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Forum staff reports, Published September 10 2013

Wheatland dog owner pleads not guilty to neglect charges

FARGO – A Wheatland dog breeder charged with animal neglect after authorities seized about 170 dogs from him pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Darcy Darrell Smith, 51, pleaded not guilty in Cass County District Court Tuesday to six charges of depriving an animal of necessary food or water, a Class A misdemeanor.

Cass County Sheriff’s deputies seized 168 dogs from Smith’s rural breeding operation on July 10, after allegedly finding them stacked in cages three deep, some dogs five to a cage, in piles of their own feces and urine-soaked paper. Authorities claim some dogs had not been groomed so long they were immobilized by matted fur.

Smith waived his rights to the dogs three weeks later, and they are now being adopted through local animal rescues.

The attorney representing Smith, Gordon Dexheimer, declined to comment.