Guilty Plea Entered to Animal Cruelty
Debra Lewandowski, a 53-year-old resident of Alpena County, has recently pled guilty to several criminal charges, after she was accused of keeping a significant number of animals in “horrifying” conditions on her farm in northeastern Michigan.
According to Alpena County Sheriff’s Deputies, Lewandowski had more than 80 animals living in conditions that deputies described as overcrowded and awful. During a raid that was conducted last year, officials found about 30 dogs that were said to have feces caked into the pads of their feet and matted into their coats. Several donkeys were found with curled hooves, and horses were being kept inside a small shack with a number of pigs.
All together, there were dogs, horse, donkeys, pigs, turkeys, rabbits, ducks, chickens and a great many birds. The horses, authorities said, had been kept in the dark in a very small shack, and had hardly been given any time outside.
The dogs were taken by the Huron Humane Society of Alpena to be cared for, cleaned and properly fed. The remaining animals were taken to other farms in the area, where they will be cared for by volunteers. All but four of the animals were saved, authorities have said. Two horses, one donkey and one dog had to be euthanized.
Lewandowski was charged with a single count of animal abandonment/cruelty involving more than 10 animals, which is a felony under Michigan law, and is punishable by up to four years in prison. She later pleaded guilty to that same charge, and is scheduled for sentencing on March 21st in Alpena County Circuit Court.
The Michigan penal code states that, in addition to the possible four year sentence, fines that could reach up to $5,000, and as much as 500 hours of community service, the presiding Judge may decide to have the defendant undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Also, if this is the case, the evaluation must be paid for by the defendant. In this case, however, no mention has been made of Lewandowski undergoing a psychiatric evaluation as part of her sentencing.