The State Journal has reported several dilapidated and discarded items scattered throughout the Coys’ yard. However, Sandra Coy says she’s using old tires and other containers to plant different types of raised garden beds.
“Each tire holds a different vegetable, and what I’m doing now is trying what soil works best for each plant,” she says. “I have a raised bed without paying for wood so they won’t cut down another tree.”
The couple has purchased a Bobcat to help move the remaining items from the yard.
“If you don’t learn, you die, and I try to learn something new everyday,” she said about mastering her garden and animal care.
Sandra Coy says to save money, she performs some veterinary procedures on her own – including worming and rabies vaccinations.
“If it’s a scratch or a scrape I can handle that, but if it’s anything worse than that, I’ll call my vet,” she said.
Sandra Coy, who says she’s a nurse, says she’s certified to administer her animals’ rabies vaccinations on her own – which is her latest predicament in Franklin District Court. She faces 16 charges of failure to produce proof of rabies vaccinations, and she says she’ll show proof of them at her June 5 court date.
Sandra Coy says her animals are never neglected due to a lack of funds, because the couple budgets by avoiding eating out and going to the movies.
“All our extra money goes into the animals, and that’s the way it’s always been,” she said. “They don’t lack for anything – they never have and never will.”
In late April, Sandra Coy gave two of her horses to authorities after Franklin County Sheriff’s Office received several complaints about their condition.
“Yes, there were two horses that were thin, and not because they didn’t have food, water or love, but because they were old,” she said. The older of the two horses she gave to authorities was 25.
“No, I don’t skimp when it comes to my critters. If anyone is going to go hungry, it’s going to be me,” she said.
“All my animals are healthy, and with of all these people that are raising all of this, not one of them has stopped and asked if they could help.”