Thursday, August 13, 2009


By Nick Lough & KULR Staff

BILLINGS - A Ballantine woman will no longer be allowed to breed dogs and must seek mental health treatments after a judge sentenced her Tuesday on an animal cruelty charge.

As part of a plea deal, Linda Kapsa was sentence to serve 20 years in the Department of Health and Human services with all time suspended. She will spend no time in jail.

Judge Susan Watters also ordered that she keep no more than three spayed or neutered dogs as companions during that twenty years and a probation officer will be able to visit the property at anytime to check on the welfare of the animals.

Yellowstone Deputy County Attorney Ingrid Rosenquist says, "I think this is an appropriate sentence and actually and ironically it is eight months to the day since we did the initial seizure on December 11, 2008.”

Kapsa will also be able to keep several goats, chickens, horses, and cockateels. She was ordered to pay $120,000 dollars in restitution. A payment plan of $50 dollars every month for the next 20 years was set up.

More than 200 dogs have been under the care of the county since they were taken last December. A private rescue group is now helping those animals find new homes..." More & video

May 7, 2009: Kapsa may sue over dog details

Linda Kapsa, the Ballantine dog breeder charged with aggravated animal cruelty, has threatened to file a lawsuit against Yellowstone County if officials don't provide her with information about the welfare of the dogs seized from her kennel.

In a letter dated May 1 and received by the county on Monday, Kapsa's attorney, Elizabeth Honaker, demands answers to 26 questions regarding the seizure and treatment of English shepherds and other animals seized in December from Kapsa's Shady Lane Kennels...

The letter asked the county to confirm that between 47 and 51 animals have died since they were seized and whether there were any dogs injured during the raids "by choke poles, whips, farming implements, dragging paws across the snow and ice, by a stun gun, and/or any other source in the county's control."...

Kapsa's criminal trial was originally scheduled to begin Monday, but it was delayed recently at the request of her court-appointed attorney. Deputy Public Defender Moira D'Alton said in a court brief that the delay was needed so a psychiatrist could complete his work to determine if Kapsa is competent to stand trial...

Most of the seized dogs are being held at the MetraPark grounds. Officials have estimated the cost of caring for them so far at more than $75,000.In court records, prosecutors allege authorities found about a dozen dead dogs at her kennel, and many others were malnourished and neglected. Kapsa has also been charged with four related misdemeanor charges...." More

Photo: BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff

Jan 29, 2009: Encourage legislators to take action against heartless pet hoarders

Montana, Great Falls Tribune - By CAROL BRADLEY

"...hoarders, people who somehow manage to collect hundreds of animals, house them in below-zero temperatures, ignore their wounds and broken bones, and give them food and water whenever they feel like it.... back in 2001, when an Alaskan couple driving into Montana were found with 179 cold and wet collies and 11 cats in the back of their semi.

Toole County officials courageously stepped forward and charged the couple with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Their reward for doing the right thing: For six months Shelby residents had to operate "Camp Collie" at the fairgrounds (the dogs were moved to Great Falls for another three months before the owners were convicted and new homes could be found). Toole County spent more than $167,000, the Humane Society of the United States shelled out $250,000 and the American Working Collie Association spent tens of thousands more to care for this small army of dogs.

That was just the beginning. A couple of years later Cascade County spent more than $100,000 feeding and housing 138 dogs, 18 horses and 17 cats taken from the property of notorious hoarder Pam Polejewski. The discovery of 100 sled dogs in an old bus near Butte last year has cost the Humane Society $150,000.
And last month, authorities seized 199 live dogs and two dozen dead ones from Linda Kapsa's Shady Lane Kennels near Billings.

They're being held at the county fairgrounds, unable to be adopted out until the case is resolved in court.

Here's the good news: Montana's Legislature is considering a bill that would give authorities new tools to fight these Hotel Hells.

For starters, the proposed law would recognize companion animal hoarding as a form of animal cruelty. And it would provide that, in addition to being fined, a convicted hoarder may be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and/or treatment.

That's because, even though hoarders lack the time, ability and means to provide minimal care for their animals, they are in complete denial. They defend their practices even as dead and dying animals lie strewn about their property.

Do we really want to sentence nutty old ladies to prison for having a houseful of cats? Of course not.

Montana's jails are too crowded as it is. But giving hoarders a suspended sentence would authorize officials to inspect their property to make certain they aren't cranking up operations again. That's the truly awful thing about these Hotel Hells. The minute nobody's looking, they're back in business. Hoarders have a recidivism rate of nearly 100 percent.

This marks the fourth time a hoarding bill has been introduced in Helena. Last time around, the House passed the bill by 68 votes, but it died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This time it has broad-based support, not just among animal welfare supporters. Sheriffs and prosecutors who've had to grapple with hoarders' handiwork have signed on, too.

Still, let's not take any chances. Take a moment today to call the state Capitol at 406- 444-4800 and ask members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote yes on Senate Bill 221 with amendments..." More