Alleged dog hoarder held to answer for felony animal cruelty |

Alleged dog hoarder held to answer for felony animal cruelty

A Nevada County Superior Court judge has held an alleged dog hoarder to answer on counts of felony animal cruelty and being a person prohibited from having a firearm.

Gary Dean Perkins, 53, was arrested in November 2013 on felony animal cruelty charges after Nevada County Sheriff's Animal Control officers seized more than 30 dogs from a parcel on the 16000 block of Bear Trap Springs Road, where Perkins reportedly was squatting.

During the initial phase of a preliminary hearing into the evidence against Perkins, Animal Control officers testified that many of the dogs had clearly visible spines and ribs. On the initial visit, officers found five empty bags of dog food that had been empty for some time, with no receptacles for feeding and no accessible water.

Five dead dogs and five live dogs were found on a subsequent visit, and necropsies reportedly revealed the dead animals died of starvation.

In court Tuesday, Judge Candace Heidelberger denied an unusual motion that would have forced Perkins to relinquish six dogs. Those cannot be rehomed until the court sorts out the case against Perkins, who has asked to get them back.

Sammie's Friends has been caring for the six dogs since Nov. 23 at a cost of $12 a day each, with the total cost of treatment estimated to be in excess of $8,000.

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Deputy District Attorney Jim Phillips had filed a forfeiture motion based on what he called a fairly new section of the California penal code that allows the government to seek seizure and forfeiture of dogs and cats under some circumstances, based on an unacceptable level of care.

But Heidelberger ruled that a seizure of the animals could be done more efficiently as an administrative action rather than a criminal motion, denying Phillips' motion, he said.

Nevada County Sheriff's Sgt. Sam Brown said that the dogs will remain at the shelter until Perkins' case is resolved, as they have been impounded for their safety. Should he be acquitted, he could reclaim those dogs if he pays the outstanding amount owed to the shelter, Brown said.

Perkins will return to court Friday to set a suppression motion on a claim by Perkins that his guns were seized unlawfully.

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