In what became one of the region's most highly publicized animal cruelty related cases, a jury cleared New York Mills dog-breeder Kathy Bauck of two felony charges last week. Bauck was found not guilty on her two most serious charges.

Bauck also faced three counts of torture and one count of animal cruelty and was found guilty of those four misdemeanor charges.

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The verdicts came March 24 after six hours of deliberation. Jurors heard closing arguments in the four and a half day trial.

Bauck's trial included testimony from veterinarians, law enforcement and Bauck herself. Jurors also heard from Bauck's accuser, Jason Smith, and watched undercover video footage Smith filmed as an employee at Bauck's breeding facility last spring. The footage, which was aired across the country, showed images of wounded, seizuring and emaciated dogs.

Bauck testified during the trial and said some of the injuries occurred after Smith placed dogs in the wrong pens, leading to fights. She said she reprimanded him several times during his two-month employment, which ended the same day a daily logbook went missing.

Bauck's husband and daughter are the owners of Pick of Litter Kennels as of April 2008. Bauck was the former owner of the facility and remains employed there.

The judge requested representatives from the Minnesota Humane Society to visit Pick of the Litter Kennels to ensure the safety of Bauck's animals.

A sentencing hearing will be held April 24 following recommendations from Otter Tail County Probation.