Animal abuse leads to prison time for serial abuser

Serial animal abuser is sentenced to one-year in prison after repeated acts of extreme animal cruelty and probation violations.

A serial animal abuser, Kathleen Doenz, was sentenced to hard time due to repeated violations of gross animal abuse. She was first investigated for animal abuse in 2004. She was charged with 83 criminal counts, including failing to provide adequate shelter and water to horses and dogs. In 2006, she took a plea deal that convicted her of four counts of animal cruelty. She was ordered to pay $6,300 in restitution and fined $900, placed on two years of probation and prohibited from owning any more animals.

Specific orders, like a prohibition against owning animals, are common stipulations enforced by judges. For example, it is very common for computer hackers to be prohibited from owning computers or accessing the Internet.

Lenient plea deals are typical for animal cruelty charges. Animal cruelty is not a priority for police, prosecutors or judges when there is an overwhelming amount of human on human crimes. Unfortunately, the plea deal did not deter Ms. Doenz as she re-offended in 2013.

After several months of investigation, the Pine County Sheriff’s Office served warrants on Ms. Doenz and her mother, Gloria Carlson, to search several of their properties. The investigators found dogs, cats, horses, ducks and chickens deprived of food, shelter and water living in squalor. Several of the animals were euthanized due to their poor health.

Both women were charged with five felonies, five gross misdemeanors and four misdemeanors related to animal cruelty, abuse and neglect. Ms. Doenz pleaded guilty to one felony charge, all others were dismissed. She served 90 days in jail, was put on five years of probation and a second order to refrain from owning animals was entered against her.

Within two weeks of her release, she acquired 29 mini-horses. She also violated her probation twice more the following month. Ms. Doenz was re-arrested and the court sentenced her to one-year in prison.

According to Max A. Keller, a Minneapolis defense attorney, “Animal abuse charges rarely result in felony charges or hard time. Only in the most extreme cases, like Ms. Doenz, is there a possibility serious punishment.”

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.