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Wednesday, Jun 14, 2006County: Dane
Disposition: Dismissed (Conditional)
Persons of Interest:
» Robert Lowery
» Julie Dzikowich
Case Updates: 21 update(s) available
All day long, Dane County Humane Society workers were bringing pit bull after pit bull into their facility. The animals were recovered from a home west of Lake Wabesa and the veterinarian examining the animals says they appear to have been part of a dog–fighting ring.
"We're seeing things like fractures, animals have missing limbs," said Dr. Sandra Newbury. "We're seeing injuries to the eyes, injuries to the hair coat and skin."
Officials at the Wisconsin department of justice say two people, a husband and wife, have been taken into custody and charges are pending.
They did not say what those charges might be.
Humane society officers say law enforcement was responding to a drug bust at the home on Lake Farm road and that's what led to the dogs.
Now, the humane society has to house the pit bulls for an unknown length of time until the drug investigation is complete.
And spokesman Sean McBryde says that is putting a serious strain on their available space.
"We're sort of in a fervor to get all of the cute and cuddly animals out and in a proper home," said McBryde, "so that we can make room for these animals that are going to require a lot of our attention."
McBryde says the humane society is waiving its $100 adoption fee for the next week, so they can move the adoptable dogs out and make room for the pit bulls.
As far as adopting the pit bulls goes, the vet treating them says there is no way to know if that will ever be possible. Right now, they're just trying to keep the dogs comfortable.
|The saga of dozens of pit bulls that were once considered evidence in a criminal trial and have been held for months at the Dane County Humane Society is finally reaching a conclusion.|
Under a deal reached on March 19, the society is paying $9,000 to take ownership of the animals from Robert Lowery, who is in a federal prison hospital, and Julie Dzikowich, who lives in the couple's town of Dunn home. The terms of the agreement have also been approved by Dane County officials and the District Attorney's Office.
Dog fighting charges against Lowery and Dzikowich were dismissed, and a lawsuit by the couple against the county demanding the return of the dogs was also dismissed.
"I'm happy with the settlement," said assistant district attorney Judy Schwaemle. "I'm glad it's over."
Society to pay $9,000 for pit bulls
Photo by Mike DeVries/The Capital Times
A pit bull impounded at the Dane County Humane Society.
The settlement ends what likely was the most bizarre nine months for staff at the shelter on Madison's far southeast side. The 47 pit bulls they tended to were kept in solitary confinement away from other pets and visitors and were considered wards of the state in a criminal case.
Only 41 dogs are left because two pit bulls were euthanized earlier this month after a fight between the two caused severe injuries to both, and four other pit bulls had been euthanized earlier for medical reasons.
A previous settlement announced in January never materialized. Lowery and Dzikowich had wanted nine pit bulls returned to them as family pets in exchange for dropping the dog fighting charges and lawsuit. The remaining dogs would have been turned over to the shelter with no payment to the couple.
Humane Society board president Cathy Holmes said the new settlement will allow the shelter to get back to its main mission of helping homeless animals at a time of the year when there's a large influx of new animals coming in to the shelter.
"After all that's happened the past nine months it's unbelievable this situation could be resolved for money, namely $9,000," Holmes said in a statement today. "While there are many demands on the resources of the Dane County Humane Society, we believe these funds are well spent to complete this settlement."
Charles Giesen, attorney for Lowery and Dzikowich, said the settlement was fair.
"The dogs' condition has deteriorated badly while they were kept in the cages, not getting any exercise," Giesen said. "My clients are pleased they are being compensated."
The $9,000 equates to $1,000 for each of the pit bulls that were to have been returned to Dzikowich.
Lowery is in a federal hospital recovering from cancer surgery. He was convicted in February on federal drug trafficking charges.
Of the remaining pit bulls, the majority have been deemed unsafe by shelter officials and will be euthanized. The rest will be evaluated by animal behaviorists to see if they can be sent to either dog rescues or sanctuaries outside of Wisconsin.
None of the pit bulls will be allowed to be adopted locally.
"I don't think it was possible to have a completely happy ending to this story," Giesen said. "But it was best to salvage what we could, for both the dogs and my clients."
|Source: The Capital Times - March 21, 2007|
Update posted on Mar 22, 2007 - 2:33AM
|A settlement announced last month between the owners of 47 pit bulls and Dane County officials has not taken effect because the dogs' owners are seeking changes and have not signed the final agreement.|
Consequently, the Dane County Humane Society still does not own the seized dogs and cannot euthanize the dangerous ones or let people adopt the others.
At issue is which nine of the 47 pit bulls the owners will get back as part of the settlement.
The pit bulls have been housed at the humane society -- racking up thousands of dollars in costs weekly -- since a police drug raid June 14 at the town of Dunn property of Robert Lowery and Julie Dzikowich.
In late January, the humane society, Dane County and the district attorney's office announced an agreement that transferred ownership of 38 of the dogs to the humane society. Nine dogs would be returned to Dzikowich, and dog-fighting charges against Lowery and Dzikowich would be dropped.
The couple agreed in January to a list of the nine dogs they would get back. But Thursday, their attorney, Charles Giesen, said Dzikowich would like to switch "one or two" of the dogs on the list. In one case, the couple's 9-year-old daughter wants a favorite dog back that is not on the list, he said.
Giesen downplayed the delay in signing the agreement. "There's nothing going on except some tweaking," he said.
He said humane society officials have asked for small changes, too. "My view is there should be some give and take on both sides," he said.
Cathy Holmes, president of the humane society board, said the society has not sought any changes. She said the couple is asking to swap out five dogs, not one or two, and some of those are more aggressive than the ones originally agreed to.
Deputy District Attorney Judy Schwaemle said she doesn't believe the delay is due to wanting a favorite dog back.
"I think they want a delay simply because it doesn't cost the defendants anything, only the other side," she said. "I think they hope to get further concessions by virtue of doing that."
Until the couple signs the agreement, the dog-fighting charges will move forward, Schwaemle said. No court dates are set.
Lowery was sentenced last week to six years in prison for running a large-scale marijuana importation business.
|Source: Madison.Com - Feb 23, 2007|
Update posted on Mar 12, 2007 - 5:25AM
|The deal that would have resolved the fate of 47 pit bulls seized last summer in a drug raid on a Town Of Dunn house has apparently hit a snag. |
A settlement was reached in January between the owners of the dogs and the Dane County Humane Society, which is currently housing the animals.
As part of the agreement, 25 dogs were due to be put down while nine others were to be returned to owners Robert Lowery and Julie Dzikowich. Also as part of the settlement, criminal charges against Lowery and Dzikowich related to an alleged dog-fighting operation will be dropped.
The Dane County District Attorney's Office now said that Lowery and Dzikowich haven't signed the agreement because they want to choose which dogs to keep.
Cathy Holmes, board president of the Humane Society, said that this snag increases their problems.
"Now that we've identified the more threatening dogs -- the ones we think we're going to have to put down and that we have some ideas for those that we can help -- I think it's even harder to sit and wait because we know what the future holds and we just want to get there and make it happen," Holmes said.
A court date on this matter is set for March 21, 2007.
|Source: WISC-TV - Feb 23, 2007|
Update posted on Feb 23, 2007 - 10:02PM
|A six-year federal prison sentence could keep Robert Lowery, who has cancer, in prison for the remainder of his days, Lowery's lawyer said Friday.|
U.S. District Judge John Shabaz, citing Lowery's criminal past, sentenced him Friday to the upper half of the range that Lowery faced under advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
"His criminal career must end," Shabaz said of Lowery, who was not in the courtroom Friday. Instead, Lowery was listening in by telephone from a federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C., where he is being treated for cancer.
The sentence, however, could mean that Lowery will die in prison, said his attorney, Charles Giesen.
"We just don't know," Giesen said. "I'm afraid it might."
Lowery, 58, a town of Dunn landscaper and former Dane County sheriff's deputy, pleaded guilty in December to running a large-scale marijuana importation business. A raid in June by federal agents and sheriff's deputies resulted in the seizure of 48 pit bull dogs from Lowery's property.
Lowery and his wife, Julie Dzikowich, sued to regain possession of the dogs, but were charged in Dane County Circuit Court in December with using some of them in dog fights. As part of a civil settlement reached last month, the dog fighting charges were dropped and nine of the dogs were to be returned to Dzikowich.
Giesen, said details of the agreement are still being hammered out.
Lowery was diagnosed with cancer seven months ago after a large tumor was found in his neck, but he did not have any treatment until the past week, Giesen said. Doctors do not believe they have removed the worst of the tumors, he said, and are uncertain whether the cancer has spread to other parts of Lowery's body.
Giesen asked Shabaz to sentence Lowery to a five-year sentence, the mandatory minimum for the crime under federal law, "to show Mr. Lowery some hope that this will not be a life sentence."
Lowery, given the opportunity to speak, only refuted an assertion by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Reinhard that he had asked not to receive cancer treatment.
But Shabaz said he did not consider Lowery's medical condition at all when making the sentencing decision.
In addition to the prison sentence, Shabaz also ordered Lowery to pay a $10,000 fine, which he said Lowery could afford to pay despite $254,725 in obligations to the humane society, his attorney and credit cards. Shabaz said the debts are offset by other assets.
|Source: Wisconsin State Journal - Feb 17, 2007|
Update posted on Feb 18, 2007 - 11:47AM
|A Town of Dunn woman might get her nine pit bulls returned after they were seized by authorities last summer, but she might not be allowed to keep them all at her home.|
Julie Dzikowich has written a letter to the Town of Dunn Board of Supervisors requesting a waiver from the town's dog ordinance, which prohibits residents from having more than five dogs, WISC-TV reported.
The animals are being returned to Dzikowich as part of a settlement with Dane County two weeks ago after 47 dogs were taken during a federal drug raid on the home that she shared with her husband, Robert Lowery. He is currently awaiting sentencing on federal drug trafficking charges.
The pit bulls were kept by the Dane County Humane Society for eight months until a settlement was reached, WISC-TV reported.
The case prompted the town to pass an ordinance in October that prohibits residents from owning more than five dogs.
Town of Dunn Board Chairman Ed Minihan said that he's predicting the board will turn down Dzikowich's request. The board will consider the waiver at its Feb. 19 meeting, WISC-TV reported.
"We'll either grant it or not," said Minihan, "And my guess is we won't."
Dzikowicz's letter to the board said that she already has three, licensed pet dogs and wants to bring home the nine pit bulls when they are released to her under the finalized settlement.
"She's going to have to find some place to put them," said Minihan. "She can have two additional dogs. The remainder will have to be placed in some other municipality."
Dzikowich wrote in her letter that if the dogs can't be returned to her, they might be euthanized by the Humane Society.
Dzikowich didn?t return WISC-TV's telephone calls for comment.
The settlement involving the 47 dogs was reached on Jan. 30 while Lowery and Dzikowicz were asking a court to return the animals. Under the agreement, the Dane County Humane Society will get custody of 38 of the dogs while Dzikowich received nine of the pit bulls. Humane Society officials said that they plan to euthanize 25 of them.
Also as part of the settlement, criminal charges against Lowery and Dzikowich related to an alleged dog-fighting operation will be dropped.
Minihan said that he expects many of the neighbors who have complained for years about the dogs will show up to argue against the waiver, WISC-TV reported.
|Source: Channel 3000 via Yahoo News - Feb 13, 2007|
Update posted on Feb 15, 2007 - 3:07AM
|The Dane County Humane Society will euthanize at least 25 of the 47 pit bulls it has been keeping since June after gaining ownership of 38 of the dogs, many of which were alleged to have been used in dog fighting, board President Cathy Holmes said Tuesday.|
But attorney Charles Giesen, who represented Robert Lowery and his wife, Julie Dzikowich, in their effort to have the dogs returned, said killing the dogs would "violate the spirit" of an agreement reached Monday.
Holmes said, "I think we've been very clear" that euthanasia was a possibility for many of the dogs, which behavior experts have found to pose a significant threat to public safety.
"We will do it humanely and with care," she said.
The agreement reached Monday between the humane society, Dane County, the district attorney's office and Lowery and Dzikowich, dismisses three criminal counts of dog- fighting each against Lowery and Dzikowich, who will not have to pay for the shelter's costs of more than $200,000 for caring for the dogs.
Under the agreement, the humane society receives ownership of 38 of the dogs. Nine dogs will be returned to Dzikowich, with several stipulations and restrictions.
Lowery, who will relinquish his ownership of the dogs, is at a federal prison hospital in Butsen, N.C., where he is being treated for cancer while awaiting sentencing for participating in a large-scale marijuana importation operation at the couple's property in the town of Dunn. The pit bulls were found there by police during a drug raid June 14.
Seven of the 38 dogs are considered friendly and the humane society will seek to place them with a rescue group or sanctuary outside of Wisconsin, Holmes said. Six other "questionable" dogs, which have not been found to be a significant threat but are "not friendly," will be re-evaluated, and could end up being euthanized or placed with a rescue group or sanctuary, she said.
The humane society has not set a time frame for euthanizing the dogs, Holmes said, adding that it would be difficult on staff to euthanize one right after another.
Holmes hoped that reaching an agreement would discourage threats against the humane society by individuals opposed to euthanizing the dogs. But humane society attorney Joseph Goode said the organization received two threats Monday after a morning news conference where the subject was discussed. The threats were reported to Madison police and the Dane County Sheriff's Office, which have been asked to increase their patrols, Goode said, adding the humane society also is continuing its own added security.
Goode said the agreement should be finalized in about 10 days.
Giesen said an expert hired by the humane society to evaluate the dogs in September found that none of the dogs posed "an imminent threat" and found it unnecessary to euthanize any dog at that time.
But in the same report, animal behavior specialist Daniel Q. Estep of Denver found that 22 of the pit bulls were threatening and aggressive to people or dogs and posed "a significant threat to public health safety or welfare under some conditions." Estep added four more dogs to that group after a second evaluation on Jan. 21.
"Because they pose a significant threat, I couldn't even send them to a home" for adoption, Holmes said. "Given unlimited resources and unlimited time, perhaps euthanasia would not be a requirement."
Holmes said the humane society has followed the same procedures in assessing the pit bulls as it does with all animals it receives. "This is not new to us," she said. "This is something we do day-in and day- out."
Four of the dogs being returned to Dzikowich "have always showed friendly behavior and never showed signs of dog fighting," Holmes said.
The other five showed signs of fighting, she said, adding, "They are not a danger . . . they are friendly dogs." Those dogs will be spayed or neutered.
The humane society will have the right to inspect Dzikowich's property four times a year for up to three years as part of the agreement, Holmes said, and Dzikowich is prohibited from transferring ownership of the dogs. Dzikowich also has agreed not to use the dogs for fighting and not to breed or train dogs to fight, Holmes said.
If a dog dies, the humane society will be able to conduct a necropsy to determine the cause of death, Holmes said.
|Source: RedOrbit - Jan 31, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 31, 2007 - 4:53PM
| The Dane County district attorney's office is dismissing criminal dog-fighting charges against Robert Lowery and his wife, Julie Dzikowich, as part of a settlement reached Monday, according to the Dane County Humane Society.|
The agreement, between the humane society, Dane County, the district attorney's office, Lowery and Dzikowich stipulates that of the 47 pit bulls that have been in the humane society's care since they were seized from the couple's property in the town of Dunn in June, 38 be given to the humane society.
Those 38 pit bulls are considered to be a threat to public health, safety and welfare, according to the humane society. Nine of the dogs, which are considered friendly, will be returned to Dzikowich. They will be required to undergo on-site inspections and have microchips implanted. They also cannot be transferred to other individuals.
Based on behavior assessments, the 38 dogs in the humane society's care will either be euthanized or, if found to be friendly, could go to a rescue group or sanctuary, said humane society President Cathy Holmes.
"Based on the evidence previously presented, it would be our belief there was dog fighting going on at one point and time," Holmes said. "We want to make sure the dogs that are returned will not be subjected to any kind of fighting."
Lowery, 58, and Dzikowich, 48, were each charged in December with three counts of instigating animal fights.
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard said the settlement was driven by a concern over the humane society's burden to keep and care for the dogs as wards of the state, and the fact that Robert Lowery is serving what is "essentially going to be a life sentence" in federal prison for unrelated charges.
Lowery, who pleaded guilty to a federal charge of taking part in a large-scale marijuana importation scheme, is at a federal prison hospital in Butsen, N.C., for cancer treatments, awaiting sentencing.
"In all cases, we have to evaluate the utility of a prosecution," Blanchard said. "Under Wisconsin law, the fate of these dogs cannot be decided until after the criminal case is completed. By completing the case, we can assist the humane society."
Holmes said this month that the shelter had spent $200,000 to care for the dogs and had to turn many other dogs away because more than half its space is taken up by the pit bulls. It also cut back its hours to save money because of the tab for the pit bulls' care.
A trial in a suit by Lowery and Dzikowich to regain the dogs started last week but had been extended to late March, an "unacceptable" amount of time for the dogs to spend in kennels, Holmes said.
"I don't know there was ever going to be a really good ending to the whole situation with the pit bulls," she said. "We're pleased it's ended."
Attorneys for Lowery and Dzikowich couldn't be reached for comment Monday night.
The dogs were discovered by police during a drug raid at the couple's property June 14. A humane society veterinarian concluded 32 had a history of involvement in or training for dog fighting, according to the criminal complaint. The dogs had a high prevalence of scarring, puncture wounds, broken teeth, severe skin trauma and injuries caused by other canine teeth.
|Source: Wisconsin State Journal - Jan 31, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 31, 2007 - 3:17PM
|Dogs seized in a raid on a town of Dunn farm last summer do not pose a threat to the public and should be returned to their owners, the veterinarian who treated them testified in a court trial Tuesday and today.|
"If I was going to make a solution to this problem I would put those dogs back into their environment" on the farm owned by Robert Lowery and his wife, Julie Dzkowich, said Dr. Morris Link, owner of the Spring Harbor Animal Hospital.
Link's testimony came in a civil case in which Lowery and Dzkowich, both of whom face criminal charges of being party to the crime of dog fighting, have filed suit to get the dogs returned to them. The dogs currently are being housed at the Dane County Humane Society.
The 47 pit bulls were seized in a joint drug operation in which state, federal and local law enforcement personnel executed a search warrant at the farm on Lake Farm Road. While authorities seized 15 pounds of marijuana and a substantial amount of cocaine, they also took the pit bulls.
At issue in what was expected to be a two-day trial before Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi is whether the couple can get the dogs returned. Lowery is currently being treated for cancer in a federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C., and is awaiting sentencing on a federal drug conviction in Madison. He has appeared at the civil trial by telephone.
Link was on the stand most of Tuesday and for a brief time this morning and said he saw no evidence that Lowery and Dzkowich ever used the dogs for fighting purposes. "Bob ran a good operation," he said.
Under cross examination this morning, Link said he was aware that Lowery had been convicted of dog fighting in 1983, and that meant that he and other vets at the Spring Harbor facility scrutinized the Lowery dogs under their care more than they normally would.
Link also said it was all but impossible to tell how dogs got various wounds on them - as the Lowery dogs have - and he listed several ways wounds could occur other than by staged dog fights.
But his testimony will be countered later in the trial when the Humane Society and Dane County, which oppose turning the dogs back to Lowery and Dzkowich despite the strain on county coffers to keep the animals under guard, get their turn.
Dr. Sandra Newbury, director of animal medical services at the Dane County Humane Society, is expected to testify that the seized dogs have various wounds and bite marks that are consistent with having been in fights, while animal behavior expert Daniel Q. Estep is expected to say that at least 22 of the dogs still pose a significant threat to the public health and safety. The county also contends that because of the criminal charges the dogs cannot be returned to the farm until those cases are finished.
While Link was on the stand Tuesday, attorney Charles Giesen, who represents Lowery and Dzkowich, showed a video of Link vaccinating several of the dogs in 2004 as Lowery held them. Each of the dogs had its own doghouse and was chained, and they enthusiastically greeted the two men as they approached.
Also on the stand today was Ronald Cross, who works for the J&B Lawn Service owned by Lowery and Dzkowich and also helped care for the dogs. He testified the dogs were friendly and he saw no indication they were used for fighting.
|Source: The Capital Times - Jan 24, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 24, 2007 - 3:58PM
|A hearing in Dane County Court on Tuesday will decide the fate of 47 pit bulls.|
The Dane County Humane Society and the pit bulls' owner, Robert Lowery, both want possession of the dogs.
The animals have been in legal limbo since they were seized during an alleged drug raid on Lowery's property last June.
The Humane Society has been under court order to hold the pit bulls as evidence because they are suspected of being used for dog-fighting.
|Source: Yahoo News - Jan 23, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 23, 2007 - 5:19PM
| A Waukesha County couple who brought hundreds of pounds of marijuana to a town of Dunn landscaper were sentenced Wednesday to federal prison terms.|
Jason Carr, 26, was sentenced to 3 years in prison and his wife, Heather Lane, 27, received two years and nine months in prison from U.S. District Judge John Shabaz for taking part in a marijuana importation scheme in which they brought nearly 450 pounds of marijuana to Wisconsin from Arizona in rental cars.
A police raid in June at the home of Robert Lowery during the investigation of the marijuana case led to the discovery of 47 pit bulls that prosecutors have alleged were used in dog fights. Lowery, 58, along with his wife, Julie Dzikowich, 49, is charged in Dane County Circuit Court with three counts of instigating dog fights.
Lowery has also pleaded guilty to his role in the marijuana case and is scheduled to be sentenced by Shabaz on Feb. 16. In addition, a trial in Lowery's lawsuit for the return of his dogs, sheltered at the Dane County Humane Society since June, will be held next week.
Carr and Lane, who married in October and have two children, have provided prosecutors with information not only about Lowery's role in the drug case but also about the dog- fighting case.
As he sentenced Carr, Shabaz said he believed Carr was an equal partner to Lowery in the importation scheme.
Carr, who had no significant prior criminal record, apologized to Shabaz and to his family for getting involved in the scheme and promised he is finished with drugs.
"I'm done," Carr said. "This ruined my life, this ruined my wife's life, this ruined my kids' life. I don't know what else to say but I'm sorry. I made a mistake and now I must pay for it."
|Source: Wisconsin State Journal - Jan 18, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 19, 2007 - 6:32PM
|Dane County Humane Society officials are anxious for federal drug trafficking charges to move forward against a man and his wife.|
That's because they are taking care of 47 pit bull terriers owned by Robert Lowery and his wife, Julie Dzikowich, who were arrested in June.
The pit bulls are considered evidence used in dog fighting charges against the couple.
The cost to keep the dogs has grown to more than 200-thousand dollars and the bill grows by six thousand dollars a week.
The humane society has cut hours to save money.
Human Society board president Cathy Holmes says she hopes the pit bull costs will be paid by either Dane County or by Lowery, who still owns the dogs.
She says its bringing down staff morale.
|Source: WBAY - Jan 15, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 15, 2007 - 2:57PM
|A scheduled preliminary hearing on dog fighting charges against Robert Lowery, who also faces major drug charges in federal court, will be postponed today and likely rescheduled for February because Lowery is being treated for cancer at a federal prison in North Carolina.|
Deputy District Attorney Judy Schwaemle wrote in a letter to Dane County Circuit Court Judge Stuart Schwartz that despite her office's efforts to have Lowery kept in Dane County until his preliminary hearing on the dog fighting charges, the U.S. Marshal's office, acting on orders of U.S. District Judge John Shabaz, put Lowery on a plane for North Carolina on Dec. 21, making him unavailable for today's hearing.
Lowery, 58, and his wife, Julie Dzikowich, 49, face three counts each in Dane County Circuit Court of instigating fights between animals, charges which came after a search warrant was executed at their town of Dunn home by authorities who were searching for drugs.
A large cache of drugs was seized in that June raid on their home, and Lowery was subsequently convicted of importing marijuana from Mexico to be sold in Wisconsin. He faces sentencing on that charge on Feb. 16, and Schwaemle asked in her letter to have the preliminary hearing on the local charges set for Feb. 17 for both Lowery and Dzikowich.
During the drug raid authorities seized some 50 dogs from the property, including 48 pit bulls that are still being held at the Dane County Humane Society shelter. Schwaemle said in her letter to Schwartz that it is important to move the case along because of the burden to the Humane Society.
While Lowery has filed a suit in Dane County Court to have the dogs returned, the Humane Society has filed a petition to have Lowery pay for some of the costs of keeping the dogs impounded.
Under state law, the dogs must be kept in the shelter until the dog fighting case is resolved. The Dane County Board added $100,000 to the Humane Society budget for 2007 to help offset the cost of the dogs being kept there. The Humane Society said in mid-December that cost is about $180,000.
|Source: The Capital Times - Jan 3, 2007|
Update posted on Jan 4, 2007 - 1:58AM
|A preliminary hearing has been set on the dog-fighting charges for both defendants on January 3, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. in the Dane County Courthouse, located at 215 S. Hamilton St, Madison, WI 53703.|
|Source: Dane County Court, Docket #'s 06CF3833 & 06CF2832|
Update posted on Dec 14, 2006 - 5:13PM
|Six months after law enforcement officials seized 48 pit bulls on their property, a town of Dunn landscaper and his wife were charged Tuesday with breeding, training and using many of the dogs for fighting.|
The charges were met with relief at the Dane County Humane Society, which has housed the dogs since the raid and has so far borne the $180,000 bill for their care.
Humane society officials hope the charges will lead to a judge granting them custody of the dogs, and, possibly, requiring the couple to reimburse them for boarding costs. The couple currently retains legal ownership of the dogs.
The delay in charging the couple with any animal-related offenses had come under criticism from the couple's defenders, who speculate prosecutors would have charged the couple earlier if their case were strong.
Robert Lowery, 58, and his wife, Julie Dzikowich, 48, were each charged Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court with three felony counts of instigating animal fights - one for promoting a dog fight, one for allowing a site for a dog fight and one for possessing a dog with the intent of using it in a fight.
The dogs were discovered by police during an unrelated drug raid at the couple's property June 14. Lowery pleaded guilty Friday to a federal drug charge for running a marijuana importation operation. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 16.
After the pit bulls were seized, a humane society veterinarian concluded 32 had a history of involvement in or training for dog fighting, according to the criminal complaint. The dogs had a high prevalence of scarring, puncture wounds, broken teeth, severe skin trauma and injuries caused by other canine teeth.
A former employee of Lowery's landscaping business, identified in the complaint as Antoine Richards, told police he observed at least 20 dog fights on Lowery's property in 2003 and 2004. The fights were not official because no referees were present, but Lowery used the fights for training purposes, Richards told police.
Richards said he traveled with Lowery to Michigan in 2004 and watched him enter a dog in a pit bull fight and place bets on it, according to the complaint. Richards said he saw Lowery shoot and kill pit bulls on his property at least six times because the dogs had a flaw, such as showing signs they would quit during a fight.
Also in the complaint, police quote e-mail messages to and from Lowery in which he appears to discuss dog fights.
"I always worry about their mental recovery after a tough one as much as the physical," he wrote in one.
Seized during a search of the couple's property were "break sticks with bite marks used for prying apart the jaws of a dog engaged in a fight" and a "cat mill," in which a cat is used as bait as a dog chases it around in a circle for conditioning, according to the complaint.
Lowery was sentenced to six months in jail on dog-fighting and drug charges in 1983. His attorney, Charles Giesen, said Lowery denies the current charges.
"He vehemently denies that he was fighting dogs or maintaining his property for that purpose, and he will plead not guilty," Giesen said.
Jason Lowery, 35, of Appleton, one of Lowery's three sons, speculated Tuesday that the charges against his father were long in coming because prosecutors have a weak case.
"I think it's because of limited evidence," he said. "They're trying to save face now. If they took all those dogs and spent all that money, it would look really bad if they didn't file charges."
Lowery said his father loved the dogs and that they weren't aggressive. "You could walk right up and pet them."
An animal behaviorist hired by the humane society has said 22 of the dogs are so aggressive they pose a public safety threat and may need to be euthanized. If the dogs were to be killed, "we would carry out a humane euthanization for those animals, which we feel is far better than dying in the middle of a dog fight," society board president Cathy Holmes said Tuesday.
Neither Dzikowich nor her attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday.
District Attorney Brian Blanchard said the case took time to put together in part because animal abuse allegations are often complex and the state statutes governing them are complicated. Also, his office was involved in ongoing negotiations with attorneys for Lowery and Dzikowich prior to the charges being filed, he said.
Blanchard wouldn't discuss those negotiations. In a Nov. 6 letter to attorneys for Lowery and Dzikowich obtained by the State Journal, Blanchard's office offered to not charge the couple if they relinquished control of the pit bulls to the humane society, agreed not to house any more animals and submit to an interview with police about the animals' histories.
Giesen, Lowery's attorney, said his client would never agree to turn over the dogs to the humane society.
"Bob Lowery has spent decades training and caring for these dogs," Giesen said. "There's no way he'd permit his dogs to be killed."
The humane society has been holding the dogs on behalf of Dane County. Holmes, the board president, said she is relieved by the charges.
"This really does support that there was a reason we've held these dogs so long and tried to be as supportive as we could of the district attorney's office."
That support had begun to weaken as delays in the case continued. On Monday, Holmes called the situation "a mess" and said the humane society had been asking for months for charges to be filed. "But what pressure can we apply other than being a pain?"
The pit bull case has contributed to the shelter proposing big changes to its contract with Dane County. Currently, the shelter gets about $500,000 a year from the county to take in all stray animals and pay for eight full- and part-time humane officers.
But the shelter gets no money for cases such as this one, in which animals are impounded because of possible criminal charges, Holmes said. Usually this has not been a problem because the cases are resolved quickly, she said.
The shelter agreed to take in the pit bulls because it thought the time period would be limited, Holmes said. It is not a long-term kennel, she said.
The shelter is negotiating with Dane County to have the county directly employ the officers. It also seeks the right to refuse to house impounded animals if it can't afford to do so, although Holmes said the number of times this would happen probably would be few.
Holmes thinks if the humane officers were county employees, county officials would have a greater awareness of the legal issues in animal cases and would be more apt to argue for the quick resolution of cases.
"I think if the county had been living through this and had been more involved themselves, there might have been a difference in how the district attorney handled the case," she said. "By insulating them from the issues, we take away some of that pressure."
Topf Wells, chief of staff to County Executive Kathleen Falk, said the county is evaluating the proposal and has not ruled anything out.
Meanwhile, the county is stepping in to help cover some of the shelter's pit bull costs. The recently approved 2007 county budget allocates $100,000 to help with boarding expenses.
|Source: Madison.Com - Dec 12, 2006|
Update posted on Dec 14, 2006 - 12:46AM
|A town of Dunn landscaper who was running a large-scale marijuana importation operation at his home pleaded guilty Friday to a federal drug charge.|
Robert A. Lowery, 58, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 16 by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz. Lowery had been set to stand trial next week on the marijuana charge, along with another drug-related charge and a weapons charge.
Lowery, a one-time Dane County sheriff's deputy, was indicted in June after police raided his property and found drugs, weapons and more than 50 pit bull dogs. Authorities alleged that Lowery's dogs were used in fights, but no animal-related charges have been filed. The dogs remain at the Dane County Humane Society, and Lowery filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking their return.
Lowery's attorney, Charles Giesen, said Lowery will be housed at a federal medical center in Rochester, Minn., where he can be treated for cancer. He has been housed at a hospital in South Carolina, but has yet to receive any treatment for a baseball-sized tumor on his neck, Giesen said.
Two Waukesha County residents who drove hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Arizona to Lowery's home have also pleaded guilty to taking part in the operation.
|Source: Madison.Com - Dec 9, 2006|
Update posted on Dec 14, 2006 - 12:45AM
|A former Dane County sheriff's deputy accused of drug trafficking is petitioning for the return of 48 dogs taken from his town of Dunn farm.|
Investigators believe Robert Lowery was using the dogs for illegal fighting. But the petition maintains Lowery and his partner are professional breeders and that's why he had so many dogs on his property.
State agents seized the dogs June 14th during a drug raid. They say besides the marijuana, cocaine and cash they seized, they also found items used to train dogs for fighting.
Lowery has pleaded not guilty to federal drug and weapons charges. He remains jailed.
The dogs are being cared for by the Dane County Humane Society.
A Humane Society veterinarian has told investigators some of the pit bulls had wounds or scars consistent with dog fighting.
The animal abuse case is still under investigation.
|Source: WBAY - July 21, 2006|
Update posted on Jul 21, 2006 - 3:04PM
|The Dane County Humane Society is pleading for donations to help cover costs for the 46 pit bulls still in the agency's care following their seizure from a town of Dunn farm last month.|
The Humane Society spent more than $20,000 to house the pit bulls in the first two weeks after police busted a suspected dog-fighting ring on June 14.
The shelter estimates it would cost $167,450 to keep them in protective custody through the end of the year.
"That's a huge burden on a small nonprofit," said spokesman Sean McBryde.
Because the pit bulls require special handling, their care is about 50 percent more expensive than that of regular stray and surrendered animals, McBryde said.
Special security measures are also necessary because of the risk someone could try to steal the pit bulls, McBryde said.
The Humane Society has changed the locks on the part of the facility where the pit bulls are held and hired a security guard to patrol the grounds at night - a service that will cost more than $18,000 if it continues through December.
The Humane Society will request reimbursement from Dane County, said Cathy Holmes, president of the board of directors. The county, in turn, could seek reimbursement from the dogs' owner, Robert Lowery.
The county has a $500,000 annual contract with the shelter to take in stray, abused or surrendered animals, McBryde said. The shelter's annual budget is about $2 million.
The pit bulls are considered wards of the state pending resolution of an animal- abuse investigation, McBryde said.
However, Lowery is still their owner, so the Humane Society cannot euthanize them, according to Holmes.
"One of the things we're hoping for is, if he were willing to relinquish ownership of those animals, we could move forward and do something to reduce costs," Holmes said, adding that she doesn't know whether anyone has asked Lowery to give the dogs up.
Lowery was indicted in U.S. District Court in June on charges of drug trafficking and possessing firearms as a convicted felon.
No dog-related charges have been filed.
The shelter is asking the public to give money through its Web site,
Donations can also be mailed to:
5132 Voges Road
Madison, WI 53718.
"Everyone at the shelter agrees that we are doing the right thing in getting these dogs out of danger," McBryde said.
"If this is the beginning of a movement that helps eliminate dog fighting in the United States, we are very happy to be part of it. We just need to be able to pay for it."
|Source: Wisconsin State Journal - July 5, 2006|
Update posted on Jul 5, 2006 - 10:20PM
|Investigators seized numerous records from the Spring Harbor Animal Hospital on Tuesday as they continued their investigation into their suspicions that Robert Lowery, who is charged with being a major marijuana and cocaine dealer, is involved in training pit bull dogs for fighting.|
Dr. Morris Link, who runs the Spring Harbor facility and has been Lowery's veterinarian for years, said he would be astonished if those allegations are true.
"I would almost bet my bottom dollar that he wasn't doing any fighting," Link said Friday.
In 20 years of treating dogs for Lowery, Link added, "I've never seen anything to indicate in any way anything to do with fighting dogs."
Link said a slew of investigators from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and state, county and local police forces searched his offices on Tuesday. "I don't know why the big influx," he said Friday. "They could have got all the information they wanted just by asking."
Agents of the state Justice Department's Criminal Investigation Division obtained a search warrant for the records of treatment and drugs prescribed for Lowery's pit bulls after they seized 52 dogs, including 50 pit bulls, during a drug raid on June 14 at Lowery's farm at 3554 Lake Farm Road in the town of Dunn.
At the time of the drug raid, investigators seized large amounts of both marijuana and cocaine, as well as cash, but also found numerous items associated with training pit bulls for fighting. It is illegal to conduct such fights in Wisconsin, to train dogs for fights or to make money from them.
Dr. Sandra Newbury, the veterinarian and animal medical services manager for the Dane County Humane Society, is quoted in the application for a search warrant for Spring Harbor as saying 10 of the pit bulls taken from Lowery's farm had wounds or scars consistent with dog fighting.
Link said today that he had seen "a number of dogs that looked like they had fought at some time, but they were healed," and had probably been bought by Lowery after they had been in fights.
"It certainly wasn't proof he was fighting dogs," Link said.
He also said that within the year he had amputated a portion of a leg of a dog that got its foot in a lawnmower. One of the dogs seized in the drug raid had a portion of a leg missing.
The search warrant application for Spring Harbor also said that during the drug raid at Lowery's farm, investigators found medications that Newbury says "are consistent with medications used to condition pit bulls for fighting and to treat pit bulls wounded in dog fighting incidences."
The search warrant application also says that when investigators conducted the drug raid at Lowery's, they found numerous items associated with training dogs for fights, including a treadmill commonly used to condition fighting dogs and a cat mill, which is also used to train dogs for fighting.
"This is done by attaching a cat or small animal to the mill," the search warrant complaint says, "attaching the dog to the mill, and allowing the dog to chase the small animal around in a circle for conditioning."
The cat mill at the Lowery farm had a stuffed teddy bear attached to where the bait animal would be, the search warrant says.
Also seized in the Lowery raid were plastic and wooden "break sticks" with bite marks - used to pry apart the jaws of dogs engaged in fights - and large quantities of medical supplies that could be used to treat injured dogs.
In the Spring Harbor Animal Hospital search, investigators took patient history reports, medical charts and drug dispensing logs for Lowery's dogs.
Lowery, who served as a Dane County sheriff's deputy for two years until being fired, was convicted of cocaine distribution in 1990.
|Source: The Capital Times - July 1, 2006|
Update posted on Jul 1, 2006 - 11:21AM
|A federal affidavit said a former Dane County sheriff's deputy hired a Waukesha County couple to bring hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Arizona to Wisconsin.|
Ex-deputy Robert Lowery, Jason Car and Heather Lane are charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. All three are in custody in Milwaukee. Lowery's girlfriend, Julie Ann Dzikowich, was charged with dealing cocaine, WISC-TV reported.
State agents and sheriff's deputies raided Lowery's town of Dunn home this week. Besides marijuana, cocaine, cash and guns, officers also found 52 dogs, including 50 pit bulls.
Many of the dogs seized in the raid had been maimed and injured, and it's feared that most, if not all, will have to be destroyed, WISC-TV reported.
Officials at the Dane County Humane Society said Lowery is also likely to face charges of animal cruelty for allegedly breeding pit bulls to fight and kill.
The affidavit said Carr told informants the house in Arizona where he picked up marijuana for Lowery is connected to a tunnel that leads under the Mexican border.
Lowery's attorney, Charles Giesen, said the affidavit includes a lot of hearsay and speculation. He said Lowery will plead not guilty to charges.
Lowery worked at a sheriff's deputy from 1979 to 1981. The sheriff at the time said Lowery was fired for making several hundred personal long-distance phone calls, many to dog breeders.
Lowery and a partner were convicted of organizing dog fights in 1983.
Authorities said the pit-bull ring came as a complete surprise to state drug agents as they raided the home.
Crowds Flock To Humane Society To Adopt
The intake of pit bulls taken from the home has also placed a tremendous strain on the Humane Society.
In an effort to create enough room for the seized dogs, all other dogs at the humane society are being given away for free next week, WISC-TV reported.
"Many people showed up at the humane society Thursday for a chance to bring a new pet home. Many who turned out learned that adoption fees were being waived while watching the news about the pit bulls.
One 14-year-old Lake Mills girl whom WISC-TV spoke with was filled with sadness over the fate of the pit bulls.
"It was just so awful, and I couldn't stand it. Who would make dogs fight just for fun? It's horrible," said Kylie Peterson.
First she just kind of stood there and then she went upstairs to go to bed, and I came up there and she was crying," said Larry Peterson, Kylie's father, on her reaction.
Humane Society employees and volunteers were also struggling with their emotions Thursday afternoon, as they have seen blind dogs and pit bulls missing legs.
Humane Society staff said the pit bulls must be kept isolated from one another or they would try to fight to the death.
A judge will determine the fate of the pit bulls, but at this point it looks as if they will have to be destroyed. Humane Society staffers said they are just too dangerous.
|Source: WISC-TV - June 16, 2006|
Update posted on Jun 16, 2006 - 12:26PM
|Authorities raided the home of a former Dane County Sheriff's deputy on Wednesday morning, arresting him and taking more than 50 pit bulls on his property to the Dane County Humane Society.|
Investigators descended on Robert Lowery's house, located in the 3500 block of Lake Farm Road in Madison, at about 10 a.m. The state Department of Criminal Investigation, part of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, was leading the raid
Lowery was taken into custody.
Approximately 52 pit bulls were found there and were then taken to the Humane Society.
The state attorney general's office, which handles charges in cases like this, is officially declined comment on the investigation and Lowery's charges.
Charles Giesen, Lowery's attorney, said that the dogs were taken in for safekeeping and his client's charges aren't related to the dogs.
Lowery was previously arrested and convicted on drug and dog-fighting charges in 1983. Those dogs were also taken to the Humane Society, WISC-TV reported.
This influx of dogs presents problems for Humane Society officials, largely because the animals won't be going home to anyone.
Humane Society officials said that they suspect the animals were involved with dog-fighting, although state authorities are not confirming this.
For most of the day on Wednesday, pit bulls from Lowery's property were brought in to the Humane Society's facility with evidence of traumatic injury, according to officials.
"We're seeing linear scars. We're seeing several dogs who have old, unresolved fractures," said Sandra Newbury, the society's chief veterinarian. "We're seeing several dogs who are missing limbs."
Officials said that if the dogs were involved in fighting and given the violent training they might have endured, it's unlikely the pit bulls will be introduced back into society.
Because of this, Humane Society officials said that they hope their adoptable dogs can find a home as soon as possible to make room. Currently, officials said that there's barely enough room for all the dogs and it's going to be tight.
Sean McBride, the director of development and communication for the Humane Society, said that this is a critical time for the group.
"What we would hope is to send out a plea to everyone: If you're even considering adopting dog, now's the time to do it," he said.
Further complicating the problem is the fact that the pit bulls are evidence and the society must hold them for as long as the investigation takes place.
|Source: The Milwaukee Channel - June 14, 2006|
Update posted on Jun 15, 2006 - 9:19AM
|Forty-seven pit bulls are in protective custody at the Dane County Humane Society following the discovery of a suspected dog-fighting ring in the town of Dunn.|
Humane Society staff went to a home just west of Lake Waubesa after officials with the state Department of Justice contacted them Wednesday morning, said Humane Society spokesman Sean McBryde.
There, they found dogs with torn ears, cuts and bruises, a dog with part of its leg bitten off, a dog with a broken leg that had healed improperly and a dog blinded by eye injuries.
"The evidence is pretty overwhelming that there was dog fighting going on," McBryde said.
Law enforcement officers initially went to the residence for an unrelated search warrant, said Mike Bauer, legal services administrator for the Department of Justice.
Bauer said two people were arrested, but he would not confirm their names, give the location of the seizure or comment on possible charges.
McBryde said the investigation took place at 3554 Lake Farm Road. That is the address listed in Wisconsin court records for Robert Lowery, 57, a former Dane County sheriff's deputy who was sentenced to six months in jail on dog-fighting and drug charges in 1983.
The influx of dogs, most of which are traumatized and require special attention, is stretching the Humane Society beyond capacity, McBryde said.
The shelter is also housing five other dogs, 26 chickens, two parakeets and a macaw confiscated at the property, he said.
In order to make room for the new arrivals, the agency is desperate to get its other, adoptable animals into safe homes as quickly as possible, he said. Adoption fees - normally $110 for adult dogs and $150 for puppies - are being waived through June 22.
"If you were ever thinking about adopting a dog, now's the time," said Sandra Newbury, the agency's veterinarian. "It'll help us free up resources to be able to care for the dogs that just came in more effectively."
McBryde said the pit bulls, which are being kept separate from the other animals at the Humane Society, had to be transported to the facility in complete isolation, because if they saw each other they "went into attack mode."
When approached by humans, he said, they are extremely submissive.
"They're worried that you're going to pick them to come out of the cage because they'll have to fight," McBryde said.
Newbury said the Humane Society is assessing all of the dogs for emergency medical needs and collecting evidence for possible animal-cruelty charges against the owner.
McBryde said the courts will decide what ultimately happens to the dogs but expects some of them will have to be euthanized because of their aggression.
"It's really heart-wrenching to see. It's terrible that a human would do this to animals," McBryde said. "They didn't ask for this situation. They're good dogs. They've just been taught all the wrong things."
|Source: Wisconsin State Journal - June 15, 2006|
Update posted on Jun 14, 2006 - 11:49PM
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