EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — El Dorado County Animal Services said two women pleaded guilty in an animal cruelty case involving multiple dogs that had their mouths taped shut to keep them quiet.

The women were identified as 48-year-old Jennifer Cowles and 71-year-old Adele Painter, who is Cowles’s mother. 

Animal Services said the case first began in October of 2020 when the two women were suspected of running a “puppy mill.” The county issued several citations, including ones for letting “horses run loose” and “neglecting to provide water for multiple animals.” 

In June of 2021, animal services removed eight dogs, five goats, a sheep and three horses from the property. Animal Services said they had conducted follow-up checks and found evidence of animal cruelty during a search.

According to the county, dogs were found with their mouths taped shut, and all of them had scarring and new wounds from their mouths being repeatedly taped shut. 

A horse on the property was also reportedly found starving and severely underweight. Animal Services said they found records of illegal puppy sales during their search. 

Another search was done in October of 2021 to check if Cowles and Painters, who had been arraigned by then, were following the conditions of their release. According to Animal Services, the women tried to hide dogs from them by putting two adult dogs in trash cans and dumping two litters of puppies in the woods behind the house.

“Thankfully, these individuals will no longer have animals in their possession,” said Henry Brzezinski, chief of El Dorado County Animal Services. “We’d like to express our gratitude to our agency partners who helped us bring resolution to the case.

Brzezinski said Cowles pleaded guilty to a felony count of animal cruelty, and Painter pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. Both of them were ordered by the court to not own any animals for 10 years. 

Animal Services said all the animals were placed in new homes or with animal welfare partners.

“The dogs and puppies removed in October of 2021 will be placed up for adoption once they have been cleared by the Animal Services veterinarian and are ready for adoption. Pictures and information regarding the animals, when ready for adoption, will be posted to El Dorado County Animal Services’ website,” the county said.

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