LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A former Hollywood actress filed a lawsuit against the Animal Foundation. Susan Mechsner, who was in the 1981 film Stripes, says the shelter won’t return more than 70 animals despite here claims that she did nothing wrong. She also said no formal charges were filed against her. 

Animal Control seized the various pets from her northwest Las Vegas home in July. They were staying in a single-family home that sits on less than an acre of land in a residential neighborhood. 

Susan Mechsner's home

“That was kind of daunting to hear that she was having a zoo in her house,” said her neighbor Beth Ziebarth. The confiscation shocked nearby neighbors.

“There’s not enough space for animals like that,” said Porter Sultzbaugh, neighbor.

Mechsner, the homeowner, is determined to get them back, so the lawsuit filed last week claims she was wrongfully and unlawfully deprived of her pets.

The paperwork also lists more than 70 animals ranging from service and family dogs to kittens and exotic birds. Fish, along with farm animals, were also taken from the home.

“To be honest, the animals, if they had that many were quiet. I’ll give them that,” said Sultzbaugh.

Cristen Drumond, Reporter: “Any smells from the house?”
Sultzbaugh: “Not that I noticed; no. Only thing was a rooster that I would hear sometimes.”

The ordeal for Mechsner started after Metro Police responded for a welfare check and noticed all of the animals.

Susan Mechsner's home

Neighbors described what they saw the day Mechsner animals were taken from her.

“A lot of police; one girl leaving in tears and also an ambulance had come out,” Ziebarth.

Mechsner’s mother, a woman in her 90s, was taken to the hospital. An investigation of possible elder abuse and neglect is currently open on Mechsner, but there are no records of animal abuse.

In the meantime, while the case is tied up in legal proceedings, the majority of Mechsner’s animals will continue to receive care at the Animal Foundation. Right now, they’re placed on a “regulation hold” until police determine any potential criminal charges.

If Mechsner gets her pets back, she faces a hefty fine. The Animal Foundation charges $10 a day per pet, so that could end up costing Mechsner more than $50,000.

However, some neighbors don’t want to see them return to the neighborhood.

“These places aren’t big enough,” Sultzbaugh said.

“We don’t need a farm in a housing area,” Ziebarth explained.

A City of Las Vegas ordinance provides an equation to determine the legally required amount of space needed for each animal on a property