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Bemidji women removed from homes with 107 dogs

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A woman who had 107 dogs and two cats in homes on her rural Bemidji property is undergoing a mandatory health screening, and a county prosecutor said Friday that he is reviewing health ordinances for possible criminal violations.

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Carol Schmidt, who is being held for 72 hours at a local residential facility, said she feels betrayed after the animals were taken, some of them forcibly, from two mobile homes.

The dogs were taken from Schmidt and Janice Brown, who lives in a separate mobile home on Schmidt's property, on Thursday after Beltrami County sheriff's deputies were called for a welfare check Monday.

Brown also was removed from her home and placed in a group home. She is receiving welfare assistance from the state's Department of Human Services.

On Wednesday, Schmidt said she signed an agreement with the Animal Humane Society to surrender nearly 50 of her animals to the Golden Valley, Minn.-based shelter, which estimated 54 dogs and some cats were living inside two mobile homes on the property.

The following day, authorities with Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and Beltrami County Environmental Services department came to Schmidt's property with a search warrant to investigate the property and remove the remaining roughly 60 animals not surrendered.

Wade Hanson, who led the Animal Humane Society recovery team, said it took him and his team of five workers Wednesday evening and Thursday to remove the animals from Schmidt's property. The animals were transported in a mobile veterinary clinic vehicle and two cargo vans.

Removing the more than 100 dogs from the property was "certainly the largest amount" Hanson said he had seen in some time.

The majority of dogs were being cared for by Schmidt, Wade said. Eight dogs and two cats were living with Brown.

The Animal Humane Society was originally notified of the matter after local authorities conducted a welfare check earlier this week at Schmidt's home, where they estimated 54 dogs and some cats were living inside two mobile homes on the property.

Sheriff Phil Hodapp said Friday that authorities attained a search warrant in order to investigate a possible violation of the county's public health ordinance.

While there are no laws in Grant Valley Township prohibiting how many pets can live at one residence, Hanson said the nearly 50 dogs Schmidt originally surrendered were removed because of unsanitary conditions.

Remnants of feces and urine from the dogs in the home and the level of acidity in the air were a cause for concern because of upper respiratory problems and bacterial infections that can be caused by exposure to it, Hanson said.

On Friday, Randall Burg, assistant county attorney, said he is reviewing the case while the county's public health ordinance is enforced, meaning Schmidt could face criminal prosecution if she is found to have violated the ordinance. Also, Burg said, the health and welfare of Schmidt and Brown are being evaluated.

The county's health ordinance defines a public health hazard as being:

E The accumulation of decayed animal matter, animal or human feces, trash, rubbish, garbage, scrap metal or any other substance in which flies, mosquitoes or other vermin can harbor (not including compost bins).

E Any structure which has become dangerous because of sanitary defects.

E Accumulations of animal feces, rubbish or junk remaining in any place so as to become dangerous to the health and safety of any individual or to the public in general.

E A hazardous building, which because of inadequate maintenance, physical damage or unsanitary conditions, constitutes a fire hazard or a hazard to public safety or health.

In the coming weeks, Burg said the county attorney's office will be receiving reports from a number of different agencies.

The county's environmental services department, he said, will likely be working with prosecutors in proceeding with the abatement of the conditions existing on the property.

The county's human services department may request help to involve the court on the terms of any mental or physical health needs of Schmidt that need to be addressed, he said.

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and the Animal Humane Society will be referring reports to the attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution on the conditions discovered at the property, Burg said.

"There may be issues regarding the financial responsibility of the costs of both the care of the animals and for any cleanup costs associated with the residence," he said.

The cleanup costs are "very contingent," he added.

The attorney's office could be taking action as early as next week, Burg said.

Meanwhile, Brown is not being confined or detained while she is away from her home, Burg said.

Carol Schmidt said Friday she feels betrayed by authorities and angry she has been removed from her home.

Schmidt said she willfully helped the Animal Humane Society gather the nearly 50 dogs on Thursday she agreed to surrender. She said she was told she and Brown would be taken to a clinic in Bemidji for a check-up and returned home before the dogs were taken away.

"They wouldn't let me change my clothes or nothing," she said. "They took us to the hospital and held us there. Then they separated us. They took all the dogs away and condemned our houses. Now I can't go home."

Schmidt said she did not know she had so many dogs. However, she said, she feels certain she was told if she cleaned her house and surrendered the majority of dogs, she could keep some of the animals.

"I was going to cut some carpet and take it out, scrub the whole floor with disinfectant, put new boarding on the floor, put linoleum down from my dad's trailer that my mom never got to use and wash the walls," she said. "I was told we were going to the hospital and would come back before they took our dogs. But they lied."

Hodapp would not comment on Schmidt's claims.

Bill Patnaude, director of Beltrami County's Environmental Services department, also would not comment on the matter.

Schmidt said she is worried about not being able to get back the dogs she said the agreement allows her to keep.

"I want my Tiny, Baby, Sasha, Sadie and my Fancy back," she said.

A woman who had 107 dogs and two cats in homes on her rural Bemidji property is undergoing a mandatory health screening, and a county prosecutor said Friday that he is reviewing health ordinances for possible criminal violations.

Carol Schmidt, who is being held for 72 hours at a local residential facility, said she feels betrayed after the animals were taken, some of them forcibly, from two mobile homes.

The dogs were taken from Schmidt and Janice Brown, who lives in a separate mobile home on Schmidt's property, on Thursday after Beltrami County sheriff's deputies were called for a welfare check Monday.

Brown also was removed from her home and placed in a group home. She is receiving welfare assistance from the state's Department of Human Services.

On Wednesday, Schmidt said she signed an agreement with the Animal Humane Society to surrender nearly 50 of her animals to the Golden Valley, Minn.-based shelter, which estimated 54 dogs and some cats were living inside two mobile homes on the property.

The following day, authorities with Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and Beltrami County Environmental Services department came to Schmidt's property with a search warrant to investigate the property and remove the remaining roughly 60 animals not surrendered.

Wade Hanson, who led the Animal Humane Society recovery team, said it took him and his team of five workers Wednesday evening and Thursday to remove the animals from Schmidt's property. The animals were transported in a mobile veterinary clinic vehicle and two cargo vans.

Removing the more than 100 dogs from the property was "certainly the largest amount" Hanson said he had seen in some time.

The majority of dogs were being cared for by Schmidt, Wade said. Eight dogs and two cats were living with Brown.

The Animal Humane Society was originally notified of the matter after local authorities conducted a welfare check earlier this week at Schmidt's home, where they estimated 54 dogs and some cats were living inside two mobile homes on the property.

Sheriff Phil Hodapp said Friday that authorities attained a search warrant in order to investigate a possible violation of the county's public health ordinance.

While there are no laws in Grant Valley Township prohibiting how many pets can live at one residence, Hanson said the nearly 50 dogs Schmidt originally surrendered were removed because of unsanitary conditions.

Remnants of feces and urine from the dogs in the home and the level of acidity in the air were a cause for concern because of upper respiratory problems and bacterial infections that can be caused by exposure to it, Hanson said.

On Friday, Randall Burg, assistant county attorney, said he is reviewing the case while the county's public health ordinance is enforced, meaning Schmidt could face criminal prosecution if she is found to have violated the ordinance. Also, Burg said, the health and welfare of Schmidt and Brown are being evaluated.

The county's health ordinance defines a public health hazard as being:

- The accumulation of decayed animal matter, animal or human feces, trash, rubbish, garbage, scrap metal or any other substance in which flies, mosquitoes or other vermin can harbor (not including compost bins).

- Any structure which has become dangerous because of sanitary defects.

- Accumulations of animal feces, rubbish or junk remaining in any place so as to become dangerous to the health and safety of any individual or to the public in general.

- A hazardous building, which because of inadequate maintenance, physical damage or unsanitary conditions, constitutes a fire hazard or a hazard to public safety or health.

In the coming weeks, Burg said the county attorney's office will be receiving reports from a number of different agencies.

The county's environmental services department, he said, will likely be working with prosecutors in proceeding with the abatement of the conditions existing on the property.

The county's human services department may request help to involve the court on the terms of any mental or physical health needs of Schmidt that need to be addressed, he said.

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and the Animal Humane Society will be referring reports to the attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution on the conditions discovered at the property, Burg said.

"There may be issues regarding the financial responsibility of the costs of both the care of the animals and for any cleanup costs associated with the residence," he said.

The cleanup costs are "very contingent," he added.

The attorney's office could be taking action as early as next week, Burg said.

Meanwhile, Brown is not being confined or detained while she is away from her home, Burg said.

Carol Schmidt said Friday she feels betrayed by authorities and angry she has been removed from her home.

Schmidt said she willfully helped the Animal Humane Society gather the nearly 50 dogs on Thursday she agreed to surrender. She said she was told she and Brown would be taken to a clinic in Bemidji for a check-up and returned home before the dogs were taken away.

"They wouldn't let me change my clothes or nothing," she said. "They took us to the hospital and held us there. Then they separated us. They took all the dogs away and condemned our houses. Now I can't go home."

Schmidt said she did not know she had so many dogs. However, she said, she feels certain she was told if she cleaned her house and surrendered the majority of dogs, she could keep some of the animals.

"I was going to cut some carpet and take it out, scrub the whole floor with disinfectant, put new boarding on the floor, put linoleum down from my dad's trailer that my mom never got to use and wash the walls," she said. "I was told we were going to the hospital and would come back before they took our dogs. But they lied."

Hodapp would not comment on Schmidt's claims.

Bill Patnaude, director of Beltrami County's Environmental Services department, also would not comment on the matter.

Schmidt said she is worried about not being able to get back the dogs she said the agreement allows her to keep.

"I want my Tiny, Baby, Sasha, Sadie and my Fancy back," she said.

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