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Dog house is emptying, owner says

Mark R. Madler

The owner of a controversial dog shelter is meeting a court order to

reduce the number of dogs kept at her facility in preparation for a

move out of the city, the woman’s attorney said in court Monday. But

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former volunteers say she is hoarding animals, and will continue to

do so.

Chihuahua Rescue owner Kimi Peck placed more than 100 dogs Sunday, giving them to foster homes and other rescue organizations, leaving

her with only 88 dogs left, said Shannon Keith, Peck’s lawyer, who

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informed Superior Court Commissioner Kirkland R. Nyby Monday.

Peck acknowledged that before the placement of dogs Sunday, she

had 284 Chihuahuas housed at her rescue, but that is 50 more than the

city’s limit of 234 dogs, said Burbank Police Lt. Bruce Spiers, head

of the Burbank Animal Shelter.

In June, Peck pleaded no contest in Burbank Superior Court to a

municipal code violation of insufficient record keeping for the

animals at her shelter and agreed to move the facility out of the

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city. Peck has an Oct. 26 deadline to shut down her facility in the

400 block of Moss Street.

“I’m tired of rescuing,” Peck said. “I’m retiring and I’m going to

start a sanctuary. I do specialize in dogs that aren’t adoptable.

Bring me a dog that’s 15 years old that has six months to live;

that’s who I want to take care of.”

Peck and Chihuahua Rescue gained national attention in August 2003

when they took legal action in a case of 175 feral Chihuahuas taken

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from a ranch in Acton. A Los Angeles County judge later ruled that

Peck’s group could have the dogs placed into foster homes rather than

euthanizing them.

Former volunteers at Chihuahua Rescue paint a different portrait

of Peck -- the former daughter-in-law of late actor Gregory Peck --

as someone who hoards rather than rescues animals and keeps them in

neglected and dirty condition.

Former volunteers alleged that Peck is only placing animals now to

satisfy the court order, but will continue hoarding them wherever she

ends up outside of Burbank. Up to 350 dogs had been at the shelter at

one time, creating squalid conditions, they said.

Outside the Burbank courthouse Monday, a group of ex-shelter

workers held up large color photographs they claimed were taken at

the shelter showing multiple animals living in cramped feces-filled

cages.

Mark Hohne, a veterinarian who worked at the shelter, left after a

year because he couldn’t take the smell of the dogs whose cages were

not cleaned, he said.

“She kept it clean initially to make it so I wouldn’t see what was

happening,” Hohne said.

Peck counter-charged the volunteers were disgruntled people with

an ax to grind and that she has adopted out thousands of dogs over

the past decade.

“This is misdirected,” Peck said. “They should go after the

breeders and the people who abandon and abuse their animals, not the

rescuer who is merely a Band-Aid.”

The ex-volunteers were in court in hopes of getting Nyby to order

Peck to put the remaining dogs up for adoption rather than just

transfer the animals to another location.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was ready to

begin screening of applicants who wanted some of the dogs, said Rene

Barge, an attorney representing the ex-volunteers.

Instead, after a nearly 90-minute wait, they witnessed an update

on how many animals remained at the shelter and Nyby setting an Aug.

17 status date for the case.

“I was hoping the court would take more of a stance,” said Alissa

Stohlgren, a volunteer who left the rescue facility last fall. “But

we’ll be back.”

QUESTION

Should Kimi Peck, the owner of Chihuahua Rescue, be forced take

her rescue out of the city? E-mail your responses to burbankleader

@latimes.com; mail them to the Burbank Leader, 111 W. Wilson Ave.,

Glendale, CA, 91203. Please spell your name and include your address

and phone number for verification purposes only.


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