The woman charged with nine counts of cruelty to animals for keeping dozens of underfed, ungroomed dogs in Sterling, has told the Kenai district attorney's office she is no longer pleading not guilty.
The trial of Carolyn Boughton, 58, which had been scheduled to begin in Kenai District Court on Tuesday, was postponed after Boughton said she was going to plead guilty to one consolidated animal cruelty count.
According to assistant district attorney June Stein, Boughton agreed to the arrangement with the stipulations that she would be placed on probation for five years, make restitution for the cost of caring for 66 dogs that were rescued, have no more than one dog in her possession or control in the future, and that jail time and fines would be at the discretion of the court.
The public defender representing Boughton was unavailable for comment on the plea arrangement. A change of plea hearing and sentencing have not yet been scheduled.
The animal cruelty charges stem from an Alaska State Trooper investigation looking into a complaint that Boughton was housing numerous dogs without food or water in a bus in Sterling.
When troopers went to the site on Spruce Road on Nov. 5, 2001, they reportedly found six dead dogs, including four Bouviers and two Kerry Blue terriers, one terrier that had to be euthanized because of its weak and listless condition and one that needed to have an eye removed due to severe infection.
In addition, 65 live dogs, many covered in frozen urine and feces, were found suffering from malnutrition and extreme dehydration.
According to court documents, Boughton told troopers she had been evicted from the property and had no place to take the dogs. She said she was pawning off personal belongings trying to feed the dogs but didn't have enough money.
She reportedly told troopers she moved off the property in mid-September and had been driving back and forth from North Kenai to feed the dogs twice a day. She also said she was having vehicle trouble and had arranged for people living on the Sterling property to feed the dogs.
Sixty-six dogs were rescued by the Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and all were placed in adoptive homes, according to Diane Zarfoss, clinic coordinator in Anchorage.
Zarfoss said Alaska SPCA is pleased with the plea arrangement and hopes Boughton will not be allowed to have more than one dog.
"Actually, it would be better if she never had any, ever," Zarfoss said.
"She's proven she's not a responsible pet owner. We would like to see her get the harshest punishment maybe jail," she said.
Zarfoss said it was her understanding that Boughton was cross-breeding Bouviers with Kerry Blue terriers in hopes of creating a miniature Bouvier.
"She was a member of the (American) Kennel Club," Zarfoss said. "We hope she'll be banned from the kennel club. That would be the end of her breeding in her name."
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