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Saturday, Oct 16, 2004County: Matanuska Susitna
Defendant/Suspect: David Straub
Case Updates: 3 update(s) available
Mat-Su animal officers are looking for foster homes for 28 sled dogs taken away from a Willow musher. According to Dave Allison, the chief of the Mat-Su Borough's Animal Care and Regulation office, musher David Straub was cited Saturday with 17 counts of animal cruelty. Allison says all of the dogs were thin and dehydrated, with 10 being described as emaciated, while one dog died a week ago Sunday at the end of his line.
Allison says he revoked Straub's kennel license. He told KTUU-TV that he wanted to make it clear that Straub is not representative of the dog mushing community.
|A former Iditarod musher said he wants satisfaction from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for seizing his malnourished dogs three years ago and curtailing his mushing career.|
David Straub, 48, of Willow filed a "nonconsensual common law lien" several months ago that holds the borough responsible for his claimed loss in October 2004 of $1.5 million in property, namely his kennel of sled dogs.
The property on which Straub placed his lien, 77 acres at 1200 N. 49th State St., is the site where the borough plans to expand its crowded animal shelter. Straub's lien muddies the title to borough property where animal control officers held the dogs they seized from Straub in 2004.
"I want to forgive them, but it's hard to forget," Straub said Wednesday. "I had a 25-year dream ripped out from under me."
The borough filed suit against Straub on Dec. 16 in Palmer Superior Court, seeking to remove the lien. In court filings, the borough claims that unless the lien is lifted by Jan. 28, plans for a new, $5 million shelter are in jeopardy.
The borough three years ago seized 28 of Straub's 32 dogs. Some of the animals were so emaciated their bones showed, according to witnesses, including four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser, who testified against Straub in 2005.
The Associated Press reported at the time that 10 dogs either died or were euthanized after arriving at the borough animal shelter.
Straub in April 2005 was convicted of animal cruelty and fined $300 for violating borough code. Two weeks later, he was cited again, this time for keeping seven dogs, including two involved in the cruelty case, without the proper kennel license.
At the time, Straub said Wednesday, he'd broken his neck in a fall at a Wasilla construction site. He was out of work for many months, and that led to money problems that he blamed for the condition of his dogs.
"I didn't come to Alaska to be mean to dogs. You don't set the red lantern record by being mean to dogs," he said, referring to the trophy given to the Iditarod's last-place finisher.
He said he still holds the fastest time for a red lantern finisher. "I'm proud of my accomplishments."
Of the $1.5 million damages claim, Straub said the number is "not arbitrary. I basically lost hundreds of thousands of dollars when they took my veterans. Six of those dogs finished with me in Nome. Those weren't poodles. They had Swenson and Butcher (dogs') bloodlines," citing a couple of the Iditarod's most notable names.
"They destroyed my property, my dogs. That's destruction of private property without a court case. U.S. law frowns on that," Straub said.
Borough attorney Nicholas Spiropoulos refused to comment on the case Wednesday except to say, "I'm not comfortable making statements about ongoing litigation."
The borough lawsuit claims the borough "unexpectedly" discovered the lien during a Dec. 14 title search that's required to complete a plat on the property.
As part of its financing plan for the shelter expansion, the borough divided the 77 acres into three parcels called Tri-Central Subdivision. Unless the lien is lifted by Jan. 28, the borough will be unable to either obtain bond insurance or apply for a bond rating, Borough Manager John Duffy stated in an affidavit filed with the lawsuit. The borough plan is to finance the new shelter through a public bond issue.
To deter the risk "of serious financial hardship," the borough requested an expedited ruling from the court. A construction delay could set the borough back "hundreds of thousands of dollars," according to Duffy.
No date is set for a hearing, according to online court records. The case is assigned to Judge Kari Kristiansen.
Despite his legal claim, Straub said, "I don't want the borough's money. They could use that money to build a decent school in the Upper Valley. Give those kids more than just classrooms. They need some extras. That's why I want to be borough mayor. I want to help, to make things better. I don't want to put a lien on my constituents."
Straub ran an unsuccessful bid for Mat-Su Borough mayor in October 2006. He collected less than 5 percent of the vote total.
Straub said all he really wants is an apology from borough officials for killing his dogs.
"It sure would make a big difference knowing that there might be real people down there in the borough," he said. "I just need a little compassion. That would make me feel good."
|Source: Anchorage Daily News - Dec 28, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 2, 2008 - 11:08PM
|A judge fined David Straub $300 on Wednesday for violating Matanuska-Susitna Borough code. The borough north of Anchorage already had withdrawn the license that allowed him to keep more than four dogs. |
Animal control officers seized 28 of David Straub's 32 dogs in October from his property after receiving complaints. One dog died at a shelter in November of illness; surviving dogs were adopted out.
Any musher found guilty of cruel or inhumane treatment of an animal is suspended from the Iditarod and must wait five years before seeking reinstatement, race spokesman Chas St. George said Thursday.
Four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser testified he saw the dogs at the shelter after Straub asked him for help.
"I was appalled," Buser said. "It does not take a few days of not feeding your animals to look like that. It takes many months of neglect."
Friends said Straub tried to care for his dogs, but had money problems.
After the verdict, Straub vowed to rebuild his kennel.
Straub finished the Iditarod for the first time in 2002, when he received the Red Lantern prize awarded to last-place finishers.
|Source: Yahoo News/Associated Press - April 7, 2005|
Update posted on Apr 8, 2005 - 4:08PM
|More than a dozen of nearly 30 malnourished sled dogs seized from Willow musher David Straub in October are back in limbo, and at least one faces euthanasia. |
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough placed the healthier dogs with foster keepers in October.
Two big-name mushers who initially took in some of the animals to help them recuperate have returned the dogs to the borough. One musher said Tuesday that she's busy training for upcoming races and needs the space for her dogs.
Wasilla rescue group founder Gale Landingham last week rescued three Straub dogs and is paying $2 a day to kennel them until foster or permanent owners can be found.
Another 11 dogs, at least, are with foster keepers, said shelter director Dave Allison.
One died of cancer. Another, a small husky mix turning constant circles in his kennel, is at the shelter.
Allison said some of the remaining 12 may have been euthanized, but most are with their original foster keepers.
The sled dogs, accustomed to outdoor life, are not quickly adopted, Allison said.
"When people come in, they see a sled dog," he said. "They don't want a sled dog. They don't want a non-house-trained pet. So it's very hard to place them."
The three dogs Landingham adopted made the shelter's "last chance" list last week. Officials say that just means they are eligible for rescue by legitimate groups. Rescuers say "last chance" means the dogs were about to be put down.
The borough animal control board revoked Straub's kennel license in November. Straub, contacted Tuesday night while recovering from neck surgery, said he didn't even know the shelter was allowed to adopt out his dogs.
The 44-year-old plans to fight the 17 animal cruelty charges filed against him.
"I want my family back," Straub said. "I raised every one of those dogs from hand before their eyes were even open. People out there think I was starving my dogs? That's outrageous."
Straub has run the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race three times, last in 2002. Later that year, he said, he was injured falling from the roof of the Wasilla Senior Center.
He still runs a dog tour business and plans to give free tours this season with the four old female dogs he was allowed to keep.
Borough animal control officers removed 28 of Straub's dogs from his lot in mid-October.
Straub wasn't feeding his dogs, said authorities who described animals so dehydrated their furry hides hung off bony frames. Straub says he fed the dogs daily with salmon carcasses and dog food.
Musher Lynda Plettner last week returned 15 of Straub's dogs that she had agreed to care for temporarily.
"I have four people training and it's snowing and I need the (dog) houses for puppies," Plettner said. "I was doing it for free."
Iditarod champ Martin Buser also took in some of the dogs and had to return them, Allison said.
The dogs make great matches for novice mushers or anybody looking to put together a recreational dog team, Allison said.
He couldn't say exactly when or whether the lone Straub dog at the shelter might be put down. The shelter has put down only one adoptable animal in about a year, in part because of rescue groups.
"It depends," he said. "It's been here for a while, it's not in great shape and it won't be in great shape for a long, long time."
To see the Straub dogs at the shelter go to www.adoptafriend.net.
|Source: Anchorage Daily News - Dec 22, 2004|
Update posted on Dec 29, 2004 - 1:31PM
- KTUU - Oct 18, 2004
- KTVA - October 20, 2004
- Anchorage Daily News - April 7, 2005
- New York Lawyer - April 7, 2005
- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - April 10, 2005
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