Colorado

Dec 30, 2009 9:46 AM by Jeannette Hynes

Sled dog owner has history of animal neglect

The man accused of animal cruelty involving nearly 100 dogs in Park County has a history of animal abuse, according to court records.

Samuel and Diane Walker face two felony and 30 misdemeanor animal cruelty charges, after Park County Sheriff's officials took several husky sled dogs and husky mixes from their property near Hartsel more than a week ago.  The arrest affidavit says some of the dogs were dead, and several others malnourished and in need of medical care.

The Walkers own the Pawsatrack Racing Sled Dog Kennels in Hartsel.

Court records show Samuel Walker has been cited at least 23 times for various violations, mostly in Teller County.  Of those, he has been convicted of nine charges, ranging from animal cruelty to unlicensed animals to barking dogs.

The arrest affidavit also mentions several welfare checks by Park County animal control officers to the Walker property since 2004.  In one incident, Samuel Walker had reported a dog missing.  That dog was found walking on the highway, skinny and with paws bleeding. The dog's collar had to be cut off because it was too tight.  A veterinarian exam found the dog to be emaciated (thin from disease or hunger), dehydrated, and suffering from neglect.

Walker has a breeder's license through the Colorado Department of Agriculture.  Christi Lightcap, spokesperson for the department, says Walker has had a history of compliance.  Lightcap tells News First 5, the department inspected the sled dog kennel in February 2009 and found no problems. 

The Department of Agriculture has gone back to Walker's establishment this month.

"Absolutely appauling," says Lightcap about the condition of the kennels and of the dogs now.

The department will likely put the breeder's license up for review once the criminals charges have gone through the court system, depending on the outcome of those charges.

The Walkers have bought 434 dog licenses since 2004 from the Park County Sheriff's Office. 

The Walkers turned themselves into authorities Christmas Day.  They have each posted a $2,000 bond.

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