Thursday, April 23, 2015

Minnesota: Ten years of being caught abusing animals. Doenz and Carlson again get to walk away

MINNESOTA -- After more than a year of court hearings and legal manueverings, Kathleen Doenz (aka Kathy Doenz), 66, and her mother Irene Carlson, 87, have both pled guilty to animal abuse.

Mother and daughter filed guilty pleas on April 13.

Doenz pled guilty to one felony count of overworking, mistreating and/or torturing animals. As part of a bargain with the Pine County Attorney’s Office, a total of 19 other animal abuse charges against Doenz are set to be dismissed.

According to court documents, Doenz will receive a 90-day jail sentence (she got credit for time served so she was probably allowed to go home that day), and will be on probation for five years.


Carlson pled guilty to one felony count and two gross misdemeanor counts of overworking, mistreating and/or torturing animals. All other charges against her will be dismissed as part of her deal with prosecutors.

Carlson will receive five years of probation.

Report of abuse
According to the criminal complaint filed in Pine County court the investigation began back on Aug. 11, 2013 when deputies of the Pine County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous report of animal abuse at a property on Holly Road. The individual said that horses had their ribs showing, there was a horse with long and overgrown hooves, and a horse with an untreated leg injury and skin peeling down its leg.

On Aug. 27, 2013 a deputy visited the property and saw a horse that appeared malnourished with no access to grass, hay, feed  or water from its enclosure.

The deputy also saw several dog enclosures housing around a dozen animals. There did not appear to be any food in the enclosures.

The deputy took several photographs, which were forwarded to the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine. A veterinary doctor said the horses appeared to be suffering from severe malnutrition and muscle wasting, and the only plants available in the photograph were weeds which would be toxic to the horses if eaten.

On Sept. 12, 2013 deputies carried out a search warrant at the Holly Road property along with two veterinarians. They were met by Doenz and Carlson who said they had joint ownership of the 21 dogs, 13 horses, and chickens and ducks on the property. They said that neither of them live at the property, but they both came out each day to care for the animals.

An investigator noted “a very strong, rank odor throughout the property.”

Full kennels, empty food dishes
All the exterior dog kennels were occupied, and more dogs were found in two separate barns. There was no sign of food in any of the kennels – or anywhere on the property – except for decaying food on the floor of the kennels mixed with animal excrement. Most had no water. A few had stagnant water that had turned brown or green. Food dishes in the cages were, according to the complaint, “empty, buried, or caked with mud and excrement.” A veterinarian noted that the dogs were required to “walk and lay on their own excrement mixed with mud.”

Doenz told deputies that Carlson had planned to go to the store that day to buy 10 bags of dog food.
Starving horses, filthy ducks

The report states that twelve live horses and “various equine skeletal remains” were found on the property, with 11 of the live horses in an overgrazed pasture with undrinkable water, and one stallion in a separate pen with no drinkable water, a leg bone from a large animal, and wood debris.

Two of the horses, named “Doc” and “Whitney,” were determined by the veterinarians to be in the final stage of starvation.

Six horse skulls were found on the property along with other bones. According to the report, one skull still contained chestnut hair.


Doenz told the deputies that she does her own hoof trimming and vaccinations, and allegedly admitted that the horses were not properly vaccinated or properly de-wormed.

No grain or hay was found on the property.

There were 17 ducks and 84 chickens found on the property. No water or food was found for any of the birds. The ducks were kept in a room with no access to the outside, and were “completely covered with the excrement and mud.”

The deputies and veterinarians determined that neglect was evident and all animals were seized.

Horses euthanized, dogs treated
• A mare named “Summer” was thin and lame with long, severely cracked hooves. After she was euthanized due to her severe condition, she was found to be pregnant with twins.

• A mare named “Whitney” was emaciated, drooling, and a possible rabies suspect with an untreated wound on her right front leg. She was euthanized and found to have parasites and overgrown hooves.

• A stallion named “Doc” was emaciated and close to death, but was not euthanized.

• A male Great Pyrenees dog named “Hugo” had dew claws growing into the pads of his paws, which were causing open sores. Due to lack of grooming, hair and fecal matter were matted on his backside preventing him from defecating.

• A female German Shepard named “Ozzie” was found emaciated, and Doenz reported that she had been found two weeks earlier hanging by the chain-link fence of the kennel by her paw. Doenz said she had not sought veterinary care for the dog. Two toenails and a toe had to be removed.

Third time charged
This is the third time Doenz has faced criminal charges in Pine County court relating to the alleged mistreatment of animals in her care.

In 2006, Doenz pled guilty to four charges of cruelty to animals through a plea deal in which 81 other charges were dismissed.

After a 2007 trial, 35 criminal charges relating to Doenz’s treatment of birds, horses and dogs were acquitted or dismissed.

Doenz and Carlson will both appear in Pine County Court for sentencing on the current charges on June 23 at 1:30 p.m. The Pine County Sheriff's Office may seek restitution for expenses related to the care of the rescued animals.

( - April 22, 2015)


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