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Wheatland Dog Breeder Charged with Animal Neglect - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Wheatland Dog Breeder Charged with Animal Neglect

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UPDATED August 23

A Wheatland, North Dakota breeder has been charged with six counts of animal neglect more than a month after Cass County deputies seized 170 dogs from his property.

Darcy Smith is charged with depriving an animal of necessary food and water, which under state law at the time was a Class Misdemeanor.

Smith's dogs were taken from his home July 10. Officials found dogs packed into kennels, in unhealthy living conditions.

He waived his rights to the animals, and they have since been medically cleared and adopted out to area families.  Smith will appear in court on September 10.

UPDATED: July 30 2:30 p.m.

A Cass County man accused of running a puppy mill did not make an appearance in court Tuesday as expected.

This was not surprising to Cass County Assistant State's Attorney Leah Viste. She says her office had been in contact with Darcy Smith about his intentions for the dogs.

Monday Smith signed a document giving up his right to own the 170 dogs and their offspring permanently. He also gave up his right to a hearing by signing the document.

The judge awarded custody of all the dogs to the Cass County Sheriff's Department. They will now be available for adoption as soon as the Sheriff's Department lines everything up with the non-profit organizations. Right now nearly all are in foster homes across the Upper Midwest.

Sheriff Paul Laney says, "While there's a lot of emotion that gets brought into play especially when you're talking about animals, there's a lot of people saying how come this thing can't happen overnight? There is still a process that has to be done."

While there is no timeline on when the dogs will be available, Sheriff Laney says they will work quickly now that his office has full custody.

4 Luv of Dog Rescue will be coordinating the adoption efforts. The State's Attorney's Office adds that the local organizations, the Humane Society, Adopt A Pet and PAAWS, will also be involved in the adoption efforts.

Viste says she is still not sure on whether charges will be filed against Smith. Medical records and other information is still being gathered.

Smith will be allowed to have more dogs in the future. Laney explains, "This is America. He has the right to, I think, to do and try again. But at the same time there's a, he's got to make sure that he's like every other citizen and takes care of those animals." He adds that Smith will be watched closely, and if there are any other complaints he will be looked into again.

As of Tuesday morning, there were about 10 dogs still pregnant. Two have given birth so far. The State's Attorney's Office says there could be as many as 50 total new dogs added to the ones they originally took.

So far the total costs for the boarding and care of the dogs and their puppies have surpassed $30,000. Smith could be ordered to pay those costs.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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A Cass County man accused of running a puppy mill is going to court today in an effort to get his dogs back.

Deputies took more than 170 dogs from Darcy Smith's Wheatland home earlier this month. Officers say the dogs were living in filthy conditions.

The judge has 10 days to decide whether or not to return the dogs the Smith. If custody is granted to the county, the animals would then be available for adoption.

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