Man charged in animal cruelty case denies allegations
LITCHFIELD, CT (WFSB/AP) -
The man who ran an animal rescue group has been arrested and is facing more than 60 charges of animal cruelty after a dispute involving an animal shelter in Bethlehem.
More than 60 dogs were seized from the facility by Connecticut State Police earlier this month when the animals were found to be living in "inadequate" conditions.
The animals, which were described as being various sizes and breeds, were "in various states of health and the living conditions were deemed inadequate," according to state police.
State police have been investigating Frederick Acker, and according to them, Acker runs a private dog rescue and wasn't affiliated with the state.
"While most rescue groups are wonderful, we need to change the laws to protect all these animals because not every rescue is great as we see," said Bethlehem Animal Control Officer Judy Umstead. "And we're limited in what we can do."
Acker has an extensive criminal history, which includes nearly 40 counts of illegally importing animals from July, and the state is considering pulling his importer's license, which would stop him from bringing dogs into the state.
Acker called his arrest a "grave injustice" and said he will fight Bethlehem for custody of the dogs.
"They want custody of the dogs and they want money," Acker told Eyewitness News Tuesday.
After his appearance in court, Acker showed Eyewitness News the housing that he provided for 65 rescue dogs, which abused and neglected from all over the country.
"It's an us against them thing," he said.
A Woodbury veterinarian told a judge what he saw when he went to the barn.
"I observed many of the small toy short hair breeds curled up on the floors of the their kennels, mostly one layer of newspaper on the bottom," said Dr. Brad Davis. "Many of them curled up in a ball shivering violently."
Acker said it was 45 degrees inside the barn the night the dogs were taken, but Davis told the judge that it was only 30 and pitch black.
There are temperature guidelines for dog pounds, which is a minimum of 55 degrees. Acker said he feels the town is trying to shut him down because they don't like rescue shelters.
If Acker is not successful, he could be fined up to $1,000 a day, which is the cost of housing the dogs until a permanent home is found.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.
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