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Karen Plambeck, Accused of Hoarding Nearly 200 Dogs, Stands Trial


In Mercer County, the troubling case of Karen Plambeck has reached the courtroom, as she faces serious charges related to animal cruelty and neglect. Plambeck, a once-licensed dog breeder, is accused of hoarding nearly 200 dogs under abhorrent conditions at her property known as Royal Start Collies of KC Ranch. As the trial unfolds, it has exposed the dark underbelly of animal breeding and raised urgent questions about oversight and animal welfare.

Trial begins for Karen Plambeck, accused of hoarding nearly 200 dogs in deplorable conditions

Opening statements and initial witness testimonies commenced on Tuesday, marking the beginning of a crucial trial that has captivated animal welfare advocates and concerned citizens alike. Prosecutors and defense attorneys outlined their cases before the court, setting the stage for what promises to be a deeply revealing and emotionally charged legal battle.

Central to the case is the extensive body camera footage that Mercer County detectives acquired during a raid on Plambeck’s property in 2022. The harrowing video, presented during the trial, vividly showcased the squalid conditions in which the dogs were found. Small cages, some filled with mounds of feces, housed the animals in tightly confined spaces, with no sign of adequate care or cleanliness.

Detective Anthony Baugh, who provided more than an hour’s worth of body camera footage, gave a disturbing account of his findings. He described floors so thick with matted hair and waste that they were indistinguishable from the ground itself. “Every bucket that I looked in that was there for the dogs, had algae growing on it,” Baugh said. “Or there were bugs floating in it. I was concerned about every dog.”

As reported by WQAD News 8, Prosecutors have brought forward evidence that paints a grim picture of Plambeck’s operation at Royal Start Collies of KC Ranch. The prosecution aims to demonstrate that Plambeck’s actions, or lack thereof, resulted in significant suffering for the animals under her care. This case — now a bench trial after Plambeck waived her right to a jury trial — rests in the hands of Judge Matthew Durbin. Throughout the week, the court expects to hear from approximately nine to ten witnesses, which will likely extend the duration of the trial to its full scheduled length.

Karen Plambeck’s troubling history with animal cruelty

Karen Plambeck’s arrest in 2022 followed a raid on her property by authorities, revealing the severe conditions in which nearly 200 dogs lived. This was not the first time Plambeck has faced scrutiny, as court documents indicate she was charged with animal cruelty back in 2019. Despite this, she continued to operate her business until her arrest.

Amber Stephenson, a former animal rescue volunteer, recalled the shock and horror of participating in the rescue operation — per Our Quad Cities News. “I don’t think anybody could have ever been mentally prepared for what we saw,” she said. “You can see horrible hoarding situations on television, but it will never prepare you for what we saw.”

Stephenson’s testimony also shed light on the overwhelming response from the community to assist in the rehoming of the rescued dogs. However, she emphasized the ongoing animal crisis in the Quad Cities area, where shelters are struggling to cope with the influx of animals. Her call to action not only seeks accountability for the situation involving Plambeck but also urges the community to acknowledge and address the wider crisis at hand.

Plambeck, 60, faces 12 charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, with potential sentences ranging from one to three years in prison if convicted. Her trial is expected to conclude by Friday, March 1. The outcome will not only decide Plambeck’s future but could also signal a turning point in the fight against animal cruelty, highlighting the need for vigilant oversight and compassionate care for all creatures.


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