This past March, Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics,
helped secure an animal cruelty conviction by testifying in the trial of Kathy Bauck,
operator of Pick of the Litter Kennels. The New York Mills, MN, breeder sells animals
to pet stores and online-and has at times housed more than 1,300 dogs of at least 32
different breeds. Bauck was arrested in August 2008 and charged with several counts of
felony animal cruelty, torture and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
On March 24, after a 4½-day trial and six hours of deliberation, a jury cleared Bauck
of felony charges but found her guilty of four misdemeanors (one count of animal cruelty
and three counts of torture).
In early 2008, a freelance animal cruelty investigator, Jason Smith, began working at
Pick of the Litter to gather evidence against Bauck. Smith submitted testimony and videos
of alleged abuse to Otter Tail County sheriff’s detectives last May. The videos included
footage of injured, ill and emaciated dogs, as well as of Bauck dunking dogs in vats of
insecticide. “The veterinarian working with the prosecution contacted me about one month
before the trial started,” recalls Dr. Merck. “I was asked by the prosecutor to review
all the video and case files and provide expert opinion.”
With a history of complaints and citations against her-including a 2006 cease-and-desist
order from the Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine for performing surgery on animals
without a veterinary license-Bauck is well known to ASPCA investigators. “Kathy Bauck
has been a chronic problem,” states Bob Baker, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Initiatives Investigator.
“I visited her facility in 1998 and reported her to the USDA for violations of the Animal
Welfare Act-but as far as I know, there was no follow-up on the part of USDA.
”At her sentencing hearing last Friday, May 1, Bauck was sentenced to 90 days in jail,
with 20 days to be served right away. The other 70 days were “stayed,” meaning they
will be served only if she violates her probation. The judge also sentenced Bauck to
80 hours of community service and ruled that if she plans to continue participating in
operating the kennel, she must allow unscheduled inspections-and that inspectors must be
allowed entry into ALL areas.