Casa K-9 owner charged with animal cruelty

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Helen Jackson, 84, owner of Casa K-9 Kennel on West Ridgecrest Boulevard, appeared in court Sept. 26, after being officially charged with four felony counts of cruelty to animals on Sept. 16.

Her preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 3 in the East Kern Superior Court in Ridgecrest.

At her arraignment last Thursday, she pled not guilty to all four charges and requested a public defender. Until the case is resolved, Jackson was ordered by Judge Kenneth Pritchard to have no contact with animals. She questioned the order, saying that “a lot of animals hang out” at her business location.

When the judge repeated the “no contact” requirement, Jackson shot back, “You mean I can’t feed them?” Judge Pritchard said that if food was being put outdoors and animals came up and ate it, that would be acceptable, but she was not to let stray animals come into her house.

He urged Jackson to talk to the attorney just appointed for her. She continued to ask questions, and was again referred to her attorney.

Her preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 3.

She was arrested at about 5 p.m. on Sept. 16 by Ridgecrest police officers. She posted bail while she was at the Police Department. Her bail was set at $40,000 ($10,000 for each of the four charges).

According to Assistant District Attorney Scott Garver, the four charges are based on the animals for which the DA’s office has the best documentation. “While many animals were in poor condition, and the condition of the kennel itself was terrible, we filed on the most injured animals so the case can go forward,” said Garver.

Last July Jackson’s business was raided by police and Animal Control officers, who removed some 33 animals from her animal boarding facility. The officers said they found both the animals and the animals’ cages in very poor condition.

Jackson’s electricity was cut off last fall following an electrical fire. Southern California Edison declared the premises not up to code, and shut off the electricity. Electrical service will not be restored until the required code violations are corrected; Jackson disputes the need for the additional work on the facility. Meanwhile, without electricity, there was neither heat in winter nor cooling in summer inside the facility.

Police Captain Paul Wheeler, who is also the code-enforcement supervisor for the city of Ridgecrest, stated that Jackson’s facility was inspected by both the building inspector and the Ridgecrest Fire Department last November. Both said the building was unfit for habitation by humans or animals and pulled Jackson’s electric meter.

“We found code violations and sent the owner a letter advising she needed to fix those,” said Wheeler.

On June 27 RCPD received another call regarding conditions at the site. Animal Control officers went to Jackson’s business on July 5 and confirmed conditions. A warrant was obtained and officers went back out and seized the animals, which were taken to the Animal Shelter to be cared for and receive veterinary care. Reports were written and filed.

According to www.thepetitionsite, a petition authored by Heather Dawn Struznik-Ginnings and addressed to the district attorney’s office calls for Jackson’s business to be permanently closed. This newspaper does not endorse or repudiate this petition, which is mentioned only as one local reaction to the Casa K-9 situation.

Jackson had been in business at that site for 28 years.

Of the animals seized, three were found to be microchipped and were reunited with their owners.

Story First Published: 2013-10-01