Owner of skinny dogs found guilty of 39 counts
PALMER – Late Tuesday, Magistrate David Zwink found sled dog owner Doug Bartko guilty on 39 counts, most of them for failing to provide humane care for his recreational mushing kennel. Zwink also imposed fines for the offenses, which amount to $5,600.
In May, 25 skinny dogs were rescued by Borough Animal Care officers from Bartko's care. The remains of three dogs were also discovered tossed over an embankment on the Bartko property. While officers were investigating, Bartko removed 13 dogs to another property, avoiding evaluation by the officers. Nine of the 13 dogs were found on a property off Clark-Wolverine Road, all dogs were found dehydrated and thin. Several were tied to “gang lines” with leads that allowed only 12 to 15 inches for movement.
Assistant Borough Attorney Lisa Thomas prosecuted the case. “Animal Care Officers Mark Whisenhunt and Matthew Hardwig as well as assisting Officers Darla Tampke and Jim Wendlend, and the Borough’s Veterinarian, Dr. Katrina Zwolinski, have done an exemplary job with the dogs and with this case,” Thomas said. “We agree with the Magistrate’s rulings, and believe they were well supported by the evidence. It is regrettable that the Borough ever has to pursue a case of this kind.”
The single animal cruelty conviction pertains to a dog that was found dead on the Bartko property. The dog was extremely emaciated before it died. On the witness stand in District Court, it was Vet Zwolinski's opinion that the dog died from eating. The dog was in such poor condition that when it was fed, it died within a few hours.
The Borough revoked Bartko's kennel license and instituted a forfeiture regarding the 25 dogs. Bartko is appealing both cases in superior court.
For more information contact Asst. Borough Attorney Lisa Thomas at 745-9677.