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A judge on Monday thwarted the former owner of Orphan Kanines’ attempt to have cases against her dismissed or moved out of the county.

Debra Gray was charged in May with 171 counts of animal cruelty and keeping animals in unsafe conditions after authorities rescued more than 100 animals from the business’s Caledonia location and two homes. In November, she picked up bail jumping and drug charges after she was accused of helping a veterinarian perform illegal surgeries on cats.

She was in court Monday on motions to dismiss the second case and to have both cases moved out of the county. Judge Wayne Marik denied both of her motions.

In total, Gray is charged with 180 misdemeanors. Each of the 171 charges related to animal cruelty and the seven bail jumping charges comes with the possibility of nine months in jail or on probation and a $10,000 fine. The two drug charges have a maximum sentence of six months in jail or on probation and a $500 fine.

The veterinarian, Mary Pratt, 65, of New Berlin, was charged with four misdemeanor counts of bail jumping. Each of those counts carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail or on probation and up to a $10,000 fine. If convicted, she faces up to 36 months in jail or on probation and/or up to $40,000 in fines.

Gray’s attorney asked for the bail jumping case to be dismissed because while she was prohibited from owning animals it did not prevent her from being around them. Attorney Alex Flynn argued Gray didn’t possess the animals during the surgeries, but prosecuting attorney Christopher Steenrod said Gray took an active role in assisting the veterinarian by scheduling the surgeries and handling the billing.

Marik agreed with Steenrod and said that there was probable cause in the case because the criminal complaint alleges that Gray participated in the surgical procedures by monitoring the vital signs of the cats during the surgeries, and she operated under Pratt’s direction during the surgeries.

“It’s not unreasonable to draw an inference from those facts that at some point in time, those animals were under the control of the defendant. Though she may not have been performing the procedure, she was doing something under the direction of the doctor during the surgeries….,” Marik said. “Might she have done that in a completely detached way so that she never actually exercised control over the animals that is entirely possible.”

Gray asked her trials be heard outside Racine County due to the extensive news coverage the cases have received. Marik believed she could have a fair trial here and denied her request, but still left the door open for the matter to be reviewed at a later date when jury selection started.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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