Vikki Rene Kittles

aka Susan Dietrich

Imprisoned and starved 115 dogs

49 cats and 6 horses taken into protective custody

Astoria, OR

Cheyenne, WY

Apr. 16, 1993

May 2002

 Also known as Susan Dietrich, was convicted on 42 counts of Animal Neglect in February 1995 after a 5-week trial, months of delay and years of suffering for the animals she claimed to love. She was also sentenced to spend a total of 71 days in jail for contempt. And 4 months in jail for the animal neglect.

One of the veterinarians who testified against Kittles states "When the dog was autopsied there was absolutely no food in its system or ANY body fat - a sign of long and painful starvation".

Kittles was able to drag the case out almost two years through endless manipulation of people and the legal system. She was afforded nine different court-appointed lawyers - non-of whom met with her satisfaction, and went through six judges.

Josh Marquis, the District Attorney for Clatsop County stated, "Kittles is in my opinion one of the most dangerous, evil people I have ever encountered. She has enough psychosis to be exasperating, and enough cunning to bend the system to her will.

About 80 percent of the dogs rescued from Kittles could be placed in adoptive homes; the remainder either died while Kittles was awaiting trial and refused to allow them medical care or had to be euthanized.

Kittles has a long criminal record of assaultive conduct dating back to the late 60s. She surfaced in Broward Country Florida in the early 1980's when she was charged with various crimes after neighbors complained about the scores of dogs and two horses she kept in her mother's suburban house. When the Florida Sheriff's Department entered the house, they found it filled with feces, empty dog food sacks, and dead bodies of other dogs, in a back bedroom they found the two horses. Kittles claimed that she is the victim of a massive government conspiracy, tied to the Drug Enforcement Administration that sought to poison her and "her" dogs. She further claimed that her goal was to save animals from euthanasia, and that the authorities’ attempt to keep her from doing that, which are akin to religious persecution.

Kittles was eventually run out of one part of Florida only to surface in another with her aged mother, Jean Sullivan, who has not been seen since living in filth with her daughter in rural Manatee County, Florida. Kittles went on alone to Mississippi, where she convinced some good-hearted souls that she would "save" scores of dogs by taking them to a "no-kill" shelter in Colorado.

From Mississippi she fled to Colorado where she once again claimed persecution. She left a wake of well-meaning vets with unpaid bills and sponsors whom she turned on when they failed to give her everything she wanted. From Colorado in the late 80's she traveled to rural Washington, where a semi-truck delivered her and “her” digs. She was successful in conning some wealthy backers to send her $15,000, which she used to buy a school bus that became her home, and the prison for the 115 dogs, four cats, and two roosters. At her trial Kittles boasted the she had not let any of the dogs off the bus for weeks to prevent them from getting fleas. The dogs were, however, suffering from almost every other parasite, including hookworm, whipworm and in at least 16 cases, deadly heartworm.

After Kittles was arrested she threatened to sue anyone who touched "her" dogs, and convinced a judge to FORBID the state from getting medical treatment of any of the dogs. After several delays the trial was scheduled for August 1, 1994 but Kittles convinced another judge to let her live out of state - just across the rive, and when the trial date came, she refused to show up, requiring an extradition fight (she was less than 5 miles away) which took 3 months just to get her back to Oregon. Her trial finally began in January 1995.

She was released from jail in November 1995 with about 4 years on probation, during which time she is not allowed to possess animals. The courts felt they could have kept her in jail longer for her continuing refusal to be evaluated or treated for her animal addiction, but to continue jailing her would just inflict cruel and unusual punishment on her jailers and the Oregon taxpayers. One of her fellow inmates had begged to be sent on to the state woman's prison rather than suffer another night in a cell with Vickie Kittles.

 About 80% of the dogs taken from Kittles for the 42 counts of animal cruelty conviction, were able to be placed in adoptive homes; the remainder either died while Kittles was awaiting trial and refused to allow them medical care or had to be euthanized. The dog pictured here is one of those dogs named Lady.

Upon Kittles release from jail, she was ordered to get psychological counseling in an effort to break her of her animal collecting, however, she refused to cooperate with the state psychiatrists. That resulted in probation violations, which added months to her sentence, but eventually they dropped the counseling requirement.

The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3377, which makes aggravated animal abuse a felony and allows a court to care for and foster animals seized while a criminal charge is pending.

UPDATE 11/16/98: Vickie Kittles has surfaced in Wyoming and yes collecting animals again. Animal Control deals with Kittles at least once a month regarding complaints. Kittles knows the laws for Wyoming and manages to keep from going to jail. In March 2002 it was reported that Kittles has 40+ cats in a 12'x12' camper along with 3-4 dogs and 2 horses. The horses currently can't be located because Kittles finds kind hearted people and asks if she can park her camper (she doesn't tell them that it is full of animals) on their property for a couple of weeks and then after about 4 weeks they confront her about the animals and she becomes very belligerent, makes threats…then moves the trailer.

Update 6/19/2002: The Cheyenne, WY animal shelter received 49 of Kittles cats in May, 2002 due to her trespassing on someone’s property. Most of the cats were in fairly good shape, one was 15 years old. The Livestock Board took 6 horses because Kittles tried to move the horses to someone else’s land. Kittles had contacted a transporter to take the horses. After they were loaded onto his trailer, she asked him to take them to his property, he refused. He attempted to take them to the Livestock Board but couldn’t at that time so he tied them up and dropped them off by the side of the road. The Sheriff’s department gave Kittles until sundown (~8 pm.) to find a place for her horses. Kittles stopped people on the road asking them to take her horses. A citizen told these people about her and asked them not to take her horses. When 8pm came around – no one had taken her horses so the Sheriff confiscated them. The manager of the Livestock Board took possession and had a restraining order issued against Kittles. The horses were in marginal shape. One of the horses has strangles and was skinny; another had a birth defect and an earlier untreated injury that caused him to be crippled. Kittles can get the horses back if she pays $106 per day and she must have health papers, proof of a permanent residence, and the proof of where she is going to keep them. Kittles has some kittens and a dog in her car and the whereabouts of her other dogs are not known. She must show proof of rabies shots from a licensed veterinarian at her court appearance on July 19th.

References:

The Cheyenne Animal Shelter

Clatsop County, Oregon Animal Control Officer Tommie Brunick

Manatee County, Florida Sheriff's Department Detective Ned Foy

Profile of an Animal Abuser by Pat Forgey, a Freelance journalist for The Oregonian of Portland, Oregon

ARKonline

Dr. Randall Lockwood, The Humane Society of the United States - First Strike Conference

Animal Sheltering Magazine

Dr. Gary Patronek, Public Health Report - Jan/Feb 1999 - Hoarding of Animals