Dayna Bell, accused puppy drowner, to argue dogs were "commercial animals," not pets

Bell faces 14 felony animals cruelty charges.
Bell faces 14 felony animals cruelty charges.

Dog breeder Dayna Bell is accused of doing horrible things -- for instance, drowning puppies by putting them in buckets of water, with another weighted bucket on top to prevent their escape.

But, facing 14 felony and two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, Bell and her attorney, Bob Miller, plan to use technicalities to contest the charges before she goes to trial.

According to a Pioneer Press report, Bell, owner of Bell Kennels and Farm in the Northfield area, is using the statutory distinction between "pets" and "commercial animals" to make a case that since commercial animals are subject to different rules, she shouldn't face felony charges. Miller told the PiPress he also plans to challenge the warrant authorities used to search Bell's kennels in September 2011.

Statute defines "pets" as such (emphasis mine): "a nonhuman mammal, bird, or reptile impounded or held for breeding, or possessed by, cared for, or controlled by a person for the present or future enjoyment of that person or another."

Miller's two motions will be heard by a judge in November, with her case set for trial early next year, the PiPress reports.

According to WCCO, when officers with the Dakota County Sheriff's Department searched Bell's kennels last year, they found 10 small-breed dogs in a freezer chest. The dogs appeared to be wet, suggesting they'd drown before being frozen.

Bell, 61, told authorities she didn't know how the dogs got in the freezer, but admitted to drowning puppies in a bucket. Reports suggest some of the dogs may have been sick or injured when they died.

Bell denies allegations that she did horrible things to puppies.
Bell denies allegations that she did horrible things to puppies.

Three former employees at Bell Kennels and Farm told authorities they saw Bell, a nearly 40-year veteran of the dog breeding business, drown puppies by tying a cinder block to their necks and then throwing them into a swimming pool. Another eyewitness said they saw Bell break a dog's neck. But Bell's attorney says the allegations were made by employees who have an axe to grind because they were fired.

One day after being charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty in April, Bell posted $50,000 bail and was back at work. Asked by WCCO why her former employees would make such allegations, Bell said, "Apparently they did what they could do to make such terrible, scathing lies that they want to see what they can do to put me out of a job."

"If's a terrible, vindictive retaliation and the scathing lies are awful, awful," she added.

At the time, Bell's husband said business at Bell Kennels and Farm had dropped about 90 percent since the allegations against his wife were first made public the previous fall.

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