Case Snapshot
Case ID: 13262
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Friday, Feb 22, 2008

County: Hardin

Disposition: Not Charged
Case Images: 4 files available

Person of Interest: Michele Kintzer

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Authorities discovered nearly three dozen malnourished dogs at an unlicensed rescue operation on a farm in Hardin County.

An official with the Hardin-Eldora Animal Rescue Team called the sheriff's office last week after learning many of the animals were only half their healthy weight.

The operator of the unlicensed shelter in rural Eldora agreed to surrender the dogs to area animal clinics, the Boone County Humane Society and Animal Rescue League of Marshall County.

The incident reportedly took place at 27082 255th St. in Eldora.

"It was just a disaster, and we got called in to do what we're supposed to do," said Bill Spece, shelter manager of the Animal Rescue League.

Spece added the dogs were desperate.

"They were in absolute dire need, near death. They were just skin and bones," he said.

Spece noted authorities also found the body of a dog and some cats at the farm.

Amy Haas-Gray, president of the Hardin-Eldora Animal Rescue Team, said more dogs would have died without intervention. Haas-Gray said animals were kept in various places in the yard, tied to trees and kept in kennels inside a building.

The Hardin-Eldora Animal Rescue Team is a state-certified organization that finds homes for animals in need.

Haas-Gray said she believes the owner was trying to run her own rescue operation and seemed oblivious to the dire conditions.

"She thought the dogs were fine," Haas-Gray said. "She kept insisting she was feeding them."

"I kept telling her, 'They are dying.'"

No charges have been filed.

Two phone numbers listed for the rural address were not in service. A call made to a number for Waggin' Tails Animal Rescue went to voice mail, where a woman identifying herself as Michele said messages might not be returned immediately because she wasn't feeling well.

According to minutes from the meeting, Michele Kintzer of the Waggin' Tails Animal Rescue addressed the Hardin County Board of Supervisors in August. At that time Kintzer asked for a letter of support because she was establishing the organization. No action was taken at the meeting.

According to court documents, the Iowa Department of Agriculture issued a cease and desist order against Kinzter in June. Kintzer after pleading guilty in November in Franklin County after being charged with dealing animals without a license. The charge is a simple misdemeanor.

Kintzer paid a $450 fine.

Case Updates

A Des Moines attorney has been hired to seek justice for more than 40 dead or dying dogs found at a Hardin County farm known as Waggin' Tails Animal Rescue.

Diann Helmers, a 30-year veteran in animal rescue who runs Reinbeck's Agape Fosters, said attorney Angela Campbell agreed Monday to take the case, which seeks both farm owner Michele Kintzer and Hardin County law enforcement be held responsible for allowing the neglect to take place.

"I've seen some of the pictures and they're pretty horrific," said Campbell, who will advise Helmers on the legal options they may be able to pursue.

After 32 dogs were rescued in February, Kintzer eventually released six of the remaining eight, and three of those pets were brought to Marshalltown.

But animal rescuers have also found more dead animals, now totaling 15.

"Every time we turn around we find another one," said Amy Haas-Gray of the Hardin-Eldora Animal Rescue Team, which first responded to the situation. "... Why is it left up to the public to do this? ... There are laws that protect animals but no one will enforce them."

Kintzer left the property more than a month ago, according to Helmers and Haas-Gray, and a dog thought to have been taken with her was found dead inside the house. Others have been found dead in dumpsters and in the loft of the barn. Kintzer still has two dogs.

"It's just a progression of finding more and more and more," Helmers said.

No charges have been filed but the case is still open, said the Hardin County Attorney's Office Tuesday, though the county attorney has been busy with a homicide trial that just got underway this week.

Haas-Gray said she has shared all of the information she has with the county attorney, including veterinarian reports, pictures and pet autopsies that determined six of seven dogs had died from malnutrition.

Helmers pursued hiring a private attorney when she perceived the case to have hit dead ends with both the county sheriff's office and the county attorney.

"Why didn't the police do their job? It can't get more black and white," she said. "What I'm wanting is some accountability. ... It's not right, in a humane society, to let this happen."

Helmers has called for donations to help with legal costs associated with the case. For more information, contact her at 319-239-2268.
Source: Times-Republican - May 14, 2008
Update posted on May 19, 2008 - 12:07AM 


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