English Shepherds Seized in Montana

December 15, 2008 at 1:59 am 20 comments

KPAX Montana reports:

The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office is investigating a woman and her treatment of more than 30 animals at her home near Ballantine.

Deputies seized more than 30 sick, injured and dead animals this afternoon.

Linda Kapsa, the woman who owns the home and the animals says she raises Pugs and English Shepherds to sell as pets.  She says the animals are her private property, and should not have been taken. She tells us that she still has over 300 dogs on her property.

kapsa

This isn’t Ms. Kapsa’s first run-in with authorities.  According to the Billings Gazette:

The department and Kapsa have a history going back to 1993, when Kapsa was ticketed for cruelty to animals, Bell said. Officers removed 120 dogs from the property at that time, and 20 dogs were returned, he said.

“Since 1993, our animal-control division has had numerous contacts with Miss Kapsa,” Bell said. Kapsa has been ticketed for rabies violations, dogs at large and other misdemeanor animal violations, he said.

The latest case began in June when animal control officers got a complaint from a person who was interested in buying a dog from Kapsa. The buyer went to Kapsa’s property and was concerned over what was thought to be “horrendous living conditions,” Bell said.

The animal control division received more complaints from others and has been monitoring Kapsa’s property off and on, Bell said.

Earlier this week, the animal control officers observed animals that were “in dire need of veterinary care,” Bell said.

[…]

In December 2003, county officials conducted a forced cleanup at Kapsa’s property. County workers and a contractor seized cars, building materials and other property at her home. It was the first involuntary abatement ordered by commissioners after they enacted a community blight ordinance.

Kapsa sued the county the following year, alleging it violated her constitutional right to privacy and due process. Kapsa’s attorney, Liz Honaker, said county officials erred because code enforcement officers seized Kapsa’s property without a judge’s order confirming that officers have probable cause to enter the property and conduct a cleanup.

KPAX adds:

Kapsa says she settled a case with Yellowstone County for $35,000 after deputies seized property in 2004. Kapsa says this is similar situation.

Lt. Schieno says he still needs to gather more information, and the Yellowstone County Undersheriff will announce the findings Friday morning.

Kapsa sells puppies on the Internet for $650 apiece.

The Gazette adds:

In December 2003, county officials conducted a forced cleanup at Kapsa’s property. County workers and a contractor seized cars, building materials and other property at her home. It was the first involuntary abatement ordered by commissioners after they enacted a community blight ordinance.

Kapsa sued the county the following year, alleging it violated her constitutional right to privacy and due process. Kapsa’s attorney, Liz Honaker, said county officials erred because code enforcement officers seized Kapsa’s property without a judge’s order confirming that officers have probable cause to enter the property and conduct a cleanup.

The 200 or so dogs that weren’t seized remain in Kapsa’s care.  The sheriff’s department is proceeding with caution – as they should – to protect Ms. Kapsa’s rights and to prepare a strong case against her – if it is warranted. 

Interested in helping English Shepherds in need?  You can donate to National English Shepherd Rescue by sending a check to:

NESR C/O
Melinda King, Treasurer
10602 Brittney Lane S. E.
Olalla, WA 98359

Or by clicking here to donate via PayPal

You can find information on the City of Billings Animal Shelter and the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter – including how to send donations here:

City of Billings Animal Shelter                       Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter

As we’ve cautioned before — please do not send donations to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) because they do not operate shelters and because when they were involved in recent seizures of large numbers of dogs in Houston and Louisiana alarming numbers of all of the dogs seized were euthanized.

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Entry filed under: dogs, rescue. Tags: , , .

Hunting for Health? Unique as the Nose on Your Face

20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. YesBiscuit!  |  December 15, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    The dead dogs part concerns me. Presumably authorities did not dig these up from the yard which gives me an image of dogs dying and not being properly disposed of. If you keep hundreds of dogs, sure some are going to die at any given time but there still has to be appropriate disposal of remains, even when the ground is frozen. If you can’t manage that, you probably have too many dogs.
    If she is the only caretaker of these animals, that seems just about impossible to me. For all the feeding, exercising, vetting, grooming, training, and whelping duties involved with hundreds of dogs to fall on one person sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  • […] on this situation here (Raised by Wolves), here (Smartdogs) and here. You can make a donation at that last link. Just […]

  • 3. Jim Demoruelle  |  December 15, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Our Constitution calls for just compensation when property is taken by the government. Make all of the laws on abatement that you wish but it still requires compensation. Keep an eye on the “Animal Rights” folks who want to take the animals from Ms Kapsia as she is a line of free cash for the pound keeper. Remember after the pound rescues “takes” the animal they are then Adopted “sold” and the money received for the sale is kept by the Animal Welfare pound. The public, “you” end up having to settle the mess in court, a right we all have, but must be paid for by the tax payers. Perhaps a law needs to be passed that requires the Animal Shelters to bear the burden as they are the ones who get the cash in the end.

  • 4. Ken Chiacchia  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Actually, this woman’s property rights have been more than protected — in the past she’s been compensated tens of thousands of dollars over raids that were not judged inappropriate on animal welfare terms, but had suffered from messed-up paperwork. (It isn’t my purpose to question reversing convictions when authorities have failed to guard individual rights, BTW.) Clearly nobody in government has made a dime tangling with this woman, who has a good lawyer and uses him.

    The only dogs that have been collected at the moment are those who were dead or sick-to-dying. She still has a couple hundred others (on a space of 10 acres!), and all signs are it could be months, if ever, before they are confiscated. And the market value of a dying or dead English shepherd is, in fact, exactly zero (the replacement value of these farm collies is less than what probably would be required in vet bills to save them).

    Nor is this current raid about her property rights. Think about it: This is Billings, Montana. Property-rights Mecca. This raid never would have happened if it had only been a matter of dog welfare — it happened because the situation was starting to impact her neighbors’ property rights. I’m pretty sure the constitution doesn’t imply that a single person’s right to use his or her property extends to violating everybody else’s.

    I’ve seen some egregious violation of dog owner’s rights by over-zealous, misinformed, and even malicious animal control officers. But from what I’ve seen so far, this ain’t that.

    See http://www.petconnection.com/blog/ for more on this situation.

  • 5. ‘We’re from the HSUS, and we’re here to help’  |  December 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    […] on this situation here (Raised by Wolves), here (Smartdogs), here (Border Wars) and here (English Shepherd rescue). You can make a donation at that […]

  • 6. Christopher  |  December 15, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks for breaking the story. Linked.

  • 7. EmilyS  |  December 15, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    “Our Constitution calls for just compensation when property is taken by the government”

    Really?
    Tell that to Floyd Boudreaux or Patrick Patrick whose dogs were destroyed (as “contraband”) though they were found not guilty of crimes. Tell that to the seized dogs in Houston, similarly destroyed. Tell that to Ed Faron, after his dogs are (probably) destroyed.

    What planet are you living on?

  • 8. LabRat  |  December 16, 2008 at 4:15 am

    What planet are you living on?

    The one where rights that are supposed to be Constitutionally protected are violated on a ridiculously frequent basis by federal and local government deciding that surely freedoms aren’t inviolate when they allow bad stuff to happen.

    We can either take one side- property rights should be protected, which means that bad people can keep their dogs- or they shouldn’t, in which case busybodies can take ours.

  • 9. SmartDogs  |  December 16, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Oh piffle. Instead of taking a side I’m going to stand somewhere in the middle. Though leaning well to the right.

    We must absolutely protect property rights, but some mechanisms should be in place to protect living property from demonstrable abuse and neglect. I think we can do this without endangering the property rights of animal owners — though I must say that haven’t seen many cases where “we” have successfully done so in recent news accounts….

  • 10. SmartDogs  |  December 16, 2008 at 5:32 am

    Emily – Floyd Boudreaux’s dogs were euthanized by the Louisiana SPCA after a raid instigated by HSUS. The dogs in Houston were killed by Houston SPCA — after a raid instigated by HSUS. The raid on Mr. Faron also occurred after an investigation by… HSUS and I’m sure they’re lobbying to kill his dogs as I write this.

    As I’ve posted here before, I am utterly against illegal search and seizure. Taking all of a person’s dogs away and killing every one of them before he is even put on trial, much less convicted is wrong. And I do not for one minute believe that none of the dogs seized in the three raids referenced above was salvageable. Part of my goal in writing this is to make people aware of the Montana situaion in the hope that – together – we can prevent this from being another massive seizure and killing of innocent dogs.

    But… if Ms. Kapsa’s dogs are being kept in conditions that do not meet local, state or USDA regulations — conditions that demonstrably could be a significant detriment to their health — seizing them and putting them into proper care is warrented.

  • 11. LabRat  |  December 16, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Point enough taken- you are right.

    Call it the inner consistency demon- when taking a logical stand, I want it to not undermine the next one I take. My problem is with claiming that property rights are violated every day and that makes it okay to barge in and do as you like with what you like because somebody is “bad”, and then whipping around the next day and saying that someone is wrong for wanting to trample over them because what *I’m* doing is bad is a terrible position.

    I am well aware that acknowlegement that a man does not have the right to do whatever he likes to his dog or donkey came before, and bolstered, the acknowledgment that he doesn’t have the right to do the same to his child.

  • 12. Audie's Gramma  |  December 16, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Now, I am not one to practice the ad hominem argument.

    But I never saw a comment by Jim Demoruelle here, or anywhere, before here.

    And he doesn’t use a linkback.

    So I uses da Googles.

    And that name comes up in one context only: cockfighting.

    Oh, and telling people to keep on whaling.

    Mr. Demoruelle, if you are the same guy who turns up on da Googles, then your idea of “property rights” is cockfighting. And, apparently, keeping an uncontained pack of semi-feral starving dogs with no shelter. Is the latter, like the former, also your idea of fun? Well, your fun is illegal in all 50 states. It’s a felony in Montana.

    By all means, you should personally file an amicus brief in favor of Ms. Kapsa’s “property rights.” I want to read it.

  • 13. Jill  |  December 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Out where I live, keeping an uncontained pack of semi-feral starving dogs with no shelter, no training, no socialization and no veterinary care is called commercial breeding. Sometimes it’s even called ‘president of the local kennel club’.

    Married to a cop, where discussions of the violations of individual rights is a daily event. But until I see a LOT more dog people (breeders, trainers, owners, groomers) policing their own, I still need some serious persuading that the problem is ‘them’ and not us.

  • 14. EmilyS  |  December 16, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    SmartDogs, thanks; I obviously wasn’t clear.
    I was responding to the naive comment about the Constitution protecting property rights.

    It’s not so much the confiscation of any dogs when there is proof, or clear possibility that they are being abused that I have a problem with.

    It’s the DESTRUCTION of those dogs, whether they are “property” or “autonomous individuals” (I agree that there is a middle ground). And especially if they ARE victims of abuse (whether from a hoarder or a dogfighter)

    The English Shepherds are lucky they are not pit bulls.

  • 15. SmartDogs  |  December 16, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    We’re most certainly with you on that! And yes, these dogs are lucky that they’re not short-coated, muscular dogs of a certain type. Though if HSUS gets their paws on them I’m concerned they’ll meet a similar fate…

  • 16. Leanna  |  January 1, 2009 at 7:21 am

    This is a good warning to anyone wanting a “purebred” dog to investigate who and the facilities they are buying from. We can put these people out of business by informing or having warnings on internet sites of buyer beware and buyer disclose as someone regarding this case did. If the market wasn’t there a large part of this problem wouldn’t exist. Good breeders are as tough on the investigation of whom they are selling a puppy to or more so than foster children social workers. If they don’t ask tough questions and you don’t check references and see for yourself you are part of the problem. I wish the humane society would come from this approach rather than only push shelter animals. Shelter animals are wonderful but sometimes a certain breed can be a better family or lifelong match with breeder support on any issues that come up. What worries me about this case is how she was raided before. Perhaps the county or state needs standards on how to keep animals housed and cared for to be able to enforce humane care. Yes this is invasive but inspection or a basic set of laws would speed up closing down and reduce canine suffering and tragic death. A lot of money can be at stake with these breeders and she could probably afford to have a lawyer. But she sounds mentally ill and if she is not, she is a criminal. In either case she doesn’t deserve to have any animals and needs community action to prevent such occurances and treatment of her issues. The dogs that are dead were not so lucky.

    Leanna in CA livestock breeder and former humane society volunteer. Who has seen both sides and horrific mistreatment.
    Please do your homework when choosing a pet or companion.
    This is a lifelong decision, take your time, read, talk to people, visit your local shelter, breed rescues and be sure to know from whom and what you are getting into. All dogs or pets do not fit every home and each has a unique personality. Get help if you need it from those who have happy well behaved and socialized pets. Pick an activity to spend time with your pet such as agility or if your dog is suited visiting the elderly you will only respect your pet more and grow closer. My husband’s dog’s breeder should have been neutered for breeding dogs. The sweet dog lacks the ability to be in her own skin 5 feet from my husband. Training can only accomplish so much, she has joined me by marriage and it is sad to see the neurosis. My husband has done a lot with her but basic disposition is something you work with. I have a Great Pyr who, a breed that is really not for everyone because of their independent nature and got him because he couldn’t live under his previous owners expectations and situation. For me he is amazing, and breaks all the norms for obedience typical for the breed. He just needed a family, a job and a thank you for your job today and about 30 lbs of weight to get him to normal. His neurosis issues went away completely. Not by my efforts but by his.
    l

  • 17. Sammie  |  January 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Out where I live, keeping an uncontained pack of semi-feral starving dogs with no shelter, no training, no socialization and no veterinary care is called commercial breeding. Sometimes it’s even called ‘president of the local kennel club’.

    Married to a cop, where discussions of the violations of individual rights is a daily event. But until I see a LOT more dog people (breeders, trainers, owners, groomers) policing their own, I still need some serious persuading that the problem is ‘them’ and not us.

    (Just thought this was a GREAT post and needed repeating. Thank you to the original poster

  • 18. Perry  |  February 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    There is a link in the above story for donations to Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter. Liz Honaker is Linda Kapsa’s attorney in her civil matter involving the removal of the animals in December. Liz Honaker is also the President of YVAS. How convenient. As for property rights, I suggest folks search Linda Kapsa’s name, as there are numerous photos showing the living conditions at her place of “business”. Animal cruelty is a crime in Montana!

  • 19. SmartDogs  |  February 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    We are in no way supporting the actions of Ms. Kapsa. If you read this article carefully and read other posts on our blog you will see that we have gone into detail about the “house of horrors” that these poor dogs were kept in.

    As to the associations between Honaker, Kapsa and YVAS — we’d prefer not to comment for now. At this time we suggest you donate to National English Shepherd Rescue or to Operation New Beginnings c/o Last Chance Cat Sanctuary as the work they are doing directly supports the dogs at this time.

  • 20. A Pup-e-Mill  |  January 6, 2014 at 7:41 am

    […] Hat tip to Smartdogs. […]

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