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Kennel owner arrested for animal cruelty

    A licensed kennel owner faces nine counts of animal cruelty after state and local officials seized 10 dogs from her home.
    Bulloch County Sheriff's deputies arrested Katherine Sixtos-Villalva, 32, Ga. 67, Thursday after officials from the Georgia Department of Agriculture Animal Protection Division and Bulloch County Humane Enforcement officers found the dogs in various states of poor health and starvation, said Bulloch County Humane Enforcement Officer Joey Sanders.
    The state officials, performing a routine check of licensed kennels, discovered the dogs in distress and notified Sanders, he said.
    A Shetland pony was also found tied in the sun, but was not seized. The Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Division is investigating, and Friday the pony had been moved to a shady spot, but was still tied to a child's motorized toy, he said.
    Five dogs found in one pen - a Pomeranian, a Yorkie and other small breeds - were "suffering from numerous medical problems," Sanders said. "They had skin conditions, were emaciated, and covered in fleas."
    The dogs had water, but it was filthy, and the only food provided was table scraps, "macaroni," he said.
    In a whelping pen, three pot-bellied dachshund pups, "full of worms, with skin conditions,"  had water, but were unable to reach the water because the container was too tall, he said. The pups also suffered from coccidia, "microscopic parasites ... that cause a watery diarrhea which is sometimes bloody and can even be a life-threatening problem to an especially young or small pet," according to Internet web site
    The pups also had only table scraps for food.
    A schnauzer in another pen appeared to be in better health, and had food and water, he said. "I don't think she had it very long." That dog, also covered in fleas, was seized but Sixtos-Villalva was not charged with animal cruelty in that case, Sanders said.
    He, along with Bulloch County Humane Enforcement Officer Jonathan Patterson and state officials Tammy Cowart and Bill McCranie, spent "three of four hours" at Sixtos-Villalva's residence, unable to contact her, he said. Then she arrived home and allowed them inside.
    There, Sanders found a bulldog puppy in a child's enclosure, with " feces on the floor and no water," he said.
    Sixtos-Villalva refused to allow Sanders and the state officials to seize the bulldogs puppy without a warrant, he said. Warrants were obtained, and Bulloch County Sheriff deputies placed her under arrest, then Sanders took possession of the bulldog puppy, he said.
    The dogs were all immediately taken for veterinary care, and all "had a lot of worms" in addition to other health issues, he said.
    Calls to the Department of Agriculture Friday seeking comment from Cowart and McCranie were not immediately returned.
    Sanders said the case would be heard in state court before Judge Gary Mikell. A court date has not yet been set.


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