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Posted on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Hearing set for Webster Township man accused of keeping animals in unsanitary conditions

By Heather Lockwood


These whippet puppies were among dogs seized from a Webster Township couple's home.

Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Huron Valley

A court hearing has been scheduled next month for Donald Douglas Burkett, from whose Webster Township home dozens of animals were removed last year due to what the Humane Society of Huron Valley said were unsanitary conditions.

Burkett, 61, turned himself in to authorities within the last several days, Matt Schaecher, supervisor of cruelty and rescue at the humane society, told today. His preliminary hearing has been set for April 12.

Schaecher said 48 animals — nine birds, two cats and 37 dogs — were removed from the home of Donald Douglas Burkett and Kathe Elizabeth Tyson-Burkett, 61, June 17.

“The pens the dogs were living in were covered in feces,” there were “flies everywhere” and there was “no clean water for the dogs to drink,” Schaecher said. The animals also lacked proper veterinary care, he said.

Donald Douglas Burkett and Kathe Elizabeth Tyson-Burkett are each charged with one count of abandonment, cruelty to 10 or more animals and one count of possession of the controlled substance euthasol, court records show. Schaecher said euthasol is used to euthanize animals.

Warrants were issued for both of them March 1, court records show.

Humane Society of Huron Valley executive director Tanya Hilgendorf told in June that the animals were living among filth and feces in the home with two adults. She said the owners, who were present when investigators arrived, voluntarily signed over their rights to the animals.

Most of the dogs taken from the home were whippets, Schaecher said. There was also one skye terrier and two Italian greyhounds. An anonymous tip led to the removal of the animals from the home, he said.

Heather Lockwood is a reporter for Reach her at or follow her on Twitter.


Ana Von

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

Does anybody know how the case is coming along??? Please let me know. Thank you!


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Its great to see this issue was addressed. I'm SO HAPPY ! I actually got two dogs from this guy and was in shock of the conditions of the house and that the animals were kept. For those of you who dont know whippets they are a VERY gentle and loving breed. They are couch potatoes who live for love and affection. We were almost in tears as we left this house with our dogs knowing we left behind so many to live like that. Our dogs were absolutely full of worms when we got them. One actually puked wriggling worms on the way home, and when they were dewormed it looked like balls of spaghetti when they defecated. It was Shocking. Our girl is doing wonderful however the second puppy, a boy, died of a genetic heart problem within 2 months of bringing him home.. He actually owes us a puppy because he would not give our money back. Instead he said he would give us one from a future litter and thats all he could do. We were and still are very upset at this. I really tried to not support this person via getting puppies from him but I honestly felt that we were rescuing them. If left behind they would have been bred very young and I could not let them have a life like that. We took the puppies and did all we could to let the proper people know of the conditions of this place. If I recall correctly we emailed a shelter and got the message out to various breeders via whippet forums online. It has been a while since then and not being from Michigan I kind of lost contact with what was going on with this guy. Its FANTASTIC to see that people acted on the tips they got. GREAT WORK ! And the best of luck to all those dogs.

Ana Von

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

Hi, I also got a puppy from this's a girl, we named her Bella, and she is the love of my life. Here she is soo loved...and well treated. Well, I do want to ask you if the pup came very timid, afraid of everything, especially people? Bella came to us in such a way. We have been training her for fear and she has gotten much better. Did you experience anything like this with yours? (Although I am so sorry to hear that one passed away).


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 6:28 a.m.

Where did they get the euthasol? Just plain baffling: these people kept a hoard of animals yet they obviously understood that they'd end up killing some of them with the euthasol.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Apparently they were breeding the dogs, since they had puppies. The economic incentive for breeding could be overridden by a disincentive such as enforcing an expensive license for un-neutered animals. It is wonderful to live in a place like Ann Arbor where so many people know to adopt from a reputable shelter rather than give money to people who breed animals.


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

It is unregulated on the internet. You can get that thru on line pet supply places. Pretty scary if you ask me.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Those dogs need a lot of room to run. I know, I had one for 10 years. Glad to hear these guys are safe and sound. Would love to adopt one but have one two many right now.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Thanks to the tipster, and the puppies look so wonderful and clean now. Big Thank You to HVHS!!