Yesterday, I wrote about CAPS (Companion Animal Protection Society) fight against Kathy Bauck, of Pick of the Litter Puppies aka Puppies on Wheels. If you haven’t yet, please watch the CAPS documentary.
Today, I’m going to write about the fall out from the Kathy Bauck investigation, and how it applies to all of us. Next week, I’ll write about the implications of this case for Canadian Breeders, and for Agriculture Canada.
Let me put it to you bluntly – consider this my declaration of war.
Kathy Bauck was the owner-operator of “Pick of the Litter”, a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) licensed and inspected commercial dog breeding kennel. Pick of the Litter is located in York Mills, Minnesota, and at one point in time, the kennel had well over a thousand breeding animals on site.
The gross violations of both law and decency that the CAPS documentary exposed are horrific.
Home spay and neuters. Dogs left to starve to death. Pregnant bitches dipped into vats full of toxic chemicals. Dogs with gaping wounds left to die without vet care. Pugs with eyes out of their sockets. Dogs seizing, and refused veterinary care. Animals suffering without water, shade or food. In what is perhaps one of the most disturbing instances of cruelty, Kathy Bauck was performing her own home c-sections on her bitches.
The list goes on, and many of the atrocities are shown in the documentary.
While all of this was going on, Kathy Bauck was busy making money – a lot of money. She sold literally thousands of puppies, both to pet shops and directly to buyers via internet sales websites. Technology has been good for Kathy Bauck, and for her side line, internet only puppy business, called “Puppies on Wheels”.
Kathy Bauck had been licensed by the USDA since 1983, and investigations into her practices began as early as 1997.
As CAPS reports:
The July 2008 USDA inspection report for Bauck found no violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). They did not inspect her again until March 4, 2009, just three weeks before her conviction. The inspector cited her for veterinary and cleaning violations.
In August of 2008, following a six week undercover investigation by a CAPS volunteer, Kathy Bauck was charged with five counts of animal cruelty, two counts of torture and two counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
The case went to court in March of 2009. Kathy Bauck promptly claimed that she had been “set up or sabotaged” by Jason Smith, the undercover investigator. Bauck laid the blame for everything from dog fights to increased seizures on Smith, claiming in part,
“I was almost blown over by the number of seizures. I couldn’t believe it.”
Bauck also blamed Smith for her own harsh handling of dogs at the kennel, detailing,
.. she arrived at the kennels one morning to find Smith with a mastiff in the wrong pen. She moved the dog using its jowls because she was worried about a fight, she said, and Smith did not respond to her request to find a leash.
Despite detailed testimony from Smith, including the video footage of animals being mistreated and neglected, Bauck was eventually acquitted of the felony charges. Bauck, naturally, “thanked Jesus” for the jury’s conviction, following in the time honored tradition among puppy millers of proclaiming that God loves nothing more than a serial animal abuser.
From the Fergus Falls Journal –
Bauck was found guilty of four misdemeanor charges: three counts of torture and one count of animal cruelty.
The verdicts came at about 9:25 p.m. Tuesday after six hours of deliberation. Jurors heard closing arguments in the four and a half day trial early Tuesday afternoon.
Neither Bauck nor her attorney were available for comment following the verdicts. Prosecuting attorney Heather Brandborg had no comment, other than to say the state was “very pleased” with the result.
Bauck’s trial included testimony from veterinarians, law enforcement and Bauck herself. Jurors also heard from Bauck’s accuser, Jason Smith, and watched undercover video footage Smith filmed as an employee at Bauck’s breeding facility last spring. The highly-publicized footage showed images of wounded, seizuring and emaciated dogs.
The newspaper article also makes note that Bauck had transferred ownership of Pick of the Litter Kennels to her husband and daughter in April, 2008.
Bauck’s sentence was shockingly lenient but hardly surprising, considering that the judge who presided over the trial opined that “the emaciation of a dog on the breeder’s New York Mills property was a result of neglect, not malicious treatment”. The final charges solely concerned the severely emaciated Mastiff mentioned by the judge. All of the other instances of abuse and neglect were completely ignored.
In the end, after almost ten years of investigations and an entire year spent on the court case, Bauck’s final sentence was –
a 20-day jail sentence, Bauck must pay a $500 fine and allow visits from humane society officials at the New York Mills breeding facility now owned by Bauck’s husband and daughter.
In a separate court case, Bauck pled guilty to one charge of practicing veterinary medicine without a license, and again received a slap on the wrist –
As part of a plea deal, four similar charges and one animal cruelty charge were dismissed.
She served 10 days in jail with 110 days stayed, and was fined $900 and given two years of probation.
The state Board of Veterinary Medicine also took action against Bauck in October 2006. The board ordered Bauck, who has never held a veterinary license, to stop performing surgeries and vaccinating dogs or puppies.
The action was taken after the board determined that Bauck performed neutering, hernia repairs and ear crops on dogs she owned, according to the order signed by Dr. John King, the board’s executive director.
In August of 2009, almost a full year after charges were laid against Bauck, the USDA finally requested that a judge suspend Bauck’s USDA licence. From the Fergus Falls Journal –
The motion against Kathy Jo Bauck, 53, was filed in mid-August by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which manages licenses for breeding facilities. In the motion, the agency asks that Bauck’s license to operate Pick of the Litter Kennels/Puppies on Wheels be terminated for at least two years.
In December of 2009, a judge revoked Kathy Bauck’s USDA licence for two years. One would assume that this would effectively put Kathy Bauck and her associated dog breeding enterprises out of business, but you’d be wrong.
Not only is Bauck still selling animals, but if you’ve bought a French Bulldog, Bulldog, Mastiff, Pug or other puppy on line, site unseen, or from a Pet Store, there’s still a possibility that it came from Kathy Bauck’s canine concentration camp.
Part Three comes next week