Public Safety

Deputy testifies he witnessed sickly dogs seized in Worth County

Worth County woman tries to keep some seized animals

Law enforcement and animal welfare workers rescue more than 150 dogs Nov. 12 from a rural Manly puppy mill. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that about 30 people were working at the scene to examine and transport the dogs for care. The property’s owner, Barbara Kavars, now is asking a court to let her keep nine of the dogs and four of the cats that were seized. (Photo from ASPCA)
Law enforcement and animal welfare workers rescue more than 150 dogs Nov. 12 from a rural Manly puppy mill. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that about 30 people were working at the scene to examine and transport the dogs for care. The property’s owner, Barbara Kavars, now is asking a court to let her keep nine of the dogs and four of the cats that were seized. (Photo from ASPCA)
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NORTHWOOD — A deputy who several times visited the Worth County property from which scores of dogs were seized last month testified Monday he saw animals in need of care.

Worth County Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Grunhovd said he had been visiting Barbara Kavars near Manly every few months since March at the request of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the Humane Society of North Iowa.

The Sheriff’s Office, acting Nov. 12 on a search warrant, seized 154 Samoyeds and four cats from Kavars’ property, citing animal neglect. Kavars has not been charged with a crime but is requesting the court allow her to keep nine of the dogs and four cats, which are being cared for by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and several Humane Society chapters.

Other dogs taken in the raid have been offered for adoption.

Kavars denied she neglected the animals, court documents say.

Grunhovd testified that Kavars told him the Samoyeds didn’t get water every day because they ate snow and ice.

ASPCA investigator Kyle Held said the frozen water buckets contained deep lick marks, meaning the dogs had worked hard to get water.

“I made a mental note to myself because I’ve only seen this a couple of times before,” he said.

In March, Grunhovd said, there were three dogs that needed immediate attention. One had a skin condition and two needed surgery. “She didn’t think they were that bad,” he testified.

One was treated, the other was given to the Humane Society and the third died after surgery, Grunhovd said.

Kavars’ husband died in June 2017, and she told the deputy things had “gotten bad the in the past year,” Grunhovd testified.

He said the dogs had limited water in April and May. In July, he said their kennels were packed with feces.

Kavars repeatedly told him she wanted to get rid of some of the dogs, Grunhovd testified, but every time she let go of a few of them, more puppies were born.

SPCA forensic veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Pearlman said 16 of the Samoyeds seized were pregnant. About 37 puppies have been born in the ASPCA’s care since then, Pearlman said, and six of the pregnant dogs have not delivered yet.

Upon his visit in October, Grunhovd said the kennels had been scraped but the dogs had very little kibble.

In November, Kavars was dragging a tarp when he visited.

Inside the tarp was an injured dog she needed help loading to take to the vet in Forest City. In the past, Grunhovd said, Kavars told him she had trouble catching the dogs and wanted high school boys to volunteer to help.

“I wasn’t sure if it was dead or alive, then it lifted its head up,” Grunhovd said. But the dog died within two days of going to the vet.

Photos of the interior of Kavars’ house were also shown in court.

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Trash could be seen throughout it, and one of the bedrooms had piles of boxes containing the ashes of cremated dogs.

Kavars is set to testify Tuesday. The judge is expected to make a ruling on custody later.

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