Breeder: 'I take good care of my animals'

July 31, 2008 8:12:33 PM PDT
A Santa Cruz Mountains dog breeder accused of abusing his animals is under arrest, and despite all evidence to the contrary, he claims there was no animal abuse going on.

Robert Brunette is being held at the Santa Cruz County Jail after being arrested Thursday morning at Los Gatos High School. Brunette is charged with a total of 13 counts of animal abuse and neglect. ABC7's Karina Rusk spoke briefly with him.

When Brunette came out of the Los Gatos police department, ABC7's Karina Rusk asked him how long he had been a dog breeder. He said 20 years. After hesitating, he calmly answered other questions.

"Do you think you were treating those animals okay?" asked Rusk.

"Yeah, all my animals are fine. I always take good care of my animals," responded Brunette.

Animal Services has taken 40 dogs they say were abused and neglected off of Brunette's Boulder Creek property. They also found evidence of several dead dogs. This was Brunette's explanation for those animals.

"Well I had a lot of my neighbors poison some of my dogs," said Brunette.

Animal Services says they are looking into that allegation. For now, the DA's office is charging Brunette with eight felony counts of animal abuse and neglect and five misdemeanor counts.

"There's a lot of animals that have suffered at the hands of this gentlemen. It was difficult to figure out which constituted felonies which constituted misdemeanors and which charges we could and couldn't file. It was difficult," said Todd Stosuy, a county animal control officer.

Animal Services also learned something new during ABC7's brief exchange with Brunette. At first he didn't understand our question, but then offered his rationale for the six dog skulls found on his property.

"Oh yeah, those are some of the ones I wanted to remember," said Brunette.

The manager of the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Center says he's not sure what to make of Robert Brunette but he is confident his agency has rescued dozens of dogs from a life of suffering.

"It's hard to characterize anybody when you investigate an animal cruelty case of what their demeanor is. That's a hard one to really put a nail on the head," said Henry Brzezinsky, general manager of Santa Cruz County Animal Control.

Brunette is being held on $100,000 bail and will likely be in court on Monday, August 4th.


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