Jury trial set for woman whose 18 French bulldogs were found in Sidney house fire

Crews battle 2 house fires in Sidney

A jury will decide the fate of a Sidney woman accused of animal cruelty after her 18 French bulldogs were allegedly found living in filthy conditions when crews responded to a fire at her home in March.

The first of two pretrial conference hearings was Friday for owner Grazyna Hanna Latocha, 68, in Sidney Municipal Court.

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A final pretrial conference is July 16, and a judge set aside time Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 for her jury trial, according to Shelby County court records.

One dog did not survive the March 26 fire at Latocha’s home in the 200 block of North Walnut Street, and a judge recently ruled that the remaining 17 dogs would not be returned to her at this time. They remain in the custody of the Shelby County Dog Warden.

A judge also granted a motion allowing the county to provide general medical care for the dogs. Previously, only emergency medical treatment was allowed, and “some of the issues the dogs had didn’t fall under an emergency,” Chief Deputy James Frye of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said.

Firefighters reported to deputies they found the dogs in the basement of the burning house, kept in wire cages stacked on top of each other without the plastic tray. Some of the dogs had callouses on their paw pads from the wires, and feces and urine was running down the cages, Frye previously said.

Firefighters rescued them by opening the cages and passing them out one-by-one as fast as they could while the fire — which caused an estimated $217,000 in damage — burned on the floor above them.

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