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  issue > bauck > trial


KEY MESSAGE: Based on the CAPS complaint, formal charges of animal cruelty were made against Kathy Bauck. A trial was held, and the jury convicted Bauck of four counts. The judge reduced the sentencing to one count of animal torture.

NOTE: During the undercover investigation, which resulted in this trial, Kathy Bauck was on probation for another charge. For part of the time, she was sleeping in the jail at night and returning to the kennel during the day. No probation violation was cited.



Photo from CAPS undercover investigation; video used within trial.


DEFENDANT: Kathy Jo Bauck

CASE: State of Minnesota v. Kathy Jo Bauck

CASE NUMBER: #56-CR-08-2271

COURT: Otter Tail County District Court, Criminal Division, Seventh Judicial District



In May 2008, a complaint was filed with the Otter Tail County Sheriff Department by Jason Smith from the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) against Kathy Jo Bauck, owner of a large-scale dog breeding facility in Pine Lake Township (Otter Tail County) Minnesota. The complaint (with video) indicated "possible cruelty to animals and dogs receiving medications by Kathy Bauck who does not have a veterinarian license." Jason Smith posed as an employee at Pick Of The Litter (aka Puppies On Wheels) in an undercover investigation initiated by CAPS.

• View initial complaint: Investigation Report

• View: Follow-Up Investigation Report

• View: Statement of Probable Cause/Finding of Probable Cause

This Statement spells out the specific dogs hurt, and other factors, which defined the charges.

• To view video/evidence gathered by CAPS: CAPS Undercover Investigation



In April and May of 2008, Kathy Jo Bauck, owner of Pick Of The Litter, was charged with:

• four felony counts (animal cruelty) — MN 343.21.7

• one gross misdemeanor count (torture) — MN 343.21.1

• one misdemeanor count (cruelty)MN 343.21.7

• three misdemeanors (torture) — MN 343.21.1

• two gross misdemeanors counts (practicing veterinary medicine without a license) — MN 156.10

The above listing is based on the: Register of Actions

Also view: Court File of Counts (This is a record listing only 9 counts. There was confusion over the number of counts and when they were filed. For clarification, contact the Otter Tail County Attorney.) 

NOTE: "Torture" versus "cruelty" is defined based on the subdivision cited:

• 343.21 Subd. 1 is torture, per the MN statute:

Subdivision 1. Torture. No person shall overdrive, overload, torture, cruelly beat, neglect, or unjustificaly injure, maim, mutiliate, or kill any animal, or cruelly work any animal when it is unfit for labor, whether it belongs to that person or to another person.

• 343.21 Subd. 7 is cruelty, per the MN statute:

Subdivision 7. Cruelty. No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal or animals, or any act tending to produce cruelty to animals.



Bauck's hearing was held in Otter Tail County. Following the hearing, the prosecutor and Bauck's attorney were given 10 days to submit final written arguments. The judge reviewed the information. The original trial date was rescheduled.



The judge did not suppress the undercover video footage gathered by CAPS showing the inhumane treatment of animal and breeding conditions. This video was shown at trial. The jury trial, originally set for February 10, 2009 was rescheduled to March 17, 2009.



Jury selection started March 17, 2009. The trial for Kathy Jo Bauck started Tuesday, March 18, 2009, in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and ended on March 24, 2009.

• Judge: Honorable Judge Waldemar Senyk

• County: Otter Tail County, Minnesota

• Assistant County Attorney: Heather Brandborg

• Kathy Bauck's Attorney: Zenas Baer

Tuesday, March 17, 2009: Jury selection

Wednesday, March 18, 2009: Day 1 of trial

Jury selection finished. Bauck's attorney Zenas Baer gave his opening statement. Jason Smith, A Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) investigator who worked undercover at Pick Of The Litter for six weeks, was the first witness. Prosecutor Heather Brandborg showed the jury the undercover video of Pick Of The Litter breeding kennel collected by Mr. Smith.

Thursday, March 19, 2009: Day 2 of trial

Jason Smith, CAPS investigator who worked undercover at Pick Of The Litter, continued as a witness, questioned by Bauck's attorney Mr. Baer. Smith's testimony ended this day; he asked to be released and the judge agreed. The second witness to speak was Dr. Linda Wolf, a Minnesota veterinarian and expert in dog care and animal health. Those present said the testimony of both Smith and Wolf was compelling; the jury appeared to respond strongly to the information presented.

View: Veterinary Evaluation of Evidence by Dr. Linda Wolf, DVM

Friday, March 20, 2009: Day 3 of trial

Dr. Linda Wolf, a Twin-Cities-based veterinarian and expert witness for the prosecution, was questioned by the defense. Dr. Melinda Merck, forensic veterinarian for the ASPCA and expert in animal cruelty cases, was the next witness and testified for the prosecution. The last witness presented by the prosecution was Detective Keith von Dyke, who conducted the original investigation based on the CAPS complaint. Attorney Baer called Kathy Jo Bauck to the stand, where she testified that she loved the dogs, researched pedigrees, and was careful in her breeding, such as breeding only females once a year (not verified). Bauck was not able to explain the difference between in-breeding and line-breeding. The prosecution did not yet question Bauck this day. Baer asked the judge for an acquittal for lack of evidence on counts 1, 2, 3 and 4; the judge denied his request.

Monday, March 23, 2009: Day 4 of trial

Multiple witnesses this day. Kathy Jo Bauck took the stand once again in the morning. Bauck's attorney, Zenas Baer, interrupted Kathy's Bauck testimony and called Allen Erickson (DVM) to the witness stand. (Erickson lives in the same town as Baer. The prosecutor questioned if he had been paid for his testimony.) Bauck returned to the stand and, in her testimony, blamed Jason Smith (CAPS undercover investigator, who posed as employee) for any problems at the kennel (as seen on the video) and suggested that he "staged everything." Next witnesses included: Earl Fleck, medical investigator for the Minnesota Attorney General's Office; Bridget King, DVM; Shona Selender, Vet Tech; Matthew Jensen, dispatcher from the Sheriff's office; Maria Chandler, one of Bauck's employees; and Allan Bauck, Kathy Jo Bauck's husband. Judge Senyk indicated he wanted to wrap up the trial the next day, Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009: Day 5 of trial

This was the last day of the trial. Dennis Lange, DVM, was the first witness for the defense. Lange was Bauck's veterinarian (for the four years prior; fee for each kennel visit was $500.) This witness gave general information; it was apparent there was conflicting dates and data. Example: Lange testified Bauck had 700+ dogs and 100 puppies. Bauck testified she had 413 dogs. The second witness was Richard Teal, DVM, who was Bauck's back-up veterinarian. Teal was formerly a slaughterhouse veterinarian. As with Lange, his data conflicted with Bauck's testimony. He testified Bauck had 1,000 dogs. The last witness of the day was Jeff Rimpala, a coach-teacher in New York Mills (kennel is located near this city) who works part-time for Bauck. Kathy Jo Bauck returned to the witness stand to give further testimony, at which time she cried. Final summaries were given by both the prosecution and the defense. Bauck's attorney Baer tried to influence the jury by suggesting that Jason Smith staged the bad conditions specifically for the video and also emphasized that Smith (hired by CAPS) were "people from out of the State coming in to Minnesota" to disrupt Bauck's facility and tell Minnesotans what to do. The prosecutor objected to Bauck's attorney's summation and questionable facts. Others in the courtroom, who live in the area and had attended the trial each day, were disappointed by the level of "misinformation and untruths" presented by Baer, which, they felt, would influence the jury's impressions. The jury then went into deliberation. (Jury pool is from Otter Tail County. Trial was held in Fergus Falls, which is about 50 minutes from New York Mills, where Bauck's kennel is located.) As of 6pm Tuesday evening no verdict had been made.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009: Verdict announced

Late Tuesday evening the jury delivered its verdict. The jury found Bauck not guilty of two felony counts of animal abuse. They found her guilty of four lesser misdemeanors. 

NOTE: During this time, the city of New York Mills (close to where Bauck's kennel is located) held the "Great American Think-Off," debating questions of substance. The question for that year was: Is It Ever Wrong To Do The Right Thing?

NOTE: Thanks to Ingrid Sonnenberg who attended the trial and submitted updates.



On March 24, 2009, a jury found Kathy Jo Bauck guilty on four misdemeanor counts:

• Count 5 (Overwork/Mistreat Animals - Torture)

• Count 6 (Overwork/Mistreat Animals - Torture)

• Count 3 (Torture - Overwork/Mistreat Animals)

• Count 4 (Cruelty to Animals - Overwork/Mistreat Animals)

The jury acquitted (not guilty) Bauck of two felony counts:

• Count 1 (Cruelty to Animals - Overwork/Mistreat Animals-Cruelty)

• Count 2 (Cruelty to Animals - Overwork/Mistreat Animals-Cruelty)

See: Register of Actions

On April 24, 2009, a sentencing hearing was held. Questions were raised and language was debated. Sentencing was re-scheduled for May 1, 2009. Two motions had been filed earlier: 1) for a new trial and 2) for continuance. Judge Senyk denied the motion for a new trial.

NOTE: A misdemeanor is up to 90 days in jail for each count and/or up to a fine of $1,000 per each count. However, under MN Stat. 609.15, the court can specify if a sentence shall run concurrently or consecutively. Per 609.15, "if the court specifies the sentence shall run consecutively and all of the sentences are for misdemeanors, the total of the sentences shall not exceed one year."



On Friday, May 1, 2009, the Judge sentenced Kathy Bauck on one count of animal torture (Count 5). This was a single criminal misdemeanor count of torturing a Mastiff (dog) between the dates of May 14 and May 24, 2008.

Bauck was sentenced to 90 days in jail for this count with 70 days stayed, with credit for 5 days already served. This means Bauck served 15 days in custody.

Judge Senyk also sentenced Bauck to:

• $1,000 fine; however, $500 was stayed so total fine was $500

• perform 80 hours of community work in her own community

• be placed on supervised probation for one year, concurrent with her prior probation. (Concurrent means "at the same time." Bauck's prior probation was due to practicing veterinary medicine without a license and was unsupervised for two years, which ended May 19, 2010. Bauck's supervised probation for cruelty charges ended May 1, 2010.)

• as long as Bauck is working with animals, she was to allow the Minnesota Humane Society or other agency (as recommended by the probation officer) to inspect the kennel without notice (as they determine necessary) and to allow inspection of the entire property — entry to all areas.

• not to have same or similar violations for one year.

• View: Sentencing Order

Following the sentence, there was a bit of confusion. Some people believed the court had ordered a humane society to inspect the facility. At the time of the verdict, Judge Senyk ordered that the USDA and the appropriate humane society be notified of the verdict. The State made the request to the court that inspections be allowed. It was agreed that the Minnesota Humane Society (there are multiple humane societies in Minnesota) conduct the inspections during the probation period. 

NOTE: The court also had the ability to place further conditions and restrictions on the sentence. One condition could have been to seize the animals and/or to require that Bauck own no more animals for a certain period of time; however, these conditions were not made so Kathy Bauck was allowed to continue breeding, buying and selling dogs. The Minnesota statute for animal seizure is within Minn. Stat. 343. 21 subd. 10:

"If a person is convicted of violating this section, the court shall require that pet or companion animals that have not been seized by a peace officer or agent and are in the custody or control of the person must be turned over to a peace officer or other appropriate officer or agent unless the court determines that the person is able and fit to provide adequately for an animal. If the evidence indicates lack of proper and reasonable care of an animal, the burden is on the person to affirmatively demonstate by clear and convincing evidence that the person is able and fit to have custody of and provide adequately for an animal. The court may limited the person's further possession or custody of pet or companion animals, and may impose other conditions the court considers appropriate, including, but not limited to:

(1) imposing a probation period during which the person may not have ownership, cusody, or control of a pet or companion animal;

(2) requiring periodic visits of the person by an animal control officer or agent appoited pursuant to section 343.01, subdivision 1;

(3) requiring performance by the person of community service; and

(4) requiring the person to receive psychological, behavioral, or other counseling."



Following the verdict, Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) released a statement about why the jury found Bauck not guilty on the two felony charges. Read: Why Wasn't There A Conviction?

In Minnesota, the "felony" level for the animal anti-cruelty statutes applies only to companion animals, not livestock.

It appears that the jury was classifying the adult breeding dogs as "livestock," rather than pets or companion animals — therefore, if defined as livestock, felony charges would not be applicable. (Adult breeding dogs are kept in cages for 6, 8, or even 10 years and bred repeatedly; some breeders argue that these animals are "breeding stock," so have limited protections under the law. Those who have rescued adult female and male dogs have witnessed multiple psychological and physical problems with these animals.)


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