Following are notes taken by Jean Yokley at the Preliminary trial of Michael Garritson regarding charges of cruelty to animals and animal neglect.
Garritson Preliminary Hearing
December 2, 2002
Judge David Ryan presiding
Dep. District Attorney, Kate Flaherty
Karen MacRacken, Dept. of Animal Control
Garritson’s Attorney, Jimmy Dicks
Karen MacRacken was the first one on the stand. Dicks questioned her training and ask questions about details of the arrest.
Karen said the investigation was over a three-month period. They got records from the AKC, showing 12 litters registered in the prior year. The number of pups was estimated at 48 but the number was low because not all the dogs were registered after sale.
Animal Control did a helicopter fly over on the day before the seizure and saw multiple dogs in the yard. She said the weather was good and it had been dry, no rain for some time.
On May 21, 2002, when Animal Control went to the home of Michael Garritson they found over 150 dogs. There were 14 puppies among them. She said the smell of urine and feces were so strong it burned her eyes and made them water.
One area they entered she described as a kitchen type area, they found crates with feces on them as well as feces on the counters. Two puppies were in one crate, no bedding and empty bowl. She said they were to young to eat on their own and should have been nursing their mother. They were all wet with urine.
The next crate had four black and tan Spaniels, again young pups that should have been with their mother. No bedding, food or water. Feces inside and outside the crate.
The next crate had three pups in the same condition but they had bedding of a soiled towel and newspapers.
The fourth crate had one pup with urine soaked bedding, it was a tan and white pup that was unresponsive she had to check it to see if it was alive. She handed the pup to Dave Johnson the Director of Medical Services for the Dept. of Animal Control. The pup had messy coat, head was large, some type of eye injury and discharge from the eye and nose. The skin was scalded from urine on the underside. The pup was immediately sent to a Vet and had to be euthanized
They then went into a yard area that had five bitches that were in whelp or lactating. The feces on the ground were covered with mold. There was a water dish with one inch of green water. There was no shelter except a small closet type area that was covered with rodent feces.
The next and largest area had 38 dogs in the enclosure and was cleaner than the others. There were eight pups in that group. There was one crate, with a dirty blanket for shelter. Many were huddled in the crate. One Cavalier pup was sitting on a type of pallet. They did not have bowls of water. The code says that dogs must have water at all times in bowls that are secured to keep them from spilling over.
There was a metal shed; the floor was covered with feces. There was a pile of feces that had been raked and left. There were 30 dogs in that area and no bedding. There were two Yorkies that were solid mats.
They found a black and tan bitch that was unable to walk; she could not use her rear legs and would cry as she tried to move as she dragged her rear legs. She said you could feel all her bones. The Vet put her down after he determined there was nothing that could be done for her.
Another area held 40 dogs. They had no water. The officer said she couldn't walk without stepping on fresh or old feces. There were pallets covered with feces, hair and urine. And there was a pool of urine covering the area.
In another metal shed covered with feces there was a Tri dog, non-ambulatory, tongue protruding from his mouth, he had urine burns, was bony, and couldn't stand. The dog was flopping around. The vet after examination had to put the dog down.
In one area they did see a bowl of food and there were 12-14 dogs in that enclosure. In another enclosure there were 5 dogs, one was not ambulatory and would circle around, a Vet also put him down after examination.
She said over 100 dogs had discharge from their eyes and/or abrasions. She stated they were not the typical drainage some Spaniels get but were purulent. Vets and Ophthalmologists treated them.
In another area, were four bitches with their pups. There was no water. Bowls were turned over and there was feces and trash around.
Vets treated each dog and work was done to get their weights up to normal to get them to adoption status. A total of nine were put down and the others were adopted out.
cross by Jimmy Dicks
He asked what happened to the
dogs, he said the public really wanted them didn't they? He wanted to know what
medical problems they had. He then asks about her descriptions of the amount of
feces in the enclosures. He wanted to know how often the kennels were cleaned at
Animal Control. He said the dogs could have tracked it all over. He said when
they defecate they can get feces on their coats and the long coat can get wet
when they urinate. He said he has seen people that cant put their dogs down and
keep them alive. He said Garritson didn't have the heart to put the dogs down
after spending nights nursing them. He said if the kennel areas were cleaned
twice a day wouldn't that have been enough and Karen said, yes, if there was
evidence of them being cleaned. She also said it was wrong to house healthy dogs
with non-healthy dogs. She felt the worst aspect was the fact some were unable
to move and couldn't even get to food and water and no basic cleanliness.
Then Michael Garritson took the stand
Garritson said he has been a
Registered Nurse for 20 years. He said about half the dogs were English Toys and
there were 30 Cavaliers. When asked how he learned of the breed he said from
reading about it. Then he was asked how he got his dogs. He said there was no
good stock in the United States so he bought from England. He wanted the best so
he bought from the best. He said from Amantra and Marsward because their gene
pool was tremendous. He said he had more knowledge of English Toys than anyone
in the United States. He was taught from the judge, Tom Conway.
After the lunch break he talked about buying his current home in 1999. He said the agent that sold him the house told him he could have six dogs per acre. He then said his Mother was also a Real-estate agent. He started out with the dogs in a three-car garage with separate areas for the dogs and bitches. He spends $500.00 a month for food and $500.00 a month for Vet bills. He said when he has a bitch in whelp, at about day 50, he gives her meat and hi protein things to bulk her up. Then he gives the pups evaporated milk till they are four months old. He said his sons cleaned the kennels twice a day and gave them food and water. He said he did not have time to clean the kennels the morning before Animal Control came. He said he puts the feces in five-gallon containers and that he had a drainage problem with the rain. Then they clean with a power washer. The reason the young pups were in the kitchen was because his sons had just taken them inside. He said the pups born with Hydrocephalus he can get them through it about 50% of the time; he gives them Sub-Q injections of Ringers Lactate and steroids. He uses a special syringe to feed the dogs that couldn't eat or drink.
He said the kids clean daily. He built the wooden pallets to keep the dogs and pups off the concrete at night. When ask about grooming he said they had bad water and grooming problems with the Yorkies. He knew there were a few mats on them and since he is a Yorkie Fancier they had good coats he was a stickler on coats.
When ask about the dogs with difficulty walking. He said he had a Tri with his tongue out, the first I ever had with a rye mouth and they are predisposed to other problems. One litter he had was born normal but developed problems at 2 months with hydrocephalus. It had an unusual gait, eye ulceration and was very aggressive. He said, “I find it cruel not to let a dog live, we let inferior humans live,”
When he was asked about the fact that over 100 of the dogs had eye problems he said that was over rated. There was 1 Yorkie and 12 English Toys that had scar tissue and he was treating them with medication.
He said he loved the breed since he was a young boy and he would never let dogs go without food and water. They were checked four times a day or more.
The District attorney asks about animal neglect charges from December 1999. He said it was from an electrician that had done work in his house. He saw the crates in the house and threatened to call the dog pound if he didn't pay his bill.
When asked by the D.A. about the Internet web site for his kennel, he said his son started that without his knowledge. He said he had sold one English Toy and 3-4 Cavaliers to cull their kennel, maybe, four Yorkies. When ask about the prices he had charged he said he sold the English Toy at cost, $500.00.
The DA said what happened when the Dept. of Animal Control came to his home on March 26, 2002? He said he told them he did not have pups on the property just a Lab named Bo. He answered; he played dumb and was evasive. I didn't want to get involved with Animal Control; I heard they were nasty people.
He said he did the best he could and they had not been able to jet spray for a couple of days because of the rain.
When asked about the urine scalding on the dogs he said they took my dogs and I didn't have time to see them. They were groomed, according to him, once or twice a month.
When the DA ask about him having a kennel. He repeatedly said he did not have a kennel. The DA said even though you sold dogs you were not a kennel? He said, I did not make money I loved the breed. He repeated, I did not operate a kennel. When ask, why trust kids to clean, he said they did a good job. When he made checks of the dogs at 9am rarely did they not have water. He could count on one hand how many times they didn’t.
The problem was only a fluke, because of the rain the day before. When ask by the DA, were your dogs well cared for? He said, if you look at our champions, if we had any problems we would rectify. The drains were poor and some of the Yorkies did have some mats. When ask if he had too many animals to take care of? He said we did a good job, you just donut see it the way we do. He said three litters were whelped at Animal Control after the seizure and they lost all the pups, that shows what care they gave them at Animal Control. He said the officers that took his dogs did not ask for any history on the dogs, they told him to shut his mouth.
Closing comments by Jimmy Dicks
Dicks ask the Judge to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence or reduce to
misdemeanors, not felony charges. This man loved the dogs with no hope of making
money. He put blood, sweat and tears into them. Things may have gotten out of
hand. The dogs looked happy. The dogs the Animal Control took died, he did a
good job of keeping them alive. So reduce the charges to misdemeanors.
Closing comments by District Attorney.
The care of over 150 dogs was entrusted to kids. Look at the pictures. A business, where animals are the product. He spent money to acquire the dogs but none or a bare minimum spent on their care. Their coats covered with feces, eye problems, saturated in their own waste. He was a collector or hoarder. Breeding aspect was not just backyard breeding. Neglect was on a grand scale that warrants felony charges.
The Judge said the hearing had to
show a strong suspicion that a crime was committed. Charges of animal suffering
or abuse or fails to provide food, water and shelter. The scope of neglect is to
great to treat as misdemeanors, to gross for me. Then the Judge said, “your
heart is in the right place but your head is not.” “These animal deserve
more”. Michael Garritson will be tried for 10 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor