The woman found to have 23 dogs crammed into her Ontare Road home was sentenced to three years probation after she pleaded guilty last month to public nuisance charges.

Authorities discovered Kathryn Thomas was breeding Jack Russell terriers and Australian shepherds in her home last April after paramedics responded to an unrelated incident at a nearby house. From the sidewalk, they could smell pungent feces and other odors coming from Thomas’s house.

The medics contacted Animal Control, and police officers obtained a search warrant for the house. Police found it to be a mess. Water bowls were dirty, and some of the dogs were malnourished. The stench in the garage was so bad Animal Control officers had trouble breathing. Police interviews with Thomas revealed the woman owned or co-owned most of the dogs, and she displayed the rest in dog shows. Purebred puppies can go for more than $1,000 at a pet shop.

The Santa Barbara house was not as filthy as a similar one discovered in November when a Caltrans worker heard dogs barking inside a house in Los Alamos. It turned out 24 dogs were languishing inside. The floors were covered with feces and urine. The owner, Sean Donaghy, was not home at the time Animal Services showed up to seize the dogs, but he has since been charged with one misdemeanor count of failure to care for animals. His arraigned is scheduled for February 27 in Santa Maria.

Of the 24 seized dogs, one was euthanized due to liver failure, according to county shelter operations manager Dori Villalon. Seven were adopted, and four are in foster care. Eight were transferred to nonprofit partners, and four are still up for adoption.


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