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Dog breeders accused of starving German shepherds won’t get them back

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A southeast Minnesota couple accused of starving and torturing the dogs they bred won’t get them back after authorities seized 15 German shepherds in February.

Fillmore County District Judge Jeremy Clinefelter on Monday ruled against returning the dogs to Donald Anderson and Elham Alayyoub of LeRoy.

Clinefelter ruled sheriff’s deputies and agents from the Animal Humane Society out of Golden Valley were justified in taking the dogs after discovering the canines appeared underfed and were living in filthy conditions.

“What’s alarming is the seeming disconnect between their love and care for these animals, and what was clearly happening,” Clinefelter said.

Anderson and Alayyoub face nine charges of misdemeanor mistreatment of animals ranging from animal cruelty to torturing and depriving them of food and shelter. Veterinarians at the Animal Humane Society found malnutrition in all 15 surviving dogs.

The dogs — nine adults and six puppies — have slowly gained back weight after they were taken to the Humane Society according to court records. All of them suffered from varying degrees of malnutrition. Some were emaciated, others had abscesses. At least one of the dogs was diagnosed with intestinal parasites.

Court records show Anderson and Alayyoub in early February contacted the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, concerned someone was poisoning their dogs. A dog had unexpectedly died on the property; another dog had died under similar circumstances in November.

Anderson and Alayyoub took the dog’s body to University of Minnesota veterinarians. Court records show a U vet found the German shepherd was severely underweight and dehydrated when it died. The dog’s cause of death was due to heart issues and a twisted stomach, according to complaints.

Court documents state a deputy visited Anderson and Alayyoub on Feb. 13 to share the news. The deputy saw an underweight dog and visited the kennels, which he described as filthy. A local vet who visited the farm later that day found another underweight German shepherd.

Several people testified in hearings last month the kennels and dogs were covered in feces and urine when deputies and humane society agents inspected the farm and took the German shepherds on Feb. 22.

Courtroom pictures of several kennels showed floors mostly covered with filth as well as soggy cardboard bedding, which an Animal Humane Society agent previously said was potentially hazardous to dogs.

Steven J. Hovey, the breeders’ attorney, previously pointed out the dogs had actually weighed less in previous veterinary appointments compared to when they were seized in February. He argued on Monday Anderson and Alayyoub took sufficient care of the dogs, at one point showing video of a puppy eating food at the breeders’ farm.

Clinefelter disagreed, pointing out two dogs had died before the Andersons sought help from law enforcement.

Anderson and Alayyoub’s first criminal hearing is scheduled for May 16.

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