BOULDER — A 12-member jury on Thursday convicted a Jefferson County kennel operator of seriously neglecting and abusing his dogs.

Mike Chilinski was found guilty of 91 counts of cruelty to animals. District Judge Loren Tucker remanded Chilinski to jail and ordered a pre-sentencing investigation.

The jury of six men and six women started deliberating just after 1 p.m. and came back with the verdict about 5:15 p.m.

The jury convicted Chilinski of neglecting dogs at his large rural kennel by not providing adequate food and water, shelter and medical attention. Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies and member of the U.S. Humane Society seized about 160 dogs from his property during a raid in October 2011.

Bob Sutherland, who is president of the Alaskan Malamute Assistance League, said Thursday he is happy with the jury’s verdict. Sutherland, of Anchorage, Alaska, and other members of the malamute rescue group witnessed the entire four-day trial.

“After seeing the condition of the dogs, we feel this is the right decision,” Sutherland said.

Now that Chilinski has been convicted, Sutherland said his group is going to start finding good homes for the seized dogs.

Calling to “end this breeding nightmare,” Jefferson County district attorney Mathew Johnson, during closing arguments Thursday, asked the jury to find Chilinski guilty. He told the jury that Chilinski’s property was a chaotic clutter of dilapidated kennels that were littered with feces and debris.

“The conditions of the breeding facility were appalling,” Johnson said.

He said many of the 139 adult malamutes and 23 of the puppies seized were starved and emaciated. Johnson noted that four veterinarians who testified during the four-day trial said most of the dogs were severely underweight, and had scars and parasites.

“They were in serious poor health from lack of adequate nutrition,” he said.

Chilinski’s attorney, Betty Carlson, a state public defender, told the jury her client is a good man who had just fallen on hard times.

“Mr. Chilinski isn’t a monster,” Carlson said in her closing. “He’s a man who had a little too little a little too late.”

Carlson said Chilinski cared for his dogs, but medical and financial burdens made it difficult. She said he did his best to take care of his dogs and never abused them. Carlson told the jury that heavy-handed tactics from the Humane Society made Chilinski’s kennels appear worse than they really were.

Carlson said the Humane Society has an “agenda” to put large breeders out of business by accusing them of abuse.

“They just sweep in and it’s, ‘my way or the highway,’” she said.

Carlson also accused the Humane Society of releasing videos and pictures from the Oct. 12, 2011, raid on Chilinski’s property to the media without authorization.

Chilinski testified earlier that day and said the animal breeders consider the Humane Society a “terrorist organization.”

Chilinski bred the dogs on his five-acre property off of Malamute Way near Jefferson City, south of Helena.

He further testified that he fed and watered his dogs every day. He also said he routinely cleaned up the feces that investigators said were scattered all over his property and in his home during their raid. Chilinski said he didn’t have time to clean the feces the morning of the raid, because investigators came so early.

Johnson said in his closing that this case wasn’t about the Humane Society’s alleged “agenda.” He said it’s about a man who seriously neglected his dogs and didn’t seek help to protect them when times became difficult.

(5) comments

lephead

This guy is a total and complete con artist and is as guilty as you can possibly get! Think about, he has a bad back and is trying to take care of over 150 dogs? Total liar!

kaye6

yeah guilty guilty guilty now will the judge follow through with prison time. thats all this man deserves. no clemency or deals like the cat killers. put him away for a long time so he cant start another kennel. thank god the dogs can now have a 2nd chance in life now and be adopted out. lets hope the justice system will protect other dogs in these breeding kennels. nothing ever comes of a breeding establishment for those poor dogs. they just line the pockets with money on the owners. their care is basically the same as this situation. come on judge SOCK IT TO HIM

joeydef
joeydef

Hey, this is the clown who states that he has back and foot issues, which has not allowed him to take good care of his dogs, and he is on food stamps., Here is the kicker, he is able to drive 55 miles round trip from his home to Broadwater Athletic Club each day (that's gotta cost some serious gas cash) to play ping-pong and hang at the club bugging other people, and spewing his BS about how he is agreat guy and the police and humane society are evil. Twelve words for you Mr. Dog-killer: get a clue, get a job, get a life away from Montana.

Mal-lover

First, I would like to thank the jurors! While I believe there should definitely be jail time, I also realize the reality is there will be little time actually served. I truly hope that there is also some mandatory mental evaluation and treatment ordered - with all of the conspiracy theories being professed by the defendant I believe there is a serious problem that needs to be diagnosed and treated. Now, to find loving homes for each and every one of these wonderful dogs which is most important part of this entire mess.

Kiten4Mals

He may be guilty on all counts - however, he did speak one truth. H$U$ was there and they DO have an agenda. Do not ever be fooled by their involvement in any matters concerning animals. They will never be happy until NO person ever owns an animal ever again. They are starting with breeders as they can't do anything about the puppy millers. Anyone who sujpports H$U$ OR PETA OR similar orginzations are blind to the truth. When will folks wake up?? A life without owning an animal is NO kind of life to live.

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