Lucy Kagan, left, target of an animal cruelty probe, was confronted yesterday by Kelly Sampels, of West Maui, about the whereabouts of her three toy poodle puppies. Sampels said she saw a portable kennel on TV news she thought was hers, and was waiting at the Humane Society to confront Kagan.

Kagan denies
animal abuse as
evidence is gathered

A Maui woman flies to Oahu
to find out if her puppies are safe

Shaking with anger, Kelly Sampels confronted animal breeder Lucy Kagan in the Hawaiian Humane Society parking lot yesterday and demanded to know what happened to her three toy poodle puppies.

Sampels flew to Honolulu from Maui to find out whether the puppies are among the 27 dogs seized Wednesday from Kagan's Hawaii Kai townhouse.

People trying to claim dogs from the society was one of many developments yesterday in the investigation into animal cruelty allegations against Kagan.

Kagan denied mistreating animals in her care, while Humane Society investigators searched her townhouse.

At the Humane Society on Waialae Avenue, Sampels said Kagan, whom she knew as Aaron Kagan, told her during the argument and a later cell phone conversation that the dogs had been sold and that a "check was in the mail."

Sampels said she and Kagan had bred their adult dogs in December and that Kagan had been trying to sell the poodle puppies for the last three weeks. She had not checked out the conditions in Kagan's home, Sampels said.

"She (Kagan) seemed like a nice person and understood breeding," Sampels said.

Toy poodle owner Kelly Sampels, of West Maui, showed a handwritten contract yesterday made with accused animal abuser Lucy Kagan. She had just confronted Kagan on the whereabouts and condition of her dog and offspring that Kagan was contracted to breed and sell.

Then Sampels was watching the television news on Wednesday night and saw the roaches, feces and crowded conditions for the animals in Kagan's townhouse.

"Kabloom. My jaw was like ..." she said, showing how her jaw dropped.

"I was sick. I haven't slept in two days. I'm having nightmares," Sampels said. "I just want to get my dogs. If anybody purchased them in the last three weeks, contact me and let me know my puppies are in a good home. They're not sleeping in feces," Sampels pleaded.

Humane Society spokeswoman Eve Holt said two of the 27 dogs seized Wednesday were returned yesterday to their owner, who presented sufficient documentation of ownership.

Sampels' claim is still being reviewed to see if any of the dogs belong to her, Holt said.

The investigators, who were accompanied by police and had a search warrant, would not say what was taken after a little more than 90 minutes of searching Kagan's Kawaihae Place townhouse.

Kagan, 50, took pictures of the investigators with a disposable camera as the search was going on and denied allegations that her animals were mistreated.

"It's like they (the Humane Society) are on a witch hunt. They want to ruin a person's life," Kagan said. "They're taking discs of my son's homework. It's ridiculous what they're doing."

Bryan Windisch, manager of field services for the society, said the investigators are collecting evidence of possible animal cruelty and would forward their findings to the prosecutor's office in the next two weeks.

The investigation began after firefighters responded to a stove fire in Kagan's townhouse Wednesday and discovered the 27 dogs and two cats living in squalid conditions. The townhouse reeked of animal waste and was littered with trash.

Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

As she talked with reporters gathered outside her townhouse, Kagan tried to portray herself as a victim.

"No one's helped me," she said. "I'm a single mom with a son with cerebral palsy."

"The media is blowing everything out of proportion," she added. "It's a frenzy."

Kagan said she normally does not keep 27 dogs at her home. She said she is taking care of about 10 of the dogs for friends.

She said she does not live at the home and that a tenant normally acts as a caretaker for the animals. The tenant has not been able to take care of the dogs recently, Kagan said, so she has been feeding them daily.

As the search was going on, Norman Texeira, 70, who described himself as Kagan's boss, waited in a black Lincoln Town Car.

"They (the Humane Society) don't have a case. They have egg on their face," Texeira said. He said he was hiring a lawyer to fight any possible charges.

"The animals are fed right. We have several vets that take care of them," he said. "We didn't do it to crook anybody."

Hawaiian Humane Society


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