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Three dogs die in vehicle

Three dogs who had been dead for 24-48 hours were pulled from a man’s vehicle in the 3500 block of West Second Street on Oct. 1. He has been charged with one count of first-degree animal neglect regarding all three animals.

“It was pretty horrible,” said The Dalles Animal Control Officer Lisa Stuck. “The smell was horrendous.”

Kenneth Ray Smith, 35, was arraigned Monday and public defender Randy Perkins was appointed to represent him. He has an entry of plea hearing Oct. 26.

“The allegation is he did not provide proper care to animals and that, in effect, ended in their death,” said City Attorney Gene Parker. “The allegations are pretty serious.”

Parker has been with the city since 1990 and he said he doesn’t recall a similar case in that time, “certainly not like this, when three animals died.”

The maximum penalty for the Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine up to $6,250.

Stuck didn’t talk to Smith at the scene, but said, “You could tell he was distraught.”

Sue Steele reported the situation to police about 6 p.m. that Sunday. She blames herself for not calling sooner.

Steele, who is retired, said Smith lived with his mother in a camp trailer on Steele’s property.

“I have a feeling they were in there for a long time, I mean dead, because early in the morning I was by the car and I didn’t hear a thing, and normally they’d be making noise,” she said.

“This has taught me a lesson,” she said. “I don’t care what people think of me anymore. I’m gonna make that phone call. I would’ve saved those dogs’ lives.”

She called police Sunday evening after Smith’s mother came to her door and told her, “‘Sue, all of Kenny’s dogs are dead.’ And I just started screaming. I’d been worried about it so much, every day, all day.”

Steele said the dogs, two pitbulls and a terrier, lived in cages in the back of Smith’s Ford Expedition.

Mugsy was the terrier’s name and one of the pits was named Dakota. She couldn’t remember the name of the other one.

“I kept saying stuff to him every day because I was just worried to death” about the dogs, Steele said.

Stuck said the animals were bloated after death, but, “I don’t think they were unhealthy, they were pretty good weight dogs, they weren’t emaciated.”

Steele said, “He kept saying how much he loved his dogs, and I didn’t see it.”

She said there were two cages for the three dogs. “They could hardly move.”

She said she offered to put the dogs in her fenced yard. “He told the police officer I would not let him put them in my fenced yard, and that was a flat out lie.”

Smith could not be reached for comment.

Perkins, his attorney, said he was working with the city prosecutor, Bridget Bailey, to hopefully get a necropsy done, which is an animal autopsy.

“From the defense perspective one would think you’d want to nail down a cause of death before charging it, but that’s where we’re doing, to determine that,” Perkins said.

Perkins wondered if there was disease or some kind of toxic agent that caused it. “It seems odd to me that the three dogs would die at the same time. It seems to me there was toxic substance involved.”

A necropsy on all three dogs would cost $600 to $800. He said the prosecutor agreed more investigation needed to be done, “but our problem is resources.”

Perkins said, “I think we really need to know why the dogs died.”

He said if the city didn’t opt to do the necropsy, he would file a motion with the judge asking that it be done.

Steele said she never saw Smith take the dogs for a walk.

She said she put a blanket on the back window “because the sun was just baking them to death in there. I wish I would’ve called a lot sooner. I don’t know if they would’ve took them away or left them there or what, but at least I could’ve said I tried. I think it hits me so hard because I think of them as children. I never had any, so my babies are my pets.”

She has three dogs and two cats.

“He even said the day that it happened that he had a door popped open, but the wind must’ve blew it shut,” she said. “But sorry, the way the wind was blowing it would’ve blown it open, it would not have blown it shut.”

She said Smith has been living on her property for about a month, and his mother has been living there for two months.

She said she only ever saw the terrier.

“The two pit bulls, I think I saw them once a month or more ago when I looked in the back of his truck, but I have never seen them put foot on the ground. And he would open the door and just yell at them because they pooped in there, they peed in there. I was yelling at him, ‘It’s not their fault, it’s your fault.’”

One day she said one of the animals chewed through its cage in the vehicle and got out, which angered Smith.

She said Smith “wanted to bury them on my property and I said no. Every time I looked out there it would make me sick. ‘That’s your problem, you figure it out, you did it.’”

She has asked that Smith’s mother move her camp trailer off her property.

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