Animal cruelty suspect heads to court - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Animal cruelty suspect heads to court

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BETHLEHEM, CT (WFSB) -

The director of an animal shelter is facing criminal charges and appeared in court Monday after the town of Bethlehem seized dogs from his residence. 

Frederick Acker, of Bethlehem, is being charged with 62 counts of animal cruelty after authorities said they seized 65 dogs that were being housed in filthy conditions without access to food and water.

Acker denies the claims and is planning to fight to keep all of his dogs.

"We rehabilitate dogs and now have him ready for adoption," he said.

Acker, who appeared in Bantam Superior Court Monday, told the judge he was building a rescue center in Bethlehem. However, construction was not complete, and when the dogs arrived, there was not enough heat.

Bethlehem's Animal Control Officer Judy Umstead said the dogs were shivering because it was so cold.

She said in a statement that "he was given warning. The temperatures and living conditions were not appropriate. There was no food or water, they were freezing."

Last month, a Woodbury veterinarian told a judge the dogs were shivering violently when he saw them.

"I observed many of the small toy shorthair breeds curled up on the floors of the their kennels, mostly one layer of newspaper on the bottom," said Dr. Brad Davis previously. "Many of them curled up in a ball, shivering violently."

All 63 dogs were removed from the barn and are now living in different animal shelters.

Acker said his barn was not that cold and feels the town's animal control officer has a vendetta against him. He added she has a conflict of interest because she works not only for a kennel but another animal rescue group.

"This is a case of an animal control officer not investigating animal cruelty, but choosing to harass other animal rescuers," Acker said.

As for the dogs, Eyewitness News was told people are interested in adopting many of them, but nothing can be done until a decision in court is made.

Acker will appear in court on Wednesday, when he will present his side of the story in the civil case against him. 

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