Raisin Tree Farms kennel in Fowlerville was raided Wednesday. Authorities seized over 90 dogs living in overcrowded cages stack on each other. Various breeds including whoodles, standard poodles and Soft-coated Wheaten terriers were found soaked and matted in urine and feces.
Proprietor Margaret Komorny was charged with animal cruelty to 10 or more animals. 76-year-old Komorny denies the charges: “I love animals. I’m devoted to animals,” she said. Michigan has no puppy mill laws and is part of the Midwest “Puppy Mill Belt.”
On November 21st, a Washtenaw county jury found in favor of the Humane Society of Huron Valley in the lawsuit filed by Ralph and Melinda Hart. The lawsuit filed on June 2011 claims the humane society did not have authority to seize the Hart’s dogs. The lawsuit sought $1 million dollars in damages and the return of 13 dogs.
The Humane Society of Huron Valley speaks of the case on their Web site:
In essence, a couple forced 17 dogs, used solely for breeding and showing, to live their entire lives in cruel confinement–within a crowded garage in dirty wire bottom cages. The Cocker Spaniels had no form of comfort, minimal socialization, and a lifetime of veterinary care that never went beyond the preparation required for competition in the show ring.
Melinda Hart, President of the Detroit Cocker Spaniel Club, owns Hartline Cockers.
Police in Standish, Michigan are looking for those responsible in a dog shooting case. Haley, a seven-year-old cocker spaniel/golden retriever mix was found dead along Highway 23 on December 29th, 2011. She had been shot in the hind leg and above the eye. Haley’s owner, Rob Rezler, had been playing catch with her just two days before when she ran off and never returned. He wonders why anyone would want to harm her.
The Humane Society of the United States is offering a $2,500 reward in her case. “The citizens of Standish should be very concerned that someone in their community could callously shoot such a gentle dog. We are hopeful that this reward will bring forward anyone with information about this thoughtless crime.” Please contact the Arenac County Sheriff’s Office at 989-846-3002.
The incident began on April 12, 2011 when Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) investigator, Matt Schaecher, executed a search warrant at a North Harris Road home in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Harris was responding to an animal cruelty complaint. Thirty dogs, mostly cocker spaniels, were seized by the humane society. Owners Ralph and Melinda Hart failed to provide a kennel license as well as licenses for the dogs. Melinda Hart is the president of the Detroit Cocker Spaniel Club and owner of Hartline Cockers.
The humane society claims the Harts kept their cocker spaniels in the garage stacked on top of each other in cages only letting them out to urinate and defecate. “They don’t dispute they’re keeping the dogs in cages stacked on top of each other,” said Susan Kornfield, attorney for the HSHV. No animal cruelty charges were filed although the Harts signed a field release statement. In the agreement, seventeen dogs would be returned if the Harts obtained a kennel license and licenses for the returned dogs.
None of the dogs were reportedly ill from mistreatment although the HSHV euthanized three cocker spaniels–apparently they couldn’t find anyone to adopt them. The Harts’ lawsuit filed June 27, 2011 sought return of their cocker spaniels adopted out by HSHV however the motion was denied in a Washtenaw county court. One of the cocker spaniels reportedly belonged to the Harts’ son.