Dog breeder faces new felony cruelty charge

Mar. 29—GRAYLING — A dog breeder whose animals were previously seized by Antrim County officials investigating multiple cruelty complaints, in 2020 told a judge she was moving to Crawford County and now faces similar charges there, court records show.

Deborah Schultz, 70, formerly of Mancelona, was arraigned Tuesday in 87th District Court and pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor stalking and computer-related charges and one felony count of animal cruelty involving four to 10 animals.

Crawford County Undersheriff Shawn Schnoor said deputies assisted the county's animal control officer in an animal seizure, but declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing nature of the case.

On March 28, 2019, records show Antrim County law enforcement went to Shultz's home in Mancelona with a search warrant, and in the next 17 hours, seized 13 dogs — 12 German shepherds and a Chihuahua.

Officers reported they had to sedate some of the dogs, which were aggressive, and used handcuffs and zip ties to secure their crates, then covered the crates with blankets and towels and took the dogs to the shelter.

A veterinarian treated the dogs for skin and ear infections and open sores, an investigative report shows.

Schultz pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor cruelty charge, the remaining charges were dismissed, she was fined $750 and given two years of probation. A condition of which was she not acquire or breed any more dogs.

One of Schultz's dogs, Maggie, a German shepherd, was pregnant and she and her puppies died while in custody of Antrim County. An autopsy showed the dog died of GDT, or gastric dilation with torsion, a common condition in large breed dogs.

The remaining dogs in July 2019 were returned to Schultz, records show.

Then in February 2020, Schultz was charged with violating her probation, she appealed but was found guilty by 86th District Court Judge Robert Cooney, and her dogs were seized again.

Dean Pratt, who was then Antrim County Undersheriff, said the violation stemmed from Schultz obtaining additional dogs and breeding them.

Cooney ruled during a hearing the dogs were forfeit, meaning Schultz would not get them back. This time Antrim County transported the dogs to the Mancelona Veterinary Clinic for check-ups and treatment.

A report shows many had the same skin, nail and parasitic issues they'd been treated for at the shelter after the first seizure.

Cooney ordered Schultz to pay $3,141.50 in restitution to Mancelona Veterinary Hospital and $2,961.34 to Antrim County for expenses incurred when her dogs were seized and ultimately forfeited.

On June 1, 2020, Schultz was again arraigned in 86th District Court on a charge she violated her probation, after officials said they'd received a tip Schultz was trying to register puppies with the American Kennel Club.

It was at this hearing that Schultz told Cooney she was moving to Crawford County. Cooney responded by informing Schultz he would be letting officers in that county know about the conditions of her probation.

A search of national AKC records shows on Dec. 22, 2020, the organization suspended Schultz for life and imposed a $10,000 fine, for "conduct prejudicial to purebred dogs, purebred dog events, or the best interest of the American Kennel Club."

A preliminary exam is scheduled May 2 in 87th District Court; it was unclear Tuesday whether Schultz had retained an attorney.