ASPCA Helps Get Animal Cruelty Conviction at Puppy MillPublished May 14, 2009
I must applaud the ASPCA's tireless work in regard to exposing the deplorable conditions of puppy and kitten mills around the country. Late last week, I learned about a victory toward that end, which was won through the efforts of Dr. Melinda Merck, the ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics. In March, 2009, the conviction that she helped obtain, by her testimony at the trial of Kathy Bauck, the operator of Pick of the Litter Kennels in New York Mills, Minnesota.
This breeder not only sells animals to pet stores, but also on the Internet and has housed, on the property up to 1,300 dogs of at least 32 different breeds. This breeder was first arrested in August 2008, charged with an array of counts of torture, animal cruelty and also practicing veterinary medicine without a license. However, on March 24, her four and a half day trial which included six hours of jury deliberation, she was cleared of all felony charges, but was found guilty of four misdemeanors; one count of animal cruelty and three counts of animal torture.
It is this writer's opinion, however, that the punishment may not fit the "crimes". While the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups work diligently to stop these abuses, I strongly feel that individuals sitting on juries in cases like the one cited above, need to take stronger action in order to support the groups who are so motivated and dedicated in their attempt to end these inhumane acts toward innocent animals.
Jason Smith, a free-lance animal cruelty investigator started working at Pick of the Litter in early 2008, in order to collect evidence against Ms. Bauck. He provided the Otter Tail County Sheriff's detectives with videos and his personal testimony of the alleged abuse occurring at the facility. Included in the footage of the videos were starving and injured dogs and showed Ms Bauck dipping dogs into vats containing insecticide. Dr. Merck was contacted by the veterinarian working with the prosecution about a month before the trial was scheduled. She said, "I was asked by the prosecutor to review all the video and case files and provide expert opinion."
Since Pick of the Litter had a history of complaints and citations dating back to a 2006 cease-and-desist order from the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine in response to learning that Ms.Bauck was performing surgery on her animals without a license, both the facility and Ms.Bauck were no strangers to the ASPCA investigators.
Bob Baker, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Initiatives Investigator said, "Kathy Bauck has been a chronic problem. I visited her facility in 1998 and reported her to the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act--but as far as I know, there was no follow-up on the part of USDA." One has to wonder why there was no follow up action at that time.
On Friday, May 1, after her sentencing hearing, Ms. Bauck was given 90 days in jail, 20 of which are to be served immediately. Only if she violates her probation, will she have to serve the other 70 days. Additionally, she was also sentenced to 80 hours of community service by the officiating judge, who added that she must allow unscheduled inspection visits in all areas of her facility if she plans to continue her participation in the operations of the kennel.
What is it going to take to once-and- for- all shut down such a facility that demonstrates incompetence and lack of concern for their animals? I just don't understand this at all. What are your thoughts about puppy and kitten mills? Do you feel that these facilities should be banned from doing business? Leave a comment and share your opinions.