Jury trial in alleged puppy mill case to begin next month

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A Pierce County man accused of mistreating dogs at a home-based business was in court Tuesday, Sept. 26, for the final hearing before a jury trial begins next month. His first appearance on a new charge of misdemeanour bail jumping was postponed at the hearing pending appointment of a public defender.

Jury selection in the animal neglect case is set for Friday, Oct. 20, with the weeklong trial getting underway the following Monday. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Boles said Tuesday he anticipates 90 to 100 potential jurors will be called.

Authorities allege Stuart E. West and another man were seen with one or two dogs in Dunn County this summer in violation of bond terms prohibiting West from having contact with animals. A man told a Dunn County Sheriff's deputy that a person, later identified as West, inquired about purchasing land to start a dog kennel, according to a criminal complaint.

West, who operated Alma Bottom Pointing Labs, faces more than a hundred misdemeanor counts alleging animal mistreatment, failure to provide proper ventilation, shelter and food for animals. The home business was raided in April 2016, and 48 yellow Labradors were seized by authorities.

The prosecution indicated Tuesday it intends to show the jury an animal crate from the business, either by bringing it into the courtroom or putting it on a trailer outside the courthouse.