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Dog kennel scrutinized

Animal control officers who visited Iron Horse Kennel on Hauser Lake Road near Newman Lake on Nov. 30 found muddy kennels, dirty water and dirty animals with matted fur.
Animal control officers who visited Iron Horse Kennel on Hauser Lake Road near Newman Lake on Nov. 30 found muddy kennels, dirty water and dirty animals with matted fur.

SCRAPS alleges woman violated probation

A woman on probation for violating dog kennel regulations in 2010 was arrested again last week on similar charges.

Wilma L. Turner, 63, runs the Iron Horse Kennel on Hauser Lake Road near Newman Lake. She was arrested Nov. 30 on charges of second-degree animal cruelty and for having unclean water containers and unsanitary kennels.

The latest arrest came after the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service received a complaint about a sick puppy that had been purchased from Turner. The puppy was emaciated, dehydrated and had giardia, an intestinal parasite found in unclean water, said SCRAPS director Nancy Hill.

Animal control officers who visited the kennel on Nov. 30 found muddy kennels, dirty water and dirty animals with matted fur, Hill said. “We observed that some of the kennels had unclean water with algae in the bowls,” she said.

In contrast to 2010, however, no animals were seized because they seemed to be reasonably healthy, Hill said. “Those sorts of things did not rise to the level that we felt we had to get a warrant and seize them for immediate medical treatment,” she said.

A report written by animal protection officer Francisca Rapier described the violations. Some kennels were in better conditions than others and some animals did have clean water, though the water containers themselves were dirty and had not been sanitized as required, Rapier wrote.

“Primary kennel run #7 was filthy with straw caked with feces and urine,” Rapier wrote. “The kennel was slick with feces ground into the cement floor.”

She said the overall condition of the kennels was “terrible” and the dogs were not being kept clean and dry. One of the pictures Rapier took showed two dogs in a small cage standing on what appeared to be a muddy concrete pad.

Turner disputes this. The kennels all have wood shavings over concrete, she said. “There was no mud,” she said. “You’re not allowed to have mud.”

Turner denied having any serious issues at her kennel. “There wasn’t that many problems,” she said. “The water had been changed twice that day.”

She said that she was recently in the hospital for two weeks with pneumonia and was diagnosed with breast cancer over the summer. In a brief phone conversation she defended the conditions at her kennel. “It had been raining for a week,” she said. “They knew that I was in the hospital for two weeks.”

Turner pled guilty to having more than 50 unfixed dogs over the age of 6 months and to one count of failure to meet the minimum care standards for dogs in 2011, Hill said. She was sentenced to 365 days in jail on each count, with 364 days of each sentence suspended. Her two-year probation stipulated that she have no further violations, Hill said.

In 2010, SCRAPS brought in a veterinarian to triage all the dogs on site and ultimately seized 39. “There was, if I recall correctly, over 100 animals at the facility,” Hill said. “We took the ones the veterinarian had a concern over.”

As a part of the probation agreement, SCRAPS has been allowed to do frequent unannounced visits of Turner’s facility. Reports written by animal protection officers show that there have been repeated problems at the kennel since then. “We’ve been going out there quite a bit,” Hill said.

Documents show that since 2011 animal protection officers have noted dogs not receiving proper veterinary treatment, rodents in the dog food, having more than the 50 allowed dogs and unsanitary conditions causing a strong ammonia odor. At one point Turner was also ordered to take better care of several thin horses that had overgrown hooves. The repeated violations have resulted in a probation hearing scheduled for Wednesday in District Court, Hill said.

Hill said a decision was made to file formal criminal charges in the most recent instance because a complaint had been made. “We were dealing with the animal cruelty on the puppy,” she said.

SCRAPS first investigated Turner in 1990 when it received a complaint about an unlicensed kennel. Hill, who was an animal protection officer at the time, handled the complaint. Turner became licensed and until recently had only had minor issues during the annual inspections required to renew her license. “I would say that over the years we’ve had corrections,” she said.

According to Rapier’s most recent report, Turner’s license expired in October.