Black Wolf Rescue conviction
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:
Black Wolf Rescue founder Robert Clifton Artois, 56, of
Triangle, Virginia, was convicted on June 1, 2005 of neglecting
the 11 wolf hybrids and 18 other dogs who were removed from his
premises by animal control officers on April 18. Volunteer caretaker
Cheryl Grenier discovered and reported the conditions, including a
dead dog, after Artois was jailed in Alexandria on April 13 and
called from jail to ask her to feed and water the animals. Artois
had already been warned to improve his care regimen in October 2004,
and was charged with one count of neglect in November 2004. In
December 2004, Prince William General District Court Judge Peter W.
Steketee continued the original neglect case until June 2005, and
ordered animal control officers to inspect Black Wolf Rescue weekly.
Artois allegedly then refused to allow animal control personnel to
enter his property.
Founded circa 1992, Black Wolf Rescue raised funds through a
web site. Artois was convicted of felony larceny in 1983, and was
convicted of contributing to the delinquency of minors in 1997 and
2003, according to Maria Hegsted of the Potomac News. The 2003 case
involved a 15-year-old boy whom Artois met via the Internet. Artois
was in a sex offender treatment program, Hegsted indicated, and may
be facing fraud charges for falsely claiming on his web site that
Black Wolf Rescue has IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
BEARCAT Hollow conviction
U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery, of Minneapolis, on June
2, 2005 sentenced former BEARCAT Hollow wildlife park owner Nancy
Kraft, 63, to serve 15 months in prison followed by two years of
supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Kraft was
convicted by a jury on March 24, 2005 of seven felony counts of
falsifying documents and conspiracy, in connection with illegal
sales of $200,000 worth of animals reportedly including leopards,
lions, tigers, and grizzly bears.
The animals went to “other breeders, dealers, and even a
taxidermist,” wrote Shannon Prather of Pioneer Press.
Kraft’s husband, Kenneth Kraft, 67, pleaded guilty to similar
charges, as did two other defendants. The case originally involved
55 counts filed against nine individuals, but Montgomery dismissed
25 counts before the trial began, and acquitted defendants Marcus
Cook, of Texas, and Craig Perry, of Montana.
Opened in 2000, housing up to 300 animals at a time,
BEARCAT Hollow claimed to be a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary, but
charged an admission fee of $10, operating more like a roadside zoo.
The Krafts and BEARCAT Hollow came under investigation after a
400-pound Siberian tiger in July 2001 injured visitor Emily Hartman,
7, of Rochester, Minnesota. “The 2001 attack was just the start of
troubles at BEARCAT Hollow,” wrote Pioneer Press reporter Prather.
“In December 2001, a 10-month-old bear escaped and damaged a
neighbor’s porch. In 2003, paperwork showed that a man who was
mauled by a tiger he raised in his New York apartment had obtained
the cat from the Krafts. BEARCAT Hollow at peak kept about 300
animals on 25 acres. It reportedly closed in 2004. In May 2005 the
Krafts reportedly obtained permits to relocate about 30 animals,
including lions, tigers, and bears, to a private wildlife
sanctuary in Spearfish, South Dakota.
Patty’s Angels conviction
Patricia Aline Abezis, 51, founder of the Patty’s Angels
no-kill sanctuary in the Town of Rochester, New York [not to be
confused with the city of Rochester] was on April 29, 2005 convicted
of 38 misdemeanor counts of neglect, at her third jury trial since
the charges were filed following a November 2002 raid by Ulter
County sheriff’s deputies.
The raid found 92 dogs, 24 cats, and numerous rabbits and
hens without food or water, amid conditions of filth, investigators
tstified. Thirty animals were turned over to the Ulster County SPCA,
but Abezis kept more than 100 others. Her assistant, Tracey Ann
Pennington, 47, was convicted of six counts of neglect. Charges
against caretaker Michael Sickler were dropped. The two previous
trials ended as mistrials, once because of a change in the defense
council, and once due to loss on jurors.