Barb Kavars trial

Barbara Kavars, of Manly, listens to testimony at her trial in Worth County on Tuesday. Kavars is charged with 14 counts of misdemeanor animal neglect.

Barbara Kavars, who is on trial for animal neglect after 150 dogs were seized from her Samoyed breeding operation in Manly last year, testified Thursday that it was never her intent to have underweight dogs at the facility.

She said she gave her animals food and water every day.

However, the dogs included in the 14 counts of animal neglect were mostly ranked at 2 – meaning "very thin" – on the Purina body condition scale during veterinary exams a few days after they were seized on Nov. 12, 2018. 

A pregnant female was ranked at 1, the lowest point on the scale, meaning she was emaciated. 

"Do you think it's OK to have an emaciated pregnant dog," assistant Worth County Attorney Kelsey Beenken asked Kavars during her testimony on Thursday at the Worth County Courthouse in Northwood.

"I would have corrected it if I had known," Kavars said. 

Beenken also asked if Kavars thought it was acceptable to have dogs "just one step up from emaciated."


No. 2 - Rescued dogs living in 'appalling' conditions, Nov. 12

Animal neglect charges are pending after nearly 170 dogs were rescued from a Worth County puppy mill, officials said. Following the execution of a search warrant, the Samoyeds were found living in "appalling and overcrowded conditions and exhibiting signs of neglect with no access to clean water," according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Barbara Kavars, 65, who operates White Fire Kennels near Manly, is fighting Worth County to keep nine of the dogs, along with several cats.

Courtney Fiorini

"I would like it not to be that way," Kavars replied.  

She said she gave antibiotics and painkillers to a dog with a wounded tail, but did not seek help from a veterinarian because the animal seemed to be doing better.  

After being taken from Kavars' breeding farm, the dog was euthanized due to a painful bone infection. 

Kavars 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, she had adult male and female Samoyeds who had not been spayed or neutered in the same kennels. 

"Could you have done more?" Beenken asked. 

"I would have liked to," Kavars replied. 

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 day a Worth County deputy and a team from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrived early in the morning.  

However, when questioned by her attorney, Michael Byrne, she said although in her opinion the situation wasn't ideal, it was acceptable. 

According to Iowa Code, animal neglect charges are simple misdemeanors and, if the defendant is found guilty, are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine between $65 and $625 per count.

Kavars trial began on Tuesday. 

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Friday with reading of jury instructions, followed by closing arguments. 

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