Deborah Lynn Hosler, 47, of Anders Road in Summerfield Township, pleaded not guilty in Lenawee County District Court on Friday to a four-year felony charge of abandoning 15 Siberian huskies earlier this month.
The dogs were found running loose in the area of Academy Road and North Wilmoth Highway east of Adrian.
Her public defender, Rhonda Underwood, did not return a message from The Blade seeking comment.
Ms. Debbie Hosler has operated a breeding kennel called Hosler Huskies, also known as Hosler’s Husky Haven, from her Monroe County home since 2010, according to public records obtained by The Blade.
The county revoked her kennel license in late July, 2016, after learning Ms. Hosler had not obtained a special-use permit from Summerfield Township and was therefore running an illegal kennel.
Lenawee County Undersheriff Troy Bevier said Ms. Hosler told investigators she could no longer afford to care for the dogs and was afraid they would be seized and destroyed. She then drove the dogs into Lenawee County and dumped them Jan. 4.
“When we spoke to her, she admitted responsibility,” the undersheriff said.
She agreed in court Friday to relinquish any claim on the dogs, and Judge Jonathan Poer ordered her to find other placement for her remaining six personal dogs — five huskies and a mastiff — by Feb. 6. She is not to have control over any animal until the case is resolved.
That's because they were not pets or even living creatures which have feelings and can suffer. Instead, Debbie Hosler saw them as dollar signs. Their purpose in life was to continually breed and churn out puppies she would flip for $850 apiece (which at least one buyer is on record in the media as having filed a complaint, saying his puppy was suffering from all sorts of ailments).
Monroe County Animal Control did not have record of any licenses for Ms. Hosler’s current dogs.
In April, 2006, Ms. Hosler received tickets for an unlicensed dog running loose in Cambridge Township, according to Lenawee County court records.
She failed to appear for a pretrial hearing, and was later picked up in Monroe County on a bench warrant in July, 2008. She resolved the matter by paying the associated fines.
Monroe County records show animal control there has encountered Ms. Hosler on several previous occasions.
In April, 2013, the department received a complaint claiming her dogs were being kept in unsanitary conditions. An officer found 20 dogs — primarily husky puppies — inside a clean house. Twenty-three more dogs were held in dirty outdoor kennels.
On subsequent follow-up visits, Ms. Hosler had cleaned the kennels and installed new rubber flooring.
“Our intent is always to educate and gain compliance,” Sgt. Greg Berman, head of the department, said.
In early March, a mastiff identified as being owned by Ms. Hosler was reported running loose in Petersburg.
“It had gotten away from her and was allowed to run free for several weeks,” according to a report from county animal control.
Melissa Borden of the Devoted Barn rescue in Frenchtown Township said she spent approximately three months earning the dog’s trust and captured him June 6. Ms. Hosler never reclaimed the dog, Ms. Borden said, and he was rehabilitated and adopted into a new home.
Ms. Borden also helped trap one of the huskies abandoned near Adrian. The female, since named Sylvia, was caught Sunday, taken to the Devoted Barn, and reported to authorities. She is reportedly very underweight.
“She is skin and bones,” Ms. Borden said. “She did not get this way in the week and a half she was loose.”
The rescue is actively working to trap two more huskies reported running loose in the same area, which would bring the total number of huskies involved in the ongoing case to 17 if they are confirmed to have come from Ms. Hosler’s kennel.
Undersheriff Bevier said any additional dogs found would likely be included in the ongoing case.
“If we find out there’s more, unless we can specifically tie it to a completely different date [of abandonment], this will all be part of the same incident,” he said.
In June last year, four of Ms. Hosler’s huskies got loose and attacked chickens owned by Summerfield Township Clerk Trudy Goodin, killing five of the birds and injuring two.
One of the dogs involved in the attack on chickens was noted as being thin with ribs and spine showing. A follow-up inspection at Ms. Hosler’s kennel in July showed the dogs to be in decent shape overall, though some had diarrhea and there was old feces in some of the kennels.
Ms. Hosler reportedly told the officer she was going to sell all but five of her dogs and move out of Monroe County.
The department also has a dog bite report from August, 2016, showing one of Ms. Hosler’s huskies bit her on the arm as she was trying to break up a fight between dogs.
The final activity, for which Sergeant Berman said Ms. Hosler could face an additional misdemeanor charge in Monroe County, is related to the sale of a husky puppy after the revocation of her kennel license. Ryan Evola filed a complaint with the department in September about the condition of Ms. Hosler’s facility, and said the puppy he purchased earlier that month for $850 was sick.
Mr. Evola’s letter to the county alleged unsanitary conditions inside Ms. Hosler’s home, including a strong urine smell and feces. He said his puppy was treated for roundworms, fleas, coccidia, lice, and giardia.
A visit by an animal control officer found three huskies and a mastiff inside the home, and all were healthy. The report did not indicate any other dogs were on the property, but noted Ms. Hosler told the officer she had given the huskies away.
One of the surviving dogs has a leg injury that may require surgery, and they all have intestinal worms, Undersheriff Bevier said.
The dogs are being cared for in several locations across the county, and the department has secured rescue placement or adoptive homes for all of them as soon as they can be released from custody, he added.