Case Snapshot
Case ID: 14234
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Friday, May 2, 2008

County: Matanuska Susitna

Charges: Summary
Disposition: Civil penalty imposed
Case Images: 2 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Doug Bartko

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Twenty-five emaciated dogs were rescued in the last two days from two properties on Lazy Mountain by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Animal Care. Many of the dogs are so thin and dehydrated that they need fluids through an IV before they can stomach any food.

On May 2, officers contacted Doug Bartko who refused to allow the officers to inspect the animals after someone complained. Food was left with Bartko as the officers observed the dogs from a distance, and they appeared to be thin.

On May 5, officers with Animal Care had a search warrant when they removed the dogs from Bartko's residence on Lazy Mountain Drive near Palmer.

Officers found 12 dogs were malnourished and three more dogs were dead, their remains tossed over an embankment on the Bartko property. The officers also found it apparent that other dogs had been recently removed.

From this property, initially 12 dogs were seized for protective custody and one of the three dead dogs was also recovered for examination.

A tip received on May 6, led officers to a property located off Wolverine Road where a dead dog was seen being removed from the property. Officers learned from the property owner that Bartko had placed many dogs on the man's land over the weekend with the land owner's permission. The land owner advised the officers he did not know the condition of the dogs when they were placed on his land. The dogs had no food or water available., officers said.

Nine dogs were seized and taken into protective custody. All of these dogs were extremely emaciated, dehydrated and many had a variety of injuries.

The same day (Tuesday) officers attempted to make contact with Bartko at his residence. Upon their arrival they observed that four more dogs had been brought back to the property. A resident of the property allowed officers to examine them. These four dogs were also emaciated and dehydrated. The animals were placed into protective custody.

The 25 husky mix dogs are under veterinary care for a variety of untreated injuries, as well as dehydration, malnutrition, and parasites. The cause of death for the one dog is under investigation.

Animal Care cited Bartko for five counts of interference with an investigation, ten counts of failure to provide humane animal care. He has also been served a revocation notice of his kennel license, as well as, notice of the Borough's intent to retain the seized animals. Additional charges are pending including, failure to provide humane care, interference, and possible cruelty charges.

Because of this case, the dog population at the shelter is over capacity. Ten kennels have been set up outside to manage the influx of dogs. Animal Care is reducing its adoption fees for adoptable animals to aid in making room in the shelter: $20 off adoption of a dog, $15 off the adoption fee of a cat. The adoption fee includes spay or neuter, microchip and registration and shots plus a 5lb-bag of food. If you are interested in the adoption of a life-long friend please contact the shelter at 746-5500 or look at the adoptable pets on their web page at

For more information call Animal Care Chief Dave Allison at 745-5343.

Case Updates

Musher Doug Bartko was found guilty of 39 counts of animal cruelty, failure to provide care for his dogs and interfering with an investigation in a Palmer court Tuesday.

A judge found Bartko guilty of starving and neglecting his 25 sled dogs, discovered by Animal Control officials in May.

Bartko is now facing some hefty fines from the Mat-Su Borough. Still, some say his punishment is too light.

Bartko's 25 dos are now in the borough's custody after Animal Control officials uncovered what they called one of the worst cases of cruelty they had ever seen.

Dr. Katrina Zwolinski says the dogs taken from Bartko's kennel on Lazy Mountain were malnourished, dehydrated and sick.

One of the dogs had already died but the borough took the other 25 into custody.

Zwolinski and a couple of volunteers have nursed them back to good health but some are still very anti-social.

Mat-Su Borough Attorney Lisa Thomas says the only consequence in this case is financial.

"These are all violations," she said. "These are not criminal offenses in the sense of a misdemeanor or a felony; they're violations under borough code."

Bartko will have to pay fines for each offense, which for the 39 counts will total $5,400.

"The monetary amount that comes out of the 39 counts is pretty minimal compared to the expense that it took to get these animals back to normal health," Dr. Zwolinski said.

Zwolinski says she would like to see stricter punishment for cases like Bartko's.

"Obviously raising a fine to a higher amount for one charge would be a place to start," she said. "That's a place to start, at least."

Bartko was convicted of animal cruelty back in 2006 and in 1983 he was disqualified from the Iditarod for not taking proper care of his dogs.
Source: KTUU - July 3, 2008
Update posted on Dec 4, 2008 - 9:42PM 


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