‘I’m sorry’: Woman who had 27 dogs in minivan sentenced

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman who was found guilty of animal cruelty after she was found with 27 dogs living in her minivan has been sentenced.

A jury found Heather Nicole Alexander guilty of a charge of abandoning or cruelty to 25 or more animals in October. She was sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation.

Her probation restricts her from having more than one animal at any time, and that animal must be spayed or neutered. She is not allowed to be involved in animal breeding. Alexander also has to pay nearly $2,000 in fees. She was sentenced to two days in jail but she has already served it.

Woman convicted of animal cruelty after 27 dogs found in van

The charges stem from March 2022, when the dogs, mostly chihuahuas, were discovered in Alexander’s minivan, which was in a business parking lot off Alpine Avenue NW near 4 Mile Road in Alpine Township. According to investigators, the dogs were in cages that were stacked atop one another, with up to five dogs per cage.

Photos taken by Kent County Animal Control show 27 dogs in cages in a minivan. (March 25, 2022)
Photos taken by Kent County Animal Control show 27 dogs in cages in a minivan. (March 25, 2022)

Defense attorney Charles Ayres said Alexander had been caring for the dogs for the prior eight months and when the dogs were taken by authorities, “they were all in a state of good health.’’ He emphasized that again at sentencing.

“I would just like to say I’m sorry for the whole situation, I feel terrible,” said Alexander at sentencing. “I found myself in circumstances beyond my control and I did the best I could with the cards that I was dealt.”

“I don’t doubt and never doubted that Miss Alexander is particularly fond of animals, and dogs in particular,” the judge said. “I never doubted that here, but the bottom line here is that a jury found that she violated the law, and that she violated the law, not just any old law, but a 7-year felony.”

A judge previously awarded the 27 dogs to the Kent County Animal Shelter. They were offered up for adoption.

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