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Lewis & Clark Humane Society, The HSUS and Prosecuting Attorney Respond to Sentencing of Convicted Animal Abuser

Lewis & Clark Humane Society, The Humane Society of the United States and Jefferson County attorney Matthew Johnson issued the following statements in response to the sentence of Mike Chilinski, who was convicted of animal cruelty due to inhumane conditions at his puppy mill. He was sentenced to serve 30 years in custody, with 25 years suspended, to forfeit all the rescued dogs and barred from owning animals for 30 years. Chilinski bred malamutes for profit, and when responders rescued the dogs in October 2011, they were suffering from severe neglect. Lewis & Clark Humane Society provided care for the dogs throughout the duration of the case, and The HSUS has already spent $377,000 on the investigation, rescue and assisting with the costs of care.

“This sentence should put other substandard breeders on alert that this kind of abuse clearly will not be tolerated by the community or the courts,” said Gina Wiest, executive director of Lewis & Clark Humane Society. “In my 15 years working in animal welfare, I’ve never seen such a horrendous case, and I will never forget the day we rescued those dogs and the condition they were in. The system worked; the dogs had they day in court and were vindicated. We thank our friends at The Humane Society of the United States, without whose help– logistical and financial–we would have never been able to have done this rescue, and we stand together in hoping nothing like this ever happens again in Montana.”

“This was one of the most egregious cases I’ve ever been involved with,” said Adam Parascandola, director of animal cruelty response for The HSUS. Parascandola travelled from Maryland to testify at the sentencing. “The Humane Society of the United States is proud to partner with the excellent staff at the Lewis & Clark Humane Society, who did an outstanding job of caring for these animals in the last 14 months. This case is a good example of why we need stronger oversight of large-scale breeding facilities.”

“I am very pleased with the sentence which includes a Department of Corrections term of 30 years with 25 suspended as well as the forfeiture of all of the dogs,” said Jefferson County attorney Matthew Johnson, who prosecuted the case. “I am likewise humbly grateful for the assistance of the Lewis & Clark Humane Society and The Humane Society of the United States. The rescue and successful prosecution likely could not have been accomplished without these two organizations’ assistance, due to the enormity of the case and the costs involved. Now, 14 months later, these dogs will be able to finally be placed in permanent homes.”

Chilinski was an American Kennel Club-inspected breeder who claimed his AKC inspections demonstrated that conditions on his property were adequate. The HSUS released a report in July linking numerous AKC breeders to puppy mills and animal cruelty convictions. The report showed that the AKC regularly opposes laws designed to crack down on animal cruelty at puppy mills.

The dogs will start to be placed in permanent homes and with rescue facilities in the next several weeks. Potential adopters will need to fill out an application and participate in a screening process. Please call 442-1660 for more information.

Media Contacts:

Lewis & Clark - Liz Harrison or Gina Wiest, 406-442-1660 or 805-698-8109
The HSUS – Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org