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Pine River kennel owner charged with animal neglect

By Justin Glawe / Bemidji Pioneer

PINE RIVER -- A dead mouse, floating in a bowl from which dogs at a Pine River facility drank, is one of the more grotesque details of conditions at kennel owned by Deborah Beatrice Rowell.

The discovery was made by investigators with the Cass County Sheriff's Office during their July 16 raid of Rowell's home, at 1175 County Road 1E. Rowell, 60, has since been charged in a nine-count criminal complaint that includes various animal abuse and neglect crimes. The most serious charge listed in the complaint -- animal neglect -- carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail a $1,000 fine or both.

In an outbuilding behind Rowell's home, police found 29 puppies and their mothers stifled by temperatures nearing 100 degrees that day. An investigator turned on an exhaust fan to ventilate the building, according to the complaint.

In all, police seized 133 dogs from Rowell's residence.

When asked about the conditions, including the heat in which the dogs were kept, recorded between 91 and 97 degrees, Rowell told police "'the girls' must not have opened the door."

Some of the dog houses did not have elevated floors, according to the complaint, and "held water and waste." Each dog house measured about 4 feet by 4 feet, police said, and contained three to four "large breed dogs."

Water bowls throughout the area contained "green-colored water," and one had a dead mouse floating on the surface, police said.

The lack of waste outside of the dog houses, an investigator noted, suggested the dogs were not let out for exercise.

Rowell is next schedule to appear in court Aug. 19.

If Rowell received the maximum penalty for the nine counts she faces, she would have to serve one year and 175 days in jail, and pay fines amounting to $7,600.

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