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’Worse than anyone could have imagined’: US dog breeder starved her animals so badly they turned to cannibalism

Julie Bernet was given probation after 11 counts of animal cruelty; two more incidents – including one just months later – led to a judge jailing her for a year on Tuesday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 3:55am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 7:12am

A dog seen trotting down a path with another dog’s head in its mouth led Johnson County, Kansas authorities to a horrible sight.

Eleven dead and dying animals were found on property owned by Julie Bernet, 49, a breeder of expensive German shepherds imported from Europe.

That was in 2015; in March 2017, a Johnson County judge found her guilty of 11 counts of animal cruelty. She was sentenced to probation.

But just a few months after that conviction she was charged in another animal abuse case. Then another. On Tuesday, the judge revoked her probation and ordered her to serve a year in jail.

“The conditions these animals were kept in was disturbing and horrific,” Assistant District Attorney Jason Covington said after Tuesday’s probation revocation hearing.

Covington said that Bernet’s breeding business ultimately failed, the electricity to her property was turned off, and the animals were essentially left unattended.

Neighbours raised concerns about dogs on the property, but it wasn’t until the animal carrying the head was spotted and law enforcement intervened that people learned that conditions were “worse than anyone could have imagined”, according to Covington.

Law enforcement officers found starving dogs without proper shelter, food, or access to water in below freezing conditions.

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He said authorities found three dead dogs on the property in the 21300 block of Nall Avenue in southern Johnson County. At least one of the dogs had been partially eaten by other dogs on the property.

Last May, less than two months after her conviction, authorities in Morgan County, Missouri, charged her with 10 counts of animal abuse.

And in January she was arrested at a St. Louis casino on drug charges. She did not tell authorities that there was a dog in her vehicle in the parking lot.

It was about seven hours later that the dog was found shivering in the sub-freezing weather, Covington said. She was charged in that case with animal abandonment.

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Although it was not part of Tuesday’s court hearing, Bernet was previously prosecuted in federal court in a strange case in which she and another woman hired a man to attack them.

They were assaulted and then falsely claimed to police that they were attacked by masked intruders.

The women were suing a former employer for sexual harassment and concocted the scheme in an effort to link the attack to the company they were suing.

Another man was hired to call Bernet from the business, and she then reported to police that she had received a threatening phone call. She intended for police to trace the call back to the business, but the plan fell apart because the man used his own mobile phone to make the call and not the business phone.