A 52-year-old Iowa City woman who runs a pet care business has been shut down and ticketed on suspicion of cruelty to animals after authorities reported finding a dozen dogs on her property without required permits, many of which were being kept in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
Deb Danielson faces charges of animal neglect, having dogs outside without shelter, not having a boarding permit and not having a kennel permit after Iowa City animal control officers visited Danielson’s home at 1104 First Ave. at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20.
Misha Goodman, Director of the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, said police and animal control officers were called to the address after one of the dogs on her property escaped through a hole in the fence and ran onto First Avenue.
Upon arrival, officers found 12 dogs, seven of which were being kept outside without shelter and in unsanitary conditions including excessive feces, according to a criminal complaint. Goodman said the dogs were being held in by a fence with holes, and the yard was mostly dirt.
She said there were two inflatable swimming pools filled with feces.
“It was like it had been picked up and put in the open pools,” Goodman said.
One Wheaten Terrier was tethered on a 25-foot cord clipped to a chain link fence on the driveway, Goodman said. That dog was without water or shelter, the complaint said, and could have become entangled in an outdoor fire pit, bikes and other items strewn around.
“The only shelter was a dog house that was completely unusable,” Goodman said. “It was broken and caved in.”
The complaints also accuse Danielson of failing to have a boarding permit and kennel permit for at least 12 dogs on her property. Her business is not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Goodman said the city has known about Danielson’s business for years but always believed she was going to people’s homes and caring for animals there, not taking them to another location.
Most of the dogs discovered last month at Danielson’s home did not belong to her, Goodman said. They were owned by individuals who were paying Danielson to care for their pets, Goodman said.
“They were being told that the dogs were being picked up to go play in a dog group with other dogs,” Goodman said.
During the more than two-hour period that police were at Danielson’s home in September, she was not there, Goodman said.
“This is a consumer beware thing,” Goodman said. “Really check out where your animal is going.”
Danielson couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday. Calls to numbers listed for both her home and business went unanswered.
A Facebook page for Critter Care lists its services as doggie daycare, in-home pet sitting, dog walking, boarding, and home visits.
A review on Yelp calls Danielson “amazing.”
“Not only did she provide fantastic pet-sitting services, but she also offered helpful advice and care,” the person wrote. “Now, a full two years later, we still use Critter Care services.”
Danielson has a criminal history in Johnson County that includes convictions for several interference with official acts charges, failure to have a valid license charges, failure to secure a child and other minor violations.
If convicted of the new animal abuse charges, Goodman said, Danielson won’t be able to get a state license to operate an animal establishment or business for five years.
But, Goodman said, the state does not license dog sitters and people who come to homes to care for animals.