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Lakefield pet salon owner charged with five counts of animal cruelty after reported death of multiple pets

Martens, a local pet salon owner, faces multiple counts of animal cruelty, ranging from the felony to misdemeanor level.

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A fatal shooting occurred in the Bedrock Bar parking lot early Tuesday morning. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com

LAKEFIELD — A Lakefield woman has been issued a summons to appear in court on multiple counts of animal cruelty, ranging from felony to misdemeanor. Happy Tails Pet Salon owner Amanda Lee Martens, 37, faces two counts of felony animal cruelty for reported neglect that resulted in the death of an animal, as well as one count of gross misdemeanor animal cruelty for neglect resulting in substantial bodily harm of an animal.

Martens also faces two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

The charges stem from the March 16, 2021 report of animal neglect from pet owners who had reportedly hired Martens to take care of their pets at their residence in rural Jackson County while they were on a two-week vacation.

According to the complaint, Martens was supposed to visit the residence regularly to give the animals food and water, and let the dog outside. During this time period, Martens assured the family that she had been visiting the animals and that they were fine. However, security footage from the pet owner’s home reportedly showed that Martens had not been to the property to check on the animals until the day before the family was scheduled to return. While still on vacation, the pet owner stated they received a call from Martens that their beagle had died, despite being in good health before the trip.

Martens later admitted via text messages that she had not been on the property for the majority of the time that the owners were gone and refunded their money, according to the report.

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Upon arriving home, the owners stated to a Jackson County deputy that there were feces and urine throughout the house, and their cat was found lying in his litter box near death. Vet records indicated the cat had fluid in his lungs, and had to be put down.

Another family member had left three dogs in Martens’ care during the vacation, who all reportedly showed signs of neglect. The dogs had been brought to Martens’ business to care for, and after returning, one dog had to be taken to the vet for an extended period of time to be treated for kidney problems the vet believed were caused by dehydration. The dog died while still in the vet’s care.

The two remaining dogs showed signs of dehydration and kennel rash, respectively. The owner stated that when she went to pick up the dogs, all three were covered in urine, and the blankets in their crates were soaked with it.

The deputy in charge of this case made several attempts to speak with Martens. All were unsuccessful. She is scheduled to make her initial court appearance May 18. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine for each of the felony charges and one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine for the gross misdemeanor charge.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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