Kalispell Man Pleads Not Guilty to Animal Cruelty

By Beacon Staff

A retired Kalispell doctor accused of abandoning 12 puppies at a dump site in Somers pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony aggravated cruelty to animals.

John L. Heine, 74, was arraigned in Flathead County District Court. The puppies, only two of which survived, were found Aug. 21 in a garbage bag at a dump site.

Heine, a retired obstetrician who breeds dogs, has said he tried to drown the puppies because they were an unwanted litter and he feared they might contract parvovirus after two puppies he had shipped from Texas died from the disease.

Shelter officials said the dogs, which were less than a day old, showed no sign of parvo.

Dale Bartlett, The Humane Society’s deputy manager of animal cruelty issues, called for the case to be fully prosecuted and for Heine to be sentenced to jail if convicted.

“We are concerned about this case not only for its extreme callous cruelty behind the alleged act, but also because Mr. Heine, as a dog breeder, has custody over many dogs,” Bartlett wrote in a letter to Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan.

Heine’s trial has been scheduled for the February jury term. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

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