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Rainier, Oregon woman pleads not guilty to animal cruelty charges

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On Wednesday, Jan. 1, The Daily News Online reported that a Rainier, Oregon woman has pleaded not guilty to 48 counts of animal cruelty.

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Catherine Ann Setere, an Oregon state dog breeder, allegedly neglected a number of dogs and horses, but entered not guilty pleas on Monday, Dec. 30 in Columbia County Circuit Court.

On Dec. 31, the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) reported that the animals were removed from an "alleged puppy mill" on Setere's property after authorities found inadequate shelter, unsanitary conditions, and lack of water.

After the passage of a new Oregon law, the animal cruelty counts now carry a stronger sentence. If Setere is convicted, she could face up to five years in jail and a fine of $125,000 for each count of animal cruelty.

Setere, who breeds and shows Akita dogs, would be barred from owning domestic animals, including horses, for five years.

On Nov. 13, 2013, OHS seized 118 dogs and 21 horses from Setere’s Rainier property at 25888 Karr Rd. S.W. According to the OHS, it was one of the largest dog rescues in their history.

Officials noted that several of the horses were emaciated, with one that was near death. The dogs fared no better, with officials calling their living conditions "shocking".

According to spokesman David Lytle, all of the animals are being held by OHS as evidence in the case.

Under the Omnibus Animal Protection Act, which took effect in August, animal cruelty charges are elevated from misdemeanors to felonies if ten or more animals are involved in a case of mass neglect. Each of Setere's charges are felonies under this new law.

According to OHS officials, this is one of the first instances where the new law has been used.

The seized horses are receiving care at Sound Equine Options in Gresham, Ore.

Some of the dogs have been placed in foster homes, but the majority of the rescued dogs are in an OHS-built emergency shelter in Portland. OHS, which is supported by donations, works to end animal cruelty 365 days a year. It has spent more than $50,000 so far on the dogs' emergency shelter.

Your donation helps the OHS humane officers investigate animal abuse and neglect. Click here to donate to OHS and help their animal rescue efforts.

Each of the rescued animals are improving, but none can be adopted at this time as they continue to be evidence in the ongoing animal cruelty case. OHS officials do hope that the new animals will eventually be placed in new homes.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a puppy mill is an "inhumane, commercial dog-breeding facility..." where "the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits."

Puppy mill breeding dogs live their entire lives in small wire cages, often stacked one on top of another, with no human contact or companionship. Dogs who are rescued from puppy mills often need help becoming socialized to human companionship, learning how to love and trust people after lifetimes of neglect.

The HSUS has a campaign to stop puppy mills - and you can learn how to end them here.

Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.

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