Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18648
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011

County: Saint Louis

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Deborah Anne Boucha

For the first time the owner of the 38 Siberian Huskies, found malnourished near the Ash River Trail last week, speaks out saying the charges against her are unfair.

For the past week, 36 pure-bred Siberian Huskies have been regaining strength at an animal shelter after being taken from their owner pending charges of malnourishment and animal cruelty.

"They are doing remarkable," Alyssa Garcia, Animal Control Officer for the City of Hibbing said. "They are doing better than we could have ever imagined. They are coming out of their shells; they are starting to get their personalities. They are just doing really, really good."

Meanwhile the dog's owner, 59-year old Deborah Anne Boucha has been struggling to cope with the loss of what she calls her best friends.

"They have never been away from me," Boucha said. "No one else has ever cared for them; it has solely been me. And they will never, ever be connected with anyone such as myself."

Officials came to Boucha's home after receiving a note Boucha had left in her mailbox stating that she and her dogs were starving.

Authorities say they found the Siberian Huskies chained up throughout the yard with little food.

"A veterinarian on the case euthanized two animals on-scene because of their condition," investigator Daniel Steel said. The rest were dehydrated, anemic, and underweight.

Steel said the animals multiplied at the woman's home as she let them breed. He said deputies had been at the home for a welfare check three years ago and counted seven dogs. He said other people had been helping her out in the past to keep the dogs healthy.

Boucha explains the malnourishment saying she had been cutting back on the dog's food rations while waiting for a feed delivery from her butcher for nearly four weeks.

She says she always fed her dogs the highest quality dog food.

"The dogs had emergency feed but they lost weight, I will stress because I did not want to use the full amount of feed for fear that they would run totally out, and for sure die," Boucha said.

Criminal charges are still pending the results of several medical tests conducted by the Range Regional Animal Rescue.

A bond of $8,700 has been set for Boucha to get the dogs out of the shelter. The amount is based on the costs of keeping the animals in the shelter the veterinarian bills to treat the dogs.

But the dogs won't be released to her care at any cost until a judge rules that Boucha is fit to be the dogs' caretaker.

Boucha says in the meantime she is struggling emotionally. She says she has dealt with lupus for much of her life and the Siberian huskies have been her passion.

"My dogs will run away, they will have a fate worse than going hungry down to skin and bone, than living with someone else and be placed somewhere else. These Siberians are a pack," she said.

If she gets the dogs back Boucha says she plans to move further north and run a sled-dog trek with her huskies.

Boucha, who says she loves her dogs, is asking for donations from anyone to help her pay the bond bill before Friday.

St. Louis County Sheriff's Office investigator Mark Steel said that the home has been the subject of numerous other calls for law enforcement not connected to the dogs.

The St. Louis County Sheriff says anyone wishing to assist the Range Regional Animal Rescue with donations should call them at 218-262-1900.


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