The owner and an employee of a Weymouth dog kennel are facing animal cruelty charges after officials say a Siberian husky died from overheating and dehydration due to being kept overnight in a crate that was four times too small.
K-9 Daycare owner Katherine Smith, 40, of Hanover, and employee Dale Wilson, 51, of Taunton, were arraigned Friday in Quincy District Court on one count each of animal cruelty, following the death of Luna, a 4-year-old Siberian husky, in a crate on May 29.
Judge Mary White released both women without bail on the condition that they have no animals that do not belong to them at their homes. They are due back in court on Sept. 6.
Tom Cavanagh, an attorney for Smith, and Larry Kelly, an attorney for Wilson, declined to comment on the case.
Weymouth Police Animal Control Officer Michael Parker suspended K-9 Daycareâ€™s license on June 4 after receiving the initial necropsy report from veterinarian Martha Smith-Blackmore, the founder and president of Forensic Veterinary Investigations LLC. Earlier this month, Weymouth officials unanimously voted to uphold a suspension of the kennelâ€™s license until the criminal case is resolved.
Parker said K-9 staff kept Luna in a crate that was far too small for 12 hours, that the dog couldnâ€™t turn around, stand up, sit up or straighten her legs and was stuck in a fetal position with no water.
Smith-Blackmore determined that this caused extreme heat exposure and ultimately hyperthermia and respiratory failure.
During the necropsy, Smith-Blackmore found that Luna measured 41 inches long from her snout to the base of her tail, while the crate measured just 26.5 inches in length, which would force her to sleep in an unnatural fetal position and prevent her from panting.
Luna measured 22 inches tall at the shoulders, yet the entrance into the crate measured 20 inches in height, meaning the dog would have to duck her head and crouch to get into the crate. Smith-Blackmore said in the necropsy report.The inside of the crate measured 21.5 inches in height.
The crate is intended for transporting dogs, not for boarding them. Parker said the crate was 72 percent too small for Luna based on International Air Transport Association standards.
â€śThese conditions prevented (Luna) from being able to appropriately thermoregulate and caused her to develop respiratory difficulty followed by respiratory failure, loss of consciousness and then death,â€ť Parker wrote in his report.
Lunaâ€™s owner, Julia Nguyen, and the veterinarian reported that the dog received regular wellness checks and did not have any preexisting medical conditions, Parker said.
The findings prompted Weymouth police to file a criminal complaint against Smith, the owner, and Wilson, who put Luna in the crate and was the last person to see her alive.
During the license suspension hearing, Smith and her attorney, George Boerger, said Smith-Blackmore, the veterinarian, measured Luna incorrectly, and that the dog was able to walk in, sit up and lie down in the crate. She pointed to photographs from Smith-Blackmoreâ€™s necropsy of Luna and said the dog measured closer to 21 inches tall at the shoulders, rather than 22 inches. Smith said Luna was actually closer to 36 inches long, rather than 41 inches.
Smith said at the hearing that Luna suffered from separation anxiety and showed aggression toward other dogs, so keeping her in a smaller crate helped.
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