Owner of Alleged Puppy Mill Charged with Animal Cruelty

Rainer Rescue Nov. 2013
Three of the dogs seized from the Rainier property.

The final group of animals forfeited to OHS after their seizure in Columbia County have been adopted and/or placed with other humane organizations dedicated to finding them the best possible homes.

The owner of the seized pets, a Rainier resident, faces multiple felony charges of animal cruelty. OHS removed more than 100 dogs and 21 horses from the property after finding inadequate shelter, lack of water and unsanitary conditions.

A Columbia County judge ordered the final group of 54 seized dogs, mostly Akitas, be forfeited to OHS in August of 2014. The judge’s order came nine months after these and other animals animals were rescued under a search warrant served by OHS and Columbia County last November. Many of the other animals seized in November were relinquished or forfeited to OHS at an earlier date. A handful of dogs remain in OHS custody pending the outcome of the case.

The seizure was one of the largest dog rescues in Oregon history. The woman was charged  by Columbia County authorities on a Jan. 31, 2014 with 48 counts of animal neglect relating to dogs and horses at her property on Karr Road south of Rainier.

“We undertook the Rainier rescue to put an end to the suffering these animals faced,” said Sharon Harmon, OHS Executive Director. “We’re heartened to hear that Columbia County is pressing forward with a criminal case and that Oregon’s new animal protection law elevates the charges to the felony level.”

New Oregon Animal Legislation in Action

The Rainier case is one of the first times a person has been charged under Oregon’s recently passed Omnibus Animal Protection Act, which elevates penalties from misdemeanors to felonies for cruelty offenses involving 11 or more animals. OHS was one of the major advocates for the new law.

In the Rainier case, animal owner Catherine Setere faces felony charges involving 48 individual animals. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a fine of $125,000. Under the previous law, first degree animal neglect was punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,250 fine. Persons convicted of animal neglect are also barred from owning domestic animals and horses for five years. At yesterday’s arraignment in Columbia County, Setere pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The rescued dogs were brought to an emergency animal shelter created and operated by OHS in response to the seizure. The dogs rescued include 67 Akitas and many smaller breeds such as dachshunds and terriers.

News Coverage of the November Rescue

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