NORTHWOOD — Barbara Kavars was found guilty Friday afternoon on 14 counts of misdemeanor animal neglect in connection with the operation of a puppy mill near Manly.
Around 150 Samoyed dogs, most of which were surrendered voluntarily by Kavars, were taken from the farm by representatives from animal welfare organizations on Nov. 12, 2018.
During the trial, which began Tuesday at the Worth County Courthouse in Northwood, jurors were shown photos of filthy living conditions in the kennels, as well as pictures of 14 of the dogs seized.
All the dogs were very thin or emaciated from lack of food, and a few were dehydrated, according Elizabeth Pearlman, a forensic veterinarian with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals who testified on behalf of the state.
Some of the dogs’ fur was matted and they had skin inflammations underneath, she said.
Some dogs were obviously in pain, and one had to be euthanized, Pearlman said.
Kyle Held, director of investigations with the ASPCA, testified that conditions at the breeding facilities were “not adequate at all.”
He described one of the pens the dogs were kept in as “incredibly unsanitary and dirty.”
Feces was piled up nearly 2 inches deep on the floors of some of the pens, while the lower walls were smeared with what appeared to be a combination of feces, mud and urine, Held said.
All the food bowls were empty, and water bowls and buckets had ice in them, he said.
Kavars testified that she fed and gave water to the dogs every day.
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She also said she surrendered as many of her dogs as space allowed at the Humane Society of North Iowa to make her operation — which she was running alone after the death of her husband in 2017 — more manageable.
However, she admitted that even after giving up some of her dogs, some of the adult male and female Samoyeds were not spayed or neutered.
She said running the operation by herself was hard work, especially in the winter when the water would freeze in their bowls as it did on the cold November morning a Worth County deputy and a team from the ASPCA arrived.
However, when questioned by her attorney, Michael Byrne, she said although in her opinion the situation at her breeding farm wasn’t ideal, it was acceptable.
A sentencing date has not been set.
According to Iowa Code, animal neglect charges are simple misdemeanors and are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine between $65 and $625 per count.