77-year-old woman jailed after 83 dogs seized from her home

Associated Press

St. Clair Township – A 77-year-old woman accused of animal cruelty after authorities removed 83 small dogs and other animals in poor condition from her property in Michigan was sentenced Friday to 30 days in jail.

Irene Burns pleaded guilty Dec. 26 in St. Clair County District Court to misdemeanor animal abandonment and cruelty charges, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported.

When authorities raided her home in St. Clair Township in November, they discovered the dogs in wire cages. Most had matted fur. Some had infections and broken bones.

Irene Burns, 77, waits during a sentencing hearing Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in the 72nd District Court in Marine City, Mich.

“I am really sorry for my animals. I just got overwhelmed,” Burns said Friday in court. “I’m glad they’re all in good homes and doing well. I do not ever intend to have a kennel again. I can’t handle it.”

Authorities seized small poodles, Pomeranians, Yorkies and other dogs, as well as five cats and two parakeets.

Assistant Prosecutor Dennis Rickert said the kennel passed an inspection last April, but that conditions had deteriorated since then.

“I have pictures of matted dogs that I can’t tell if I’m looking at their face or their butt cheeks, that’s how bad it is,” Rickert said.

Judge Michael Hulewicz sentenced Burns to 365 days with 335 days suspended if she completes two years of probation. She also is prohibited from owning any animal.

“She didn’t realize she was slowly becoming a senior and less able to handle as many tasks as needed to be handled,” defense attorney Gerald Zamborowski said. “The fact is that she did care for these animals. She is an animal lover to an extreme degree.”

St. Clair Township is about 50 miles northeast of Detroit.