Public Safety

Iowa puppy mill owner faces neglect charges

Authorities seized 154 animals in raid last year

Barbara Kavars appears Dec. 4, 2018, in Worth County Magistrate Court in what was an unsuccessful effort to have some of the animals confiscated during a raid on her property returned. She now faces 17 misdemeanor animal neglect charges. (Courtney Fiorini, Mason City Globe Gazette) C
Barbara Kavars appears Dec. 4, 2018, in Worth County Magistrate Court in what was an unsuccessful effort to have some of the animals confiscated during a raid on her property returned. She now faces 17 misdemeanor animal neglect charges. (Courtney Fiorini, Mason City Globe Gazette) C
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NORTHWOOD — A Northern Iowa woman whose 154 animals were seized late last year in a puppy mill raid now faces 17 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect.

According to criminal complaints filed last week against Barbara Kavars, 66, of Manly in Worth County, several of the dogs confiscated were “very thin” or “extremely thin” and needed veterinary care. The 17 counts against her, though, do not involve death or serious injury of the animals described.

Earlier, Kavars had asked the Worth County Magistrate Court to allow her to keep 13 animals — nine Samoyeds and four cats — of the 154 animals seized from her property in November 2018 by the Worth County Sheriff’s Office and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But in January, a judge ruled they would not be returned to her.

According to Iowa Code, animal neglect charges are simple misdemeanors punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or fines of between $65 and $625 per count.

Worth County Deputy Andy Grunhovd, who testified against Kavars last December, signed the criminal complaints.

The deputy first arrived March 27, 2018, at Kavars’ home on an animal welfare call. He quickly spotted trouble.

“Three dogs were found to be in need of care,” Grunhovd said in the criminal complaint. “Kavars didn’t think the dogs needed additional care and that she has been giving care.”

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Opal, an adult female Samoyed, had an “open wound on her back hind end area” and was in a kennel “full of feces and without food or water.”

A veterinarian later deemed Opal as “thin” and required two-thirds of her tail to be amputated, court records show.

White Fang, a young adult male Samoyed, had a severe wound on his tail, according to records. He also was found in a kennel full of feces, without food or water.

A veterinarian said White Fang was “thin” and had to have his entire tail amputated.

Grunhovd returned to the property Nov. 6, 2018, on another animal welfare call. He said he saw Kavars dragging a tarp across the yard with Yeager, an old male Samoyed, inside it.

“Yeager had severe wounds to his hind end and was barely moving, was packed in feces and mud,” he wrote. “I helped Kavars load Yeager into her vehicle.”

The dog later died at the veterinarian’s office.

Later that month, Grunhovd, working with the ASPCA, served a search warrant on Kavars and her property. Court records show they found dogs living with intestinal parasites, an overabundance of feces and water bowls that had frozen over. Several of the sickly dogs were pregnant.

In that hearing in which Kavars sought to have 13 of the animals returned, Worth County Magistrate Judge Douglas Krull noted that Kavars failed to provide sufficient food, water or shelter and did not take appropriate measures to stop the animals from fighting, which led to the death of at least one.

“Animals were confined, injured because of the confinement, and left in horrid, filthy conditions,” Krull wrote.

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Animals rescued from the puppy mill and later judged to be in good enough condition were offered for adoption.

Kavars is scheduled to appear April 11 in Worth County District Court.

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