Hardwood woman can keep animals until trial

DIANNE LUND- JOHNSON

IRON MOUNTAIN — A Hardwood woman facing animal cruelty and kennel violation charges in Dickinson County District Court pleaded guilty Thursday to violating her bond after she said she misunderstood a condition prohibiting her from having animals.

However, Judge Christopher Ninomiya agreed to amend 54-year-old Dianne Marie Lund-Johnson’s bond to allow her to keep all animals she currently has now until her newly scheduled jury trial March 12 and 13. She will be sentenced on the bond violation at some point after the trial.

Lund-Johnson had five alpacas, two ponies, two horses, four cats, four dogs, one bird and 45 chickens when she wasn’t supposed to have any, Dickinson County Assistant Prosecutor Alex Sieminski said.

But she did cooperate with regular checks from the animal control officer who found the animals well cared for, Sieminski added.

Lund-Johnson told the court she had misunderstood a letter from the prosecutor’s office that would have allowed her to keep certain animals if she accepted a plea deal and the terms were ordered by a judge.

Ninomiya previously had rejected the plea deal term permitting her to care for any animals, but decided to change the bond based on no objection from the prosecutor’s office and Lund-Johnson’s assertion she would continue cooperating with regular and random checks by the animal control officer.

Lund-Johnson faces abandoning or cruelty to two or three animals, a one-year misdemeanor; kennel facility violations, a three-month misdemeanor; and animals-burial, a 90-day misdemeanor.

Dickinson County deputies and the animal control officer on April 10, 2017, went to Ride Outs Road between Foster City and Hardwood on a complaint of animal carcasses next to the road in the ditch, according to the criminal complaint.

They discovered the remains of several dogs that had been euthanized by a veterinarian, along with a dead alpaca and chickens, sheriff’s officials said.

Deputies found the carcasses had come from a nearby residence where Lund-Johnson was operating an animal rescue shelter called Noah’s Nordic Ark.

Lund-Johnson said the animals had died during the winter, so she placed their remains in an area where her other dogs wouldn’t disturb them until she could properly bury them in the spring.

Deputies also determined Lund-Johnson was in violation of a county ordinance prohibiting residents from having more than four dogs unless they have a kennel license. She had nine dogs, and had not renewed her kennel license since 2014, the criminal complaint stated.

Sheriff’s officials said they took five of the dogs, which Lund-Johnson voluntarily gave up, to the Almost Home Animal Shelter later that week.

At least three of the dogs had been in kennels that either were too small or in dark locations with little human interaction, according to the complaint.

Nikki Younk can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 41, or nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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