BUXTON, Maine — All charges have been officially dropped against John and Heidi Frasca, whose Buxton kennel was the subject of a high-profile 2007 raid amid allegations of rampant mistreatment of dogs.
While some police and animal welfare advocates have long decried the Frascas’ punishment in the case — 30 hours of community service each — as too lenient, the Federation of Maine Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners lauded the development on the organization’s Facebook page Wednesday.
“They lost everything they owned because of this case, and they have experienced a living hell for the last six years,” the Federation post read, in part. “We hope this begins to give them closure and helps their family continue to heal from this horrific experience.”
The seizure of about 250 dogs from the site by law enforcement agents and humane society volunteers grabbed headlines five years ago, with police saying they had received repeated complaints about the facility and responders describing the rescue of hundreds of sickly and traumatized animals.
Medical care, shelter and treatment for the dogs, as well as more than 100 puppies born to them in the weeks after the raid, cost the state more than $450,000, according to Maine animal welfare officials.
The Frascas fled to Massachusetts after the incident, and were there in 2009 when they were brought back to Maine to face animal cruelty charges related to their Buxton site.
The case against the Frascas and their J’aime Kennel became a lightning rod in the ongoing debate in Maine over the regulation of dog breeding and the proposed ban on so-called “puppy mills.” The nearby town of Scarborough has in recent months been considering ordinance language proposed to block the retail sale of dogs from large breeders.
But on Wednesday, the York County District Attorney’s office confirmed all charges have been dropped against the Frascas, in compliance with a plea deal the couple agreed to in March 2011.
According to the agreement, the Frascas would plead guilty to five counts of animal cruelty out of the 25 levied in relation to the kennel raid, and they would each complete 30 hours of community service. In addition, if the Frascas were not charged with any other crimes for the subsequent 17 months, all charges against them reportedly would be dropped.
That 17-month period has concluded with no further infractions by the Frascas, the York County District Attorney’s office confirmed Wednesday, and all charges have been dropped.
The plea bargain was controversial at the time of its announcement, with animal welfare advocates and Buxton Police Chief Michael Grovo coming out publicly against the agreement as too lenient.
Phone calls and emails placed to Grovo, Heidi Frasca, the Federation of Maine Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners, the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland and J.P. DeGrinney, attorney for the Frascas, were not immediately returned.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. The Frascas were sentenced to serve 30 hours of community service each, not 30 months each.