Widow of Georgia dog trainer indicted on 22 counts of animal cruelty

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Widow of dog trainer indicted on 22 counts of animal cruelty

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The widow of a northwest Georgia man who killed himself after he was implicated in a multistate animal cruelty investigation has been indicted.

A Whitfield County grand jury charged Morgan Kinder, 26, with six counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 16 counts of cruelty to animals, the Dalton Daily Citizen-News reported. The charges are related to an investigation opened in February, when accusations of animal cruelty led to an arrest in Cleveland, Tennessee, and a search in Dalton.

Kinder's late husband, 46-year-old Stephen Kinder, operated a dog training business in Cleveland but housed many of the animals at the couple’s Georgia home, officials said. Authorities were sent first to the business after one of his clients, Abigail Eastburn of Atlanta, said her Great Dane returned from Kinder’s seven-week program 30 pounds lighter.

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Eastburn told WSB in February her dog was vomiting and had diarrhea when he was sent home.

When Dalton police executed a search warrant Feb. 7 at the Kinders’ home on Mattie Street, they found 16 dogs, two baby goats, two turtles and a snake in the residence, and nine ducks in the backyard. They also found a dead turtle and several dead snakes.

Stephen Kinder, who was out of jail on bond following his Tennessee arrest, was scheduled to meet with Dalton investigators the same day of the search. He was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the parking lot of an American Legion post in Cleveland, according to the Cleveland Daily Banner.

It is unclear if Morgan Kinder was involved in her husband’s business, but Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said she was aware of the neglect.

"Regardless of her involvement, she knew what was going on in the house," Frazier previously told AJC.com.

The aggravated animal cruelty charges are related to the deaths of the turtle and five snakes, the Daily Citizen-News reported. The other animals were living in deplorable conditions, the newspaper reported, with the 16 dogs kept in kennels and many covered in their own waste.

The dogs did not have adequate access to food and water, the grand jury charged.

Morgan Kinder was previously released from jail on bond. She is scheduled for arraignment on Aug. 19, according to the Dalton paper.

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