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Kennel application prompted animal cruelty investigation

            A woman arrested last week on animal cruelty charges had applied for a new kennel license, which prompted state officials to inspect her facility. What they found led to seizure of 10 dogs and nine counts of animal cruelty for Katie Sixtos-Villalva.

            Sixtos-Villalva had held kennel licenses before, "and we have had problems with her in the past," said Arty Schronce, director of public affairs for the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

            When she applied for a license again recently, officials from the state department of agriculture's Animal Protection Division arrived at her home for an inspection prior to issuing the license, he said.

            But when they found several dogs in poor health, some so ill they were later euthanized, the officials contacted Bulloch Humane Enforcement Officer Joey Sanders, 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 no food other than table scraps, and those that did have water either could not reach the container to drink or were provided unclean water, he said.

            Three dogs - a dachshund Chihuahua mix, and two terrier mixed breeds - were so sick they were euthanized. One "was anemic and full of worms," another was anemic and aggressive, and the third was "anemic and had a heart condition, was weak," he said.

            The other dogs - including a Pomeranian and a Yorkshire terrier - were taken to a veterinarian. The Statesboro-Bulloch County Humane Society took the Yorkie and the Pomeranian and a schnauzer, three dachshund puppies and an English bulldog puppy were placed as well, 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, where they found the bulldog pup, he said.

            A Shetland pony found tied in the sun was moved to the shade and given water by the state officials, who contacted the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Equine Division, Schronce said. The equine inspector began an investigation and as of Monday, "the owner has given the pony away," he said.

            Equine Division officials are expected to follow up and ensure the pony is in a safe environment, he said.

            Efforts to locate Sixtos-Villalva for comment were unsuccessful. Sanders said the contact numbers he had for her were not working numbers.

            After her arrest Thursday Sixtos-Villalva was taken to the Bulloch County Jail, where she later posted bond, according to jail records.

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