CLINTON — Two Clinton residents facing numerous animal neglect-related charges had their initial court appearances in Clinton County District Court on Thursday morning.

Thomas J. Mauk, 34, and Teresa A. Muhs, 33, faced a judge Thursday in the wake of charges stemming from the discovery of nine dogs, one of which was deceased, at 422 Fourth Ave. North on Feb. 21.

The short appearances by the pair set pre-trial conferences for both, with Mauk slated to return to the Clinton County Courthouse on March 27 at 9:15 a.m., and Muhs set to appear again on March 29 at 1:15 p.m.

Mauk faces a total of 29 charges, including six charges of animal neglect involving death or serious injury (a serious misdemeanor) and three charges of animal neglect not involving death or serious injury (a simple misdemeanor). Aside from those nine charges filed by the State of Iowa, the city of Clinton has also charged Mauk with nine counts of failure to license a dog, nine counts of failure to vaccinate against rabies, one count of failure to report a dog bite, and one count of failure to possess a breeding permit.

"Mauk admitted he has neglected the basic needs of all nine dogs and because of his failure to properly care for his dogs they have been forced to endure severe pain," a court affidavit alleges.

Muhs has been charged with nine counts of animal neglect not involving death or serious injury in the aftermath of the discovery of the dogs in late February.

The surviving eight dogs are currently receiving treatment and rehabilitation at the Clinton Humane Society. Officials have praised the efforts of countless residents throughout the community who are continuing to donate time and money to ensure the facility is stocked up on food, toys, bedding, cleaning supplies, and other essential items for the dogs after their removal from the home. Authorities reported that the residence did not have heat, water, or electricity.

The court affidavit states that Mauk confirmed the home had not had working utilities since November 2017, when he and Muhs stopped living in the house. Though they no longer lived there, Mauk claimed to visit the house regularly to care for the dogs.

However, when the dogs were removed from the home on Feb. 21, a majority of them displayed signs of debilitating injuries. Five of the dogs with injuries had wounds at different stages of healing, allegedly showing the injuries occurred over an extended period of time. All eight dogs were treated with antibiotics and pain medication. The dogs found with wounds requiring additional medical attention were treated by the licensed veterinarian.

The dogs removed from the home were all also found to be covered in feces, with several also covered in blood. On Feb. 25 after executing a search warrant at the house, Clinton police officers found feces on the floor in every room throughout the residence. Officers observed what was believed to be dried blood on the walls, floors and appliances. Dog dishes were found empty except one containing a small amount of water.

No dog food was found in any of the dog dishes or the empty food bags.

Mauk said that in the past, one of his dogs suffered bites to its ears, front forelegs and head, and that he treated the injuries himself. He described another dog's injuries to its foreleg, snout and mid-chest and that he treated the injuries himself. Another dog's injuries to its face and legs also were treated by Mauk.

On Feb. 26, Mauk admitted to being an unlicensed dog breeder for roughly five years, possessing approximately 40 dogs in that timespan, profiting from the breeding and advertising the sale of the dogs' offspring.

The incident has prompted animal rights activists throughout the Gateway area to shed light on the issue, with many actually attending Mauk and Muhs' court appearances on Thursday. Beforehand, they gathered on the courthouse lawn, many brandishing signs and symbols advocating for animal rights. Groups also converged on the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines this week in an attempt to speak with state legislators regarding Iowa animal protection laws.

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