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Puppy mill owner gets probation, banned from having dogs

FARGO – A Cass County judge has ordered a former Wheatland puppy mill owner to two years of supervised probation, during which he cannot have dogs nor work with them, in exchange for his guilty plea to animal neglect.

Defense attorney Gordon Dexheimer said Darcy Darrell Smith, 51, the former owner of about 170 dogs seized last July by sheriff’s deputies after finding them matted, living in their own filth, and stuffed sometimes five to a kennel, “actually loves animals very much.”

Some of the animals confiscated by deputies had not been groomed in so long, they were immobilized by their own matted fur, authorities said.

Dexheimer said that Smith, during a recent cold, wet spring, many of his dogs had gotten sick and could not be sold to area pet dealers.

“It simply got out of hand … it began to snowball on him with the animals,” Dexheimer said.

Smith entered an Alford plea last month to a single A misdemeanor count of animal neglect, saying that he agreed the facts of the case might lead a jury to convict him, but that he did not agree with all of the charges in the case.

The remaining five counts of animal neglect were dropped as part of his plea deal.

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