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50 dogs seized from woman's home

Puppy sale papers lead to a Lutz resident, who faces 40 counts of improper confinement.

By EMILY NIPPS
Published April 27, 2007


Hillsborough County Animal Services seized 50 dogs Wednesday from Ingeborg Kock's home. She was charged with improper animal confinement.
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[Times photo: Skip O'Rourke]
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[Times photo: Thomas M. Goethe]
Ingeborg Kock talks about her dogs, some of which were kept in cages behind her home.

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[Times photo: Skip O'Rourke]
Dr. Nilufer Wilkins, left, and Dannette Gillespie tend to a dog seized from a Lutz home.

LUTZ - Hillsborough County Animal Services first learned of Ingeborg Kock and her tiny dogs a year ago, when an anonymous tipster called and alleged she was running a puppy mill out of her home.

Investigators paid several visits to Kock, 71, and warned her twice to clean up the conditions and reduce the number of dogs, but were unable to prove she was breeding and selling animals without a permit.

Finally, the discovery of puppy sale documents at a local pet store on Wednesday led investigators to Kock's home at 2809 Wilson Circle in Lutz, where they seized 50 small-breed dogs. Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan said many of the dogs, which ranged from 4 weeks to breeding age, were caked in excrement, infested with fleas and confined in wooden boxes with almost no ventilation.

"It's hard to believe they were able to breathe, based on the photos I've seen," Ryan said. The dogs - which included Chihuahuas, Chinese crested dogs, Yorkies and papillons - were taken to the animal services center on Falkenburg Road, where they were fed, bathed and held as an investigation continues.

'It's so unfair'

Kock, who was arrested Wednesday and released on her own recognizance, was charged with 40 counts of improper confinement. On Thursday, she sobbed over the loss of her "babies," whom she said were happy, clean and healthy before they were taken away.

"I'm a wreck," she said, sitting on her bed in the home's living room. "I know it was too much, but still, it's so unfair. How could they be so unfair?"

Inside Kock's screened-in back porch was a row of plywood boxes that looked like top-loading washing machines lined with newspaper. There were also stacked metal cages. Investigators say pieces of carpet lay over the boxes, which could have suffocated the animals.

But Kock said the dogs often were free to roam the home, which is filled with antiques and figurines and framed photos of dogs and children, and the large fenced-in backyard, which overlooks a lake. One of the less social chihuahuas, whom she called Nemo, slept by her bed on a piece of faux fur.

Kock, who moved from her native Germany to the United States in 1994, said she was born to parents who were cruel. She always adored dogs as a child, but her parents wouldn't let her have one.

Adoption inquiries

After a string of bad or abusive relationships over the years, including two failed marriages, Kock said she had been dating a man for five years until they split up last week. That man, whom Kock did not name, owned 15 of the dogs and often brought more home against her wishes. Some of the puppies had future owners who were disappointed to learn they were confiscated, she said.

"I'm going to fight for my babies, and I'm going to fight for their babies," Kock said. "Is it too much to ask to get at least four of them back?"

Ryan said she hopes Kock gives up so investigators can close the case and find good homes for the dogs. Animal Services received several calls about adopting the dogs Thursday, but the dogs must stay in custody until the investigation ends. Kock's first court date is May 30.

"We have no desire to keep these animals in this shelter," Ryan said. "Hopefully, she will think better of the situation and not drag this out."

Emily Nipps can be reached at 813 269-5313 or nipps@sptimes.com.

[Last modified April 27, 2007, 06:55:44]


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