Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Jack Mark Ziniuk, 42 animal cruelty

Sun Valley, CA

Los Angeles County

1986 Lancaster, CA
Jack Mark Ziniuk, 44 operating a kennel without a license

Lancaster, CA

Los Angeles County

December 1988 Anza, CA
Jack Ziniuk, 64 horse struck in the head with a sledgehammer, decapitated

Anza, CA

Riverside County

April 19, 2009  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved
  animal cruelty 106 dogs, 30 cats, 3 squirrels, 1 horse

About 30 people attended an auction at the Agoura Animal Shelter where animals seized at a reported Lancaster "puppymill" were sold to the highest bidder.

The basset pups are the offspring of mature dogs who were taken from a residence-breeding facility operated by Jack Ziniuk of Lancaster, who was charged with zoning violations and operating a kennel without a license, officials said.

They are part of a weeklong auction of Ziniuk's animals - 106 dogs, 30 cats and three squirrels - at the Agoura shelter and other shelters in Los Angeles County, said Frank Turner, district supervisor. Most of the puppies were born at the shelter after the facility received the pregnant female dogs and cats, Turner said, and all are pedigreed dogs.

When a puppy mill is put out of business, local shelters must keep the animals for a certain period of time in an already overcrowded shelter system, said Hans Berg, Los Angeles deputy district attorney. Many of the other animals, who might normally be kept on, are destroyed to make room for the mill puppies, he said.

Animal control officers confiscated the animals in December, Berg said. Karen Caesar, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control, said Ziniuk was believed to have been breeding dogs and cats in and around his residence and complaints about unsanitary conditions and zoning violations resulted in his arrest.

Update 5/6/89: Jack Mark Ziniuk was convicted in Municipal Court of illegally maintaining a kennel in his house, illegally keeping a squirrel and not providing proper food, water and sanitary conditions for animals.

A June 7 sentencing hearing was set by Judge William H. Seelicke for Ziniuk, who faces a maximum sentence of one year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.

Ziniuk was acquitted of two counts of cruelty to animals, said Lancaster Deputy District Attorney Hans F. Berg.

"The evidence was clear in this case that Mr. Ziniuk had an on-going illegal kennel in his house," Berg said. "(Seelicke) said the verdict reflected the deplorable conditions in which the animals existed."

Ziniuk, 44, owner of Jack's Kindness Shop, was charged in January after animal control officials confiscated the animals from his house, which is located adjacent to a kennel he operates in the 43800 block of 60th Street West.

Several of the animals required medical attention and at least nine either died or had to be destroyed because of illness or injury, Berg said.

About 25 of the animals were not caged and five or six people were living at the house, Berg said.

Ziniuk, who acted as his own legal counsel during the six-day trial, said he had the animals inside the house because of the severe winter cold and denied that they were kept in deplorable conditions.  "I love those animals, and I hate to be separated from them," Ziniuk said. "I would never do anything to hurt any of my animals."

Ziniuk argued that the animals' cages were cleaned daily and that the animals were provided with adequate food and water and attention.

Ziniuk's kennel, which houses about 65 dogs, was allowed to continue operating after the animals inside the house were confiscated, officials said.

Berg said he will ask for an order allowing animal control officials to search Ziniuk's property any time to ensure he will not violate the law again.

Berg said he will also ask for custody time in the case because of previous brushes Ziniuk has had with the law regarding his care of animals.  "He's a second offender and an egregious offender," Berg said. "He's trying to have animals without being able to give them adequate care."

Ziniuk was fined $425 in 1986 after pleading guilty to one count of cruelty to animals in connection with a kennel he operated in Sun Valley, Berg said.

Update 4/20/09:  On Sunday April 19, 2009, Riverside County Sheriff's Deputies from the Hemet station responded to the report of dogs attacking a horse at an address in the 59300 block of Upper Tule Road in Anza. Riverside County Animal Control officers also responded to the address.

The reporting party, Jack Ziniuk, indicated that his horse was badly injured by attacking dogs, and as a result was suffering from seizures and needed to be "put down."

Upon arrival, the deputies determined the horse was dead and did not appear to have been injured by dogs. Animal Control officers arrived shortly thereafter and confirmed the finding's of the deputies. Further investigation revealed that the horse had been struck numerous times in the head with a sledgehammer and then decapitated with a chainsaw.

The deputies located and seized the chainsaw and sledgehammer. They also found the horse's head which had been placed into a "dog-run" as a source of food for the owner's dogs.

Animal Control took custody of the animal remains and will arrange for a necropsy to determine the cause of death and the status of the horse at the time of decapitation.

  (Photo courtesy of Riverside County Sheriff's Department)  Jack Ziniuk, 64 yrs, was taken into custody and booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center for 597 PC - Cruelty to Animals.

The Sheriff's Department requests that anyone that may have information about this case contact Sgt. Bill Roach at the Hemet Sheriff's Station at (951-791-3409).

Update 4/21/09:  A Southern California man was arrested for investigation of animal cruelty after the decapitated head of a bludgeoned horse was found being fed to his dogs, sheriff's officials said.

Riverside County Animal Services Department spokesman John Welsh described the animal as a roughly 1,000-pound white-grayish mare.

Animal Services Department Cmdr. Rita Gutierrez said the horse did not appear to have received proper veterinary care prior to its death.

Phillip Thomas, who lives in a trailer on Ziniuk's sprawling property and helps him with chores, said the horse had been suffering and Ziniuk was trying to put it out of its misery.

The horse was given hay after not having been fed for days and collapsed after overeating, Thomas said.

Thomas saw Ziniuk struggle under the weight of a sledgehammer as he clumsily battered the animal's head.  "Jack was trying to hit the horse over the head with the sledgehammer, but he did not have the strength to do this," Thomas said. "I could see the horse's tail. It was just flapping up and down."

Ziniuk eventually gave up and asked another tenant on his property to fetch a chain saw "to sever its head while it was still alive," Thomas said.

Thomas said he was leaving the property to go grocery shopping when he heard the chain saw roar to life behind him.

Update 4/23/09:  Inside a dark, cramped trailer with food and indescribable garbage just laying about, Jack Ziniuk slept. Joining him inside the trailer were around 20 dogs, cats and birds.


(Photo courtesy of KESQ News Channel 3)

The two employees here say it all started off well. But, with age, Ziniuk couldn't afford to pay for this place. The dogs went hungry.

When a horse of his suffered malnutrition, sheriff's deputies charged Ziniuk with trying to put the horse down with a sledgehammer.

"He didn't even have enough strength to get that accomplished for one. Two, the way he was wielding it, he missed a couple of times. It missed the body. You could hear the thumps. I knew it was alive at this point because I could still see its tail clearly moving. It was terrible. When he realized that he wasn't going to be able to do it that way, he told John, go get the chainsaw," said employee Phillip Thomas.

We asked Thomas, "If you worked here, why didn't you tell the cops?"  He answered, "Well, animal control has been here. They've know all this stuff. They've been trying to shut him down for so long. I don't know the legalities of that, what held this up for so long.

We asked Thomas another question, "So, you would see Animal Control but they did nothing?"  Thomas' answer was, "Nothing. They came here many times. They wrote him tickets that he was never intending to pay anyway."

Stephanie Weyls now has 13 of Ziniuk's dogs. She says many of these breeding dogs were found in various states of neglect.  Weyls said, "I received a call from a friend of mine in town that has a veterinary supply place and she told me the situation about Jack that he had been arrested and that the authorities, the animal control, were telling them to disperse the animals and find them safe places to go."

Anza residents came in and rescued many of Ziniuk's dogs. Now, animal control wants to take them to a county shelter where they may be euthanized if deemed "unadoptable."

"They allow people like Jack to continue to make puppies and abuse his animals and breed indiscriminately. The small private rescue that care about animals are the ones that are taking the hits," said Weyls.

Animal control says people took these dogs illegally and anybody who has them is breaking the law. But, Weyls and others say they will not hand over these dogs.  Animal control confronted Weyls and told her may forward information to the District Attorney's office for possible theft charges.


Los Angeles Daily News

Riverside County Sheriff's Department

KESQ News Channel 3

Long Beach Press-Telegram