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Authorities say Laverne dog breeder was an animal hoarder

Donna Walker, 69, of Laverne, was charged Monday in Harper County District Court with one count of animal cruelty. Investigators say the 110 dogs taken from her property were living in their own feces and had inadequate food and water.
BY ANN KELLEY akelley@opubco.com Modified: June 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm •  Published: June 13, 2012
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— A dog breeder turned into an animal hoarder and kept 110 Australian shepherds in dirty, deplorable living conditions, authorities said.

Donna Walker, 69, of Laverne, was charged Monday in Harper County District Court with one count of animal cruelty. The dogs were rescued May 5 from her rural home, where many were confined to kennels lined with their own feces, inches thick, court records show.

Investigator William Brogden said he visited Walker's operation and bought two dogs for $160 as part of the investigation. Along with dirty kennels, the canines were living in dilapidated doghouses and a rundown, single-wide mobile home. He said their drinking water was filthy and they didn't have adequate food.

“This is a breeder that turned into a hoarder,” he said. “Unfortunately, there is a mental health aspect to that and sometimes it's hard to convince the person they are doing something wrong.”

Walker's operation had been a problem for years, but the sheriff's department didn't have the resources to handle it on its own, authorities said.

Capturing, moving and finding homes for the dogs was costly and tedious. Few had been socialized and all needed medical help. The Humane Society of the United States donated $5,000 to help with medical expenses, and other charities and rescue operations pitched in. It was a collaborative effort involving volunteers, local authorities and national animal rights groups.

Homes have been found for all the dogs, a spokeswoman for the national humane society said.

If convicted, Walker could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $5,000.