An Onalaska woman who has been charged with seven counts of animal cruelty fulfilled a summons to Lewis County Superior Court on Tuesday with her attorney, where she pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Katherine A. Pratt, 48, of Onalaska, is facing three counts of first-degree animal cruelty, which is a felony punishable by up to $10,000, five years in prison or both, and four counts of second-degree animal cruelty, which is a gross misdemeanor.
She appeared in court for a preliminary hearing and was then allowed to submit her not guilty pleas. On behalf of the state, Prosecutor Paul Masielo requested $20,000 unsecured bail, meaning Pratt would not be held in jail unless she violated terms of release or did not appear in court when scheduled.
Judge Joely Yeager granted the request. Masielo also asked the conditions of release include Pratt be barred from owning any animals throughout the remainder of her case in court.
Pratt’s attorney, Dennis Schroader, said there was more to the case than meets the eye from the affidavit of probable cause.
“My client’s husband died,” Schroader said, adding that she was left in a position where she could no longer manage her pets. “She called animal control (on herself).”
Yeager offered Pratt her condolences. Pratt said her husband died on Nov. 12.
Schroader added Pratt has several healthy dogs and horses still living with her which were not seized by Lewis County. Yeager permitted Pratt to keep her current pets, provided she takes good care of them and does not obtain any more animals. Schroader then disclosed to the court Pratt still had several dogs from her property that were at large.
According to the affidavit, on or around Dec. 1, 2022, Lewis County Humane Officer Alishia Hornburg contacted Katrina Conrad, who had adopted pets from Pratt’s residence in the 500 block of Gish Road in Onalaska.
Conrad described the living conditions of the residence as “unsanitary” with dogs in small, unclean cages and “trails to get from one place to another,” court records state. Conrad reportedly said the property had about 20 cats, three wolf hybrids “chained in a shed,” one malamute, two pregnant huskies, multiple dogs of “an unknown breed” and about a dozen horses in “deplorable conditions,” the affidavit states.
With the assistance of a veterinarian, volunteers and deputies, Hornburg executed a search warrant on the property on Dec. 8. The crew located the bodies of two dead dogs in various states of decay; one dead puppy; one dog each in a flooded kennel, an undersized enclosure and “deplorable,” filthy conditions; and a cat with a compound fracture. Each of these animals combined make the seven for which charges were filed.
At least one horse was accounted for during the search, but specifics on how many and their living conditions were not outlined in the court records.
The three dead dogs account for the first-degree animal cruelty charges. To face such a charge, a defendant must be accused of either “intentionally and unlawfully” killing an animal or performing a number of actions that are known to kill animals, such as dehydrating, suffocating or exposing them to extreme temperatures.
Pratt’s next appearance in court will be for an omnibus hearing on March 2.