The former director of a local non-profit pet rescue organization charged in an animal cruelty case has entered a plea.

70-year-old Sharen Anne Kizer of Howell was originally charged with abandoning/cruelty to 10 or more animals. In 53rd District Court Tuesday, she pleaded no contest to a reduced one-year misdemeanor charge of animal neglect/abuse of 2-3 animals. She was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $53,596 and will be sentenced on July 16th, 2019.

Kizer was charged as a result of violations found at Last Chance Rescue in Howell Township, due to alleged unsanitary shelter conditions and a lack of animal care. Livingston County Animal Control had received complaints about the facility’s conditions and care of animals. Last December, Animal Control officers found alleged violations that prompted them to seize about 120 animals. Animal Control Director Aimee Orn previously told WHMI when on scene, there were great concerns for the safety and well-being of the animals and they were not comfortable leaving them there.

The plea deal reached stipulates Kizer cannot operate, work or volunteer for any shelter or any other animal care business during her delayed sentence or probation period. She must forfeit all other animals currently in care of Animal Control, if not already done, and cannot foster or possess animals. Kizer’s attorney has maintained that some of the animals seized were not owned by Kizer or Last Chance Rescue and they should have been returned to their rightful owners immediately. Records show the court will allow the defendant to possess animals /pets that were in the home at the time of seizure, which were Kizer’s four personal dogs.

Meanwhile, a former employee of the rescue was also charged in a separate felony animal cruelty case. Valerie Cunnings pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of abandoning animals and was sentenced to six months of probation and must pay $4,417 restitution. A review is scheduled January 24th, 2019. (JM)