150+ Collies: Justice Served

3 Collies turned into 150+ Collies, an Ownership Case, a Bankruptcy Case and 5 State Criminal Charges

One of the most significant cases in Texas animal law got justice today for over 150 Collies. This is the case in which an ownership dispute about 3 Collies turned into 150+ Collies.

In 2013, Kara Kaufman was deceived by Dr. Elaine Kmiec (optometrist) who used a fake name to get 3 Collies. She used a pseudonym because she had given up 51 Collies in a cruelty surrender in 2007. Kara learned her true identity and sued Kmiec to get the dogs back. She got a Judgment in the Justice Court for the return of the dogs but Kmiec refused even when the police confronted her with a writ of execution. On the eve of getting a receiver appointed, Kmiec filed bankruptcy.

In the bankruptcy case, Kara’s 3 Collies were returned to her and they were in terrible shape. This along with further deceit by Kmiec resulted in the judge ordering that all the dogs noted in her disclosures (35) be transferred to the trustee. The seizure done on August 29, 2014 resulted in 97 Collies being removed from Kmiec’s property. A second seizure a few days later was done because she had hidden some of the dogs. 19 more were taken and 6 cats. Then the dogs started having puppies, and another seizure was done in June of 2015 despite an agreed order in the federal court that Kmiec would not own or possess any animals for 2 years while she got counseling. Kara’s 3 dogs had turned into over 150+ dogs (and some cats).

The dogs were in horrific conditions living in squalor. Every dog had giardia which is from dogs being in feces, and they were malnourished with skin conditions, hair loss and a host of other maladies. In May of 2015, the Harris County D.A.’s office accepted 4 charges of animal cruelty against Kmiec.

Today, January 26, 2016, justice was served. Kmiec pleaded guilty and was convicted on two of the animal cruelty charges. Because she had no prior convictions, she was eligible for probation which she received. There are numerous conditions of her probation (the judgment is not yet available) but included is that she cannot have animals during the probation period. She is serving one year of probation on each conviction to run concurrently.

These convictions bring to close the four criminal animal cruelty charges (Class A misdemeanors that could result in up to 1 year in jail each) in this case (the other 2 will be dismissed). Kmiec has a felony charge for fabricating evidence that was not affected by this plea deal.

It has been a long time coming, but justice was served today. The system worked to punish someone who is guilty of animal cruelty and while no jail time will be served, this was a true victory for these beautiful Collies and cats that were subjected to unthinkable conditions. It is also a victory for Kara Kaufman whose unwavering tenacity paid off and for Houston Collie Rescue who did an unbelievable job in providing for every dog. All got the care and love they were missing and were adopted to caring families all over the country. Kudos to Harris County for vigorously pursuing this deserving case and getting these convictions.

This is a real Happy Tail in one of the most groundbreaking cases in animal law not just in Texas but in the entire U.S. Woof!

Zandra Anderson

(Ms. Anderson represented Kara Kaufman in the state civil court proceedings and has assisted in the bankruptcy case. Mr. Famose Garner represents Kara Kaufman and Houston Collie Rescue in the bankruptcy case. Ms. Rhonda Chandler is the attorney for the Trustee in Bankruptcy in this case.)

Reprinted from 2016 Texas Dog Lawyer/Texas Dog Commission.