Crime

Starving dogs turned to cannibalism. Their Johnson County owner is jailed — again

See the harsh conditions that led Missouri breeders’ starving dogs to cannibalism (warning graphic content)

Videos taken by Maris Ewing on property in Morgan County, Mo., where 11 dogs, two horses and a goat were found and rescued in January 2018. The animals allegedly were kept by Julie Bernet, a former dog breeder in Johnson County, Kan.
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Videos taken by Maris Ewing on property in Morgan County, Mo., where 11 dogs, two horses and a goat were found and rescued in January 2018. The animals allegedly were kept by Julie Bernet, a former dog breeder in Johnson County, Kan.

A dog seen trotting down a path with another dog's head in its mouth led Johnson County authorities to a horrible site.

Eleven dead and dying animals were found on property owned by Julie Bernet, a Johnson County breeder of expensive German shepherds imported from Europe, and she was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

That was in 2015, and in March 2017, a Johnson County judge found her guilty of 11 counts of animal cruelty. She was sentenced to probation.

But on Tuesday, the judge revoked her probation and ordered Bernet, 49, to serve a year in jail.

Johnson County prosecutors had moved to revoke probation after Bernet was subsequently charged in another animal abuse case less than two months after her Johnson County conviction.

"The conditions these animals were kept in was disturbing and horrific," Assistant District Attorney Jason Covington said after Tuesday's probation revocation hearing.

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Covington said that Bernet's breeding business ultimately failed, the electricity to her property was turned off, and the animals were essentially left unattended.

Neighbors raised concerns about dogs on the property, but it wasn't until the dog carrying the head was spotted and law enforcement intervened that people learned that conditions were "worse than anyone could have imagined," according to Covington.

Law enforcement officers found starving dogs without proper shelter, food or access to water in below-freezing conditions.

He said authorities found three dead dogs on the property in the 21300 block of Nall Avenue in southern Johnson County. At least one of the dogs had been partially eaten by other dogs on the property.

Last May, less than two months after her conviction, authorities in Morgan County, Mo., arrested her on 10 alleged counts of animal abuse.

However, the only charge filed in that case has since been dismissed, said Bernet's attorney, John Picerno.

Picerno said the charge was dismissed after a veterinarian told officials that injuries found on the animal were not the result of abuse or neglect.

In January, Bernet was arrested at a St. Louis casino but didn't tell authorities that there was a dog in her vehicle in the parking lot.

It was about seven hours later that the dog was found shivering in the subfreezing weather, Covington said.

She was arrested then on the Johnson County probation violation warrant but has not been charged with anything related to the dog, according to Picerno.

Picerno said that Tuesday's probation revocation order was based on technical violations such as not paying fees and reporting to her probation officer, not any new animal abuse charges.

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Julie Bernet, a would-be breeder of expensive dogs imported from Europe, has been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. Facebook


Although it was not part of Tuesday's court hearing, Bernet was previously prosecuted in federal court in a strange case in which she and another woman hired a man to attack them.

They were assaulted and then falsely claimed to police that they were attacked by masked intruders.

The women were suing a former employer for sexual harassment and concocted the scheme in an effort to link the attack to the company they were suing.

Another man was hired to call Bernet from the business, and she then reported to police that she had received a threatening phone call.

She intended for police to trace the call back to the business, but the plan fell apart because the man used his own cellphone to make the call and not the business phone.

Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers most wanted fugitives.

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