RAPID CITY, SD — A plea deal has been reached in a case involving a Rapid City pet store where 36 animals were found dead and more than 100 animals were seized in August 2018.
Marinda Parks, 38, owner of Pitter Patter Pet Store, initially faced 102 counts of violation of animal care and treatment, 102 counts of inhumane treatment of an animal and one count of violation of maintenance of premises where animals are kept.
The City of Rapid City reduced the charges against Parks in October from more than 200 to just 55 counts. On Tuesday, the City released a statement that a plea agreement has been reached so the seized animals can be adopted.
“In order to allow the Humane Society of the Black Hills to find good homes for these animals as soon as possible, the city needed to consider a plea deal,” Assistant City Attorney Kinsley Groote said. “It solves the case today rather than going to trial and waiting for a potentially lengthy appeal process. It could have gone on for another year maybe. It’s better for the animals to have a purpose today.” today.
Parks was paying $30 a day to have seized animals cared for at the Humane Society of the Black Hills, and by November those fees were over $70,000.
The agreement requires Parks to relinquish all animals and property involved in the case, except for two personal pets. She will also not be allowed to sell animals, except livestock, for two years, obtain a municipal kennel license for five years, or own, operate, be employed by, or have any interest in a pet store. , commercial breeding or similar. operation for the next two years.
Parks will also plead guilty to three of the counts against her, but the resulting 30 days in jail on each count will be suspended under the terms of the agreement.
Parks originally owned a pet store at the Rushmore Mall, but decided to open Pitter Patter after that business did not do well. She was in the process of opening the new location on Mt. Rushmore Road when an anonymous tip to Animal Services led to a wellness check.
Authorities searched the building the next morning and were immediately struck by a putrid smell. They found dead animals, several animals crammed into dirty cages, feces and empty food and water bowls.
“The smell was a big deal,” said Kelsey Harty, a Rapid City animal services and enforcement officer. “We saw a few dead animals. It was quite chaotic that morning.
Friends of Parks argued that the conditions weren’t that bad.
“Every fish is labeled as animal neglect, animal cruelty, that sort of thing,” said John Gibeau, a friend of Parks. “It’s an animal, it’s important, but it’s a goldfish.”
Kinsley Groote says the plea deal ultimately ended the situation and is in the animals’ best interests.
“In the end, justice was served with the terms of the plea agreement and the settlement agreement,” Groote said.