Anderson Farm owners join civil hearing hours after criminal charges filed; third hearing scheduled for April

(ABC 6 News) – Testimony concerning the seizure of German Shepherds from a LeRoy dog-breeding operation continued Monday, March 18 — and won’t conclude until April.

In late February, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office removed 15 German Shepherds from Anderson Farm over concerns that the dogs were malnourished and kept in filthy conditions.

At the first hearing Monday, March 4, the court heard from the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office and a humane society veterinarian who helped inspect the dogs, as well as two individuals who vouched for the Anderson Farm owners’ care of their dogs.

RELATED: First hearing: Veterinarians, Fillmore County sergeant and Anderson Farm associates present case for, against German Shepherd seizure – ABC 6 News –

Criminal charges filed on the same day

Donald Anderson and Elham Alayyoub, the owners of Anderson Farm, were conspicuously absent at the beginning of the second civil hearing.

Attorney Steven Hovey, representing the two, said the pair was told not to attend the civil case after criminal charges were filed Monday, March 18.

Earlier in the day, Fillmore County criminally charged each with 9 misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals.

RELATED: Anderson Farm dog owners charged with criminal mistreatment of animals on day of second lawsuit hearing – ABC 6 News –

Hovey said their criminal defense attorney advised them to “stay away” from the civil proceedings, lest Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson call them to testify against themselves in the civil case.

Judge Jeremy Clinefelter reassured Hovey that he would not allow the county attorney to call them to the stand.

The Zoom hearing reconvened once Anderson and Alayyoub were contacted and logged in, about half an hour after the hearing was originally scheduled.

Their testimony was placed on hold until their criminal defense attorney could review the mistreatment of animals charges..

Description of day of dog seizure

Hovey began by calling Sgt. Dan Dornink with the FCSO back to the stand.

Hovey alleged that at the end of one of Dornink’s visits, he had told Anderson and Alayyoub that the county would “come up with a plan” to improve the condition of the animals.

That plan was never shared before the seizure, Hovey claimed, and Dornink decided to collect the animals after his visit Feb. 13, before even seeing the animals Feb. 22.

However, Dornink testified that the dog breeders didn’t want to listen to a veterinarian’s concerns about the dogs’ weight and body condition during his previous visit.

Additionally, he told Fillmore County attorney Brett Corson that he had seen no improvement in the owners’ willingness to listen to a veterinarian’s concerns between his initial visit with a vet and his later visit with the Animal Humane Society.

“Had we seen a vast improvement, we may have changed our minds,” Dornink said.

Humane Investigation Agent Ashley Pudas agreed that although the humane society workers arrived at the farm Feb. 22 ready to seize the dogs, workers may have held off if the county had observed that the animals’ condition had improved.

Humane Society workers parked down the road while Dornink spoke to Anderson and Alayyoub, notifying them that the workers were there to take the animals, Pudas said.

Then the Humane Society workers inspected the animals before they were moved into vehicles, she added.

Pudas testified that she could smell urine and feces from outside the kennel — an unusual thing to encounter in an environment that is cleaned regularly. She further detailed allegedly soiled cardboard on the floors, as well as urine and other moisture on the floors which could have eventually damaged the dogs’ footpads.

“If I can see hip bones on a long-coated dog, something’s very wrong,” she added.

Pudas said post-inspection, it was her expert opinion that the dogs should be removed from the kennels — at least for the time being.

Should the dogs be returned?

Pudas said she — and the Animal Humane Society — request that the dogs not be returned to Anderson and Alayyoub.

“It’s common knowledge that if you have a dog that’s losing weight, you contact a vet,” Pudas said. “They did not do that for 15 dogs.”

However, Hovey claimed that vet records for the dogs from 2021-2023 recorded even slimmer, lighter animals — suggesting the dogs had actually gained weight before the seizure in February of 2024.

Pudas said she was concerned to hear that they had been in an emaciated condition for longer than the Humane Society had even known.

“I am shocked,” she said.
“It could be that you’re wrong about how close they were to death or organ failure,” Hovey said.

“Just because they haven’t died in the last two years, you can’t for certain say that they wouldn’t be dead two weeks later,” Pudas responded.

Dr. Ashley Plotkowski, who has cared for the German Shepherds since their seizure, reiterated that although the dogs lost weight in their first days at the shelter, they have begun to gain weight back.

The Animal Humane Society has experimented with different foods to determine what each German Shepherd likes best, in order to encourage them to gain weight, Plotkowski said.

She agreed with Pudas that the animals should not be returned to the Anderson farm.

“Obviously, I don’t know the Andersons personally — but it doesn’t seem like they would be capable of putting in that much time and dedication into each individual animal,” she said.

The Animal Humane Society has declined to share any information about the dogs’ condition with ABC 6 News until the conclusion of the civil suit.

Next hearings scheduled in April and May

The case will continue with Anderson and Alayyoub’s testimony in a third hearing 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 9.

RELATED: Anderson Farm dog owners charged with criminal mistreatment of animals on day of second lawsuit hearing – ABC 6 News –

Hovey and the Andersons had not accessed their own publicly available criminal charges, Hovey said, and needed emailed copies before things could move forward.

The Anderson Farm owners are scheduled to appear in court on those charges May 16.

In the meantime, Hovey suggested that the Animal Humane Society could mitigate the $35/day cost of housing the dogs at the shelter by placing them elsewhere — with the understanding that the Andersons had not surrendered ownership.