From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1993:

Undercover probe nabs Wisconsin dog dealer; local judge lets him go
Circuit judge Donald Poppy, of
Calumet County, Wisconsin, on June 14
dismissed a felony cruelty charge against
USDA-licensed Class B animal dealer
Ervin Stebane, 72, for tying, shooting,
and disemboweling a dog he sold as meat.
Poppy claimed Wisconsin law allows peo-
ple to kill their own dogs in a humane man-
ner, called the slaughter humane, and
added, “If the legislature intended for peo-
ple not to kill dogs as food, the legislature
should pass such a law.”
A hearing on a motion to dismiss
a related misdemeanor charge––intention-
ally maintaining a place for shooting ani-
mals who are tied––was set for July 12, as
was a second motion demanding that 145
dogs seized from Stebane on May 26 be
returned to him.
The dogs were distributed among
18 humane shelters around Wisconsin.
More than 70 people examined photos of the
dogs at the Calumet County Sheriff’s office,
hoping to find pets they believed were
stolen, but none were successful.
The May 25 raid came about as
result of a controversial undercover action
by Last Chance for Animals. Explained
LCA president Chris DeRose, “For 30
years, the USDA, Wisconsin Department
of Agriculture, and the local sheriff’s
department have been investigating Stebane
for allegations of cruelty to animals, selling
stolen pets to research facilities, violations
of the Animal Welfare Act, and butchering
dogs for meat. None of this led to any seri-
ous charges against Stebane, and he contin-
ued to operate one of the largest death
camps for dogs in the midwest.
“In response to numerous calls for
help,” DeRose continued, “I spent almost a
year repeatedly attempting to use a hidden
camera to document the killing of animals at
his complex,” the Circle S Ranch in the
town of Brillion. “However, the area in
which he murdered dogs was out of view
from my surveillance points. When USDA
inspections in February, March, and April
1993 failed to bring any charges against
Stebane, I made a painful decision. In
order to obtain the indisputable evidence
necessary to put Stebane out of business, a
couple was hired and equipped with a sur-
veillance camera. Their lives were in great
risk as they turned over $50 to Stebane for a
dog. In file footage which has now been
seen internationally,” aired by CNN on
May 25, the day before Stebane’s arrest,
“Stebane, without care, without hesitation,
shot the dog, slit his throat, and gutted
him, complaining that his knife was dull.”
Stebane sells about 1,000 dogs a
year for vivisection, 600 of them to the
University of Wisconsin at Madison,
which bought 487 during the 10 months
preceding the arrest. UWM Research
Animal Resource Director Christine Parks
confirmed that the facility had a “blanket
order” for dogs from Stebane, adding, “Of
course we don’t know what went on behind
the scenes.”
Stebane was fined $1,500 in 1987
for failing to meet Animal Welfare Act
housing, sanitation, drainage, and food
storage standards at another kennel in
Kaukauna, near Brillion. According to the
USDA report on the case, “Other viola-
tions occurred when he failed to furnish
inventory records and conducted himself in
such a way that a USDA official declined
inspection of his premises.” An administra-
tive law judge lifted Stebane’s Class B
license for 20 days. The USDA unsuccess-
fully appealed, seeking stiffer penalties.
Other Dog Crimes
Called after shots were fired in a
June 11 domestic dispute between Kirk
Youlten, 30, and Dawn Lynch of Leroy
Township, Ohio, Lake County sheriff’s
deputies and dog warden Nancy Talamantez
found themselves unexpectedly seizing 19
pit bull terriers, none of them licensed and
insured as required by state law. The dis-
pute that led to the shooting apparently
began with an argument over who would
get custody of one of the pit bulls when and
if Youlten and Lynch complete a divorce.
Drug traffickers are suspected of
poisoning a U.S. Border Patrol dog named
Duc in his kennel circa June 1. A Belgian
malanois, Duc found $64 million worth of
cocaine during his four years on duty.
An attorney from distant
Portland was assigned to represent alleged
animal collector Vikki Rene Kittles of
Brownsmead, Oregon, on May 26, after
three other public defenders resigned, say-
ing she was too difficult to work with. “If
this one doesn’t work, this is the last one,”
state director of indigent defense service
Ann Christian promised. Kittles, alias
Susan Mary Dietrich, was charged April 16
with 22 counts of first-degree animal
neglect after authorities found her sharing
an old school bus she called an animal shel-
ter with 115 dogs, four cats, and two
chickens. New attorney Laurie Bender’s
first job was to fight a motion to euthanize
19 dogs whom three local veterinarians dis-
covered to have severe heartworm.
Jose Canales, 54, of Wilming-
ton, Delaware, was to be sentenced July 9
for fatally raping a stolen 11-year-old
husky/German shepherd mix named Sheba
with a broom handle last November.
Because of public outrage, a single misde-
meanor charge against Canales was upgrad-
ed to two counts of animal cruelty, one of
theft, and one count of felony criminal mis-
chief. Canales pleaded guilty to the cruelty
and criminal mischief charges on May 11.
Crimes Against Horses
Farmer Marlene Anderson has
sued the Wayne County (Ohio) Humane
Society and WCHS director Connie Imhoff
for $400,000, alleging 71 horses and ponies
plus 31 cows and calves were improperly
seized from her 55-acre property in June
1991. Convicted of allowing the animals to
starve and become diseased, Anderson in
August 1991 drew 30 days in jail, a $250
fine, and three years on probation.
The Humane Society of Missouri
won custody of a 15-year-old mare and reim-
bursement of $2,263 in boarding expenses in
the recent conviction of St. Louis resident
Randy Carter for abandonment. Carter also
drew five days in jail with a year suspended,
and a suspended fine of $250.
Lawrence Lombardo, 50, of
New York City, was sentenced in Miami,
Florida, on June 1 to serve four and a half
years in prison. Lombardo pleaded guilty in
April to 21 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud,
and loansharking in connection with poison-
ing of a racehorse to collect a $400,000
insurance policy.
The California Court of Appeal
for the First Appellate District ruled June
1 that the constitutional right of anti-rodeo
protesters to freedom of speech and assem-
bly was not violated in 1991 when they were
barred from protesting directly in front of
the Cow Palace auditorium in Daly City.
The ruling upheld a lower court verdict.
The Pennsyvlania Superior
Court in Philadelphia ruled June 23 that
pet owners cannot sue for emotional distress
in connection with injuries to their animals
because under state law, all animals are
considered property. The case evolved from
a long-running dispute between veterinarian
Jordan Miller and pet owners Gus and
Florence Peraino, who claim, supported by
two of Miller’s ex-employees, that Miller
beat their dog to death during tooth extrac-
tion surgery on July 16, 1990. Miller
counters that the dog was sick, overweight,
and died of unknown causes. The Perainos
filed their civil suit after Miller was cleared
of cruelty charges in March 1992.
Crimes Against Humans
Elephant handler Thomas D.
Huskey, of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, was
charged June 2 with murdering four prosti-
tutes whose remains were found near the
Knoxville Zoo last October. Huskey, a for-
mer Knoxville Zoo employee, was known
as “Zoo Man” to local hookers because of
he liked to take them to the zoo to have sex.
He also faces 25 counts of rape, robbery,
and kidnapping in connection with assaults
on six woman who survived his attacks.
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