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Troopers find four dead dogs on Sterling property

Posted: Wednesday, November 07, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two dead dogs were discovered inside an old tourist bus a Sterling woman was using as a kennel and two other dead dogs were found frozen to the ground outside, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.

Carolyn Boughton, 56, has until Friday to provide adequate food and shelter for between 45 and 60 dogs she keeps on property she rents on the Kenai Peninsula. If conditions aren't met, troopers say they will confiscate the animals.

Three troopers, armed with a search warrant and accompanied by a veterinarian and members of the Kenai Peninsula Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, went to the Spruce Road property Monday to investigate.

''The dogs had been on the bus a long time,'' said 1st Sgt. Charles Tressler of the Soldotna barrack.

Veterinarian Jerry Nybakken, who accompanied the troopers, said they found about 30 dogs inside the bus. The bus had one small vent window and reeked of urine and feces, he said. The dogs were housed in two tiers of homemade plywood dog boxes.

Nybakken said the dogs' bedding was badly soiled.

''The dogs were matted in fecal matter,'' he said.

Boughton, who was breeding the dogs, kept Kerry Blue Terriers on the top tier and larger Bouvier des Flandres on the bottom. The two dead dogs were found in the dog boxes on the top.

The terriers died when their legs slipped through cracks in the plywood and became wedged in place. Their legs had been partially eaten by the dogs in the lower boxes, he said. Nybakken said the larger Bouviers, originally bred to herd cattle, may have tried to pull the smaller dogs into their boxes.

Both of the dead dogs found outside were Bouviers. One of them died in the last day or two when its legs became entangled in its tie-out chain, Tessler said. ''He was hogtied, fell down and died in the cold weather,'' he said.

The other dog appeared to have died about a week ago. The cause of death was not readily apparent. Two dead cats also were found.

Nybakken said four dogs required immediate veterinary care.

Boughton kept some of the dogs on short chains tied to trees on the property. The dogs did not have dog houses, Tressler said.

While it appeared that Boughton had been providing the animals with some food and water, all the dogs were skinny, he said.

Troopers first visited the property on Thursday and again on Saturday. They decided to get a search warrant after getting a good look at one of the dogs that had pulled its cage into the road.

''That dog looked pretty thin,'' Tressler said.

Troopers couldn't get into the bus because it was locked.

Boughton has until Friday to provide the dogs with adequate shelters, sufficient food and water and longer chains, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

''If not we are going to move ahead,'' he said.

Troopers are considering forwarding the case to the District Attorney's office for cruelty to animal charges punishable by a $5,000 fine and one year in jail.

This is not the first time troopers have investigated Boughton. In September 2000, they visited a Sterling junk yard where she was keeping 72 dogs tethered to cars and trees. That time authorities found that the dogs were being well-fed and the surroundings were relatively clean.

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