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Owner of North Iowa puppy mill found guilty of animal neglect
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Owner of North Iowa puppy mill found guilty of animal neglect


Barbara Kavars was found guilty late Friday afternoon on 14 counts of misdemeanor animal neglect in connection with the operation of Samoyed puppy mill near Manly.  

Around 150 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 from the premises. 

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, or ASPCA, who testified on behalf of the state.

Some of the dogs' fur was matted and they had skin inflammations underneath, she said.

Some of the dogs were obviously in pain, and one had to be euthanized, according to Pearlman.

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 one to two 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 from the dog rubbing against them, according to Held.

All the food bowls were empty, and all the water bowls and buckets had ice in them, he said. 

Kavars testified that she fed and gave water to the dogs every day. 

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, she had adult male and female Samoyeds who had not been 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 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 at her breeding farm wasn't ideal, it was acceptable. 

Closing arguments in the case were presented Friday morning. 

A sentencing date has not been set.

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.


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