The city has dramatically reduced the number of abuse charges in the Pitter Patter Pet Store case.
Originally, Marinda Parks faced more than 200 charges after Rapid City animal-control officers seized pets along with a number of dead animals from her yet-to-be-opened store.
At a Monday afternoon court hearing, it was revealed the city is now charging her with one count of Maintenance of Places Where Kept, 27 counts of Inhumane Treatment and 27 counts of Care and Treatment violations — a total of 55 charges.
Her attorney, Timothy Rensch, pleaded not guilty to the charges and said he would challenge probable cause. Parks, 39, previously faced more than 100 counts on each charge — nearly one for each animal in her care, including dogs, kittens, guppies and a chinchilla that were kept in a small warehouse-like storefront on the 2400 block of Mount Rushmore Road when animal-control authorities seized the animals on Aug. 16.
But in an amended complaint filed last week, Assistant City Attorney Kinsely Groote mentions only a fraction of the animals that investigators listed on their mid-August reports. Gone are the chinchilla, guppies and a turtle swimming in fecal-filled aquarium. Now the prosecution will try to prove charges of abuse against fewer creatures, including pit-bull puppies and poodles, kittens, hamsters, a finch and a catfish.
"Probable cause for this complaint is based upon law enforcement and animal control reports attached hereto and incorporated herein," Groote's complaint reads. "In such cases made and provided for against the peace and dignity of the people of Rapid City."
In August after tips from the public, animal investigators seized over 100 animals from the unopened Pitter Patter Pet Store, which had moved with its live inventory from the Rushmore Mall in July.
Investigators filed reports documenting animal abuse, including shivering puppies and kittens without water living in a trough-like structure. Parks, through her attorney, has denied the allegations and suggested she is an animal lover who has been falsely accused.
There may also soon be a new judge in the case. Groote told Judge Todd Hyronimus, who was filling in for Judge Scott Bogue, that she had sent an informal letter requesting Bogue recuse himself. No reason was given, but Rensch said he understood there could be a change in the judge overseeing the case.
A status hearing is set to be scheduled by the clerk of courts.