Animal Cruelty Convict Found With Dogs


By Annie Andrews,

Denise Withee was located across the border in Monona county Iowa in possession of 13 dogs. The Monona County Sheriff's Department said she had used an alias to purchase the animals, a direct violation of her probation. Although for some it might be hard to believe, local animal rescue activists said they aren't surprised it happened again.

"This is Lucy," said Joni Rodabaugh, introducing her rescue dogs one by one. Joni Rodabaugh is part of IMPS, Internet Miniature Pinscher Service, a rescue agency that brings puppies back to life. Lucy has a very different life than the two dozen once owned by Denise Withee.

"It was devastating to arrive on scene and see the 23 dogs and that many deceased, it was horrible," said Grand Island's Human Society Director, Laurie Dethloff. Pictures taken on that day in July 2008, tell a story of neglect.

"Horrifying that anyone would do that," said Rodabaugh. Horrifying, because for these women, rescue is part of their lives. "You take the dog in and you love it and give it attention and care for the animal." This, said Rodabaugh, is very different than Withee's situation. "I don't think she showed car compassion kindness for these animals," she said.

"This is a business, she brokers," explained Dethloff. "She buys and sells dogs." Dethloff said this type of business model doesn't afford care or consideration, especially for sick dogs. "It's all about the money."

"Just think about the amount of food and vet care for that many dogs," remarked Rodabaugh. Yearly estimates for one dog run about a thousand dollars, not including the extras, she said. "That also means food, treats, dental care."

At 13 dogs, Withee could be looking at an average expense of $13,000 dollars or more, a price that proved too high three years ago. "I don't see how one mother and daughter could care for that many dogs," said Rodabaugh. Especially, she said, for someone that wasn't supposed to have any dogs to begin with.

"I was disappointed there wasn't a stronger sentence from the beginning."

Although both women are still upset about the original sentence, they said they are happy that Iowa followed up and followed through. Dethloff is hoping for jail time or serious restitution for the violation. She said for cases like Withee, the sentence needs to either impact their time or cut into their profit margin enough to make the abuse and neglect stop.