Friday, February 13, 2004

Dozens of dogs under care

Among 128 police rescued

By Travis Gettys
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILLIAMSTOWN - Dozens of dogs found last month at two alleged "puppy mills" are being nursed back to health at the Grant County Animal Shelter.

"They're in much better health than they were when they first got here," said Wanda Bedard, Grant County animal control officer. "But a lot of them still need medical care."

A grand jury indicted the owners of the kennels Wednesday on 33 counts. A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 25. Additional charges could be filed in Pendleton and Harrison counties.

Ken Sunbom faces 20 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of theft and two counts of receiving stolen property. His ex-wife, Tanya Moukedden Sunbom, was charged with six counts of theft, two counts of receiving stolen property and with being a persistent felony offender.

Police brought 128 dogs to the shelter after they were discovered last month in squalid conditions at kennels operated by the pair.

Workers neutered all the dogs and updated their shots.

Each dog had a tracking microchip implanted under its skin.

Twelve of the stolen dogs have been claimed and returned to their original owners, Bedard said.

Bill Stewart's dog, Sam, disappeared last April. His collar was found at the kennel operated by Moukedden, and she and Sunbom are charged with stealing him.

"I know we'll never see the dog again," Stewart said. "I'd like to ask them in court, 'Where did you get my dog and from who?'"

Sam was out of Stewart's sight for only a moment, and he thinks someone had been watching and waiting to steal the collie, because his home sits about 1,000 feet from a dead-end road.

"How in the devil did this happen?" Stewart said. "Who was this close to me to where they could get him?"

He suspects that more people are involved with stealing dogs throughout the area.

"Just because there's indictments doesn't mean this thing's over," said Wayne Heightchew, a victim's advocate for the Grant County commonwealth's attorney.


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