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Posted on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Warrants issued for Webster Township couple who had 48 animals removed from their home

By Heather Lockwood

A Webster Township man and woman, who had 48 animals removed from their home last June now face charges including abandonment and cruelty to 10 or more animals.

Matt Schaecher, supervisor of cruelty and rescue at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, said 48 animals — nine birds, two cats and 37 dogs — were removed from the couple’s home June 17. At the time, the Humane Society described said the animals were living in "horrendous conditions."

“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.

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

Donald Douglas Burkett, 61, and Kathe Elizabeth Tyson-Burkett, 61, 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.

If convicted the couple could each face up to six years in prison for the two felony charges.

Warrants were issued for both of them March 1, court records show. Neither of them have been arrested or arraigned, Schaecher said Wednesday.

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.

Schaecher said the Humane Society suspects the couple was breeding and selling dogs.

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.

Kathe and Donald Burkett’s address in court records is the same as the address of Stillwater Hill Kennels listed in, where Donald Burkett is listed as the owner. left a voicemail at the number Wednesday afternoon, but the phone call was not returned.

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


Ana Von

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

Does anybody know how did the hearing go yesterday??? I have not found anything on it. I have a traumatized pup from this breeder and I am very interested in seeing him and his wife get what they deserve.


Sun, Mar 20, 2011 : 3:37 a.m.

@ animallover3, I just know that puppy is as happy in your home as you are having him there. Thanks for adopting, May you be blessed!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

What kind of persons live with filth and feces? It seems that cats are cleaner then some humans.


Sun, Mar 20, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

Remember that big to do last summer with that guy who had over 150 dogs in his house? That house was torn down last autumn due to the fact that it was not possible to fix it because of the conditions that were present when the dogs were seized. I know the learning channel has a show called animal hoarders. Never saw it though.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

If it was a matter of hoarding, then they need psychiatric help. But, if they were selling puppies, as in breeding to sell, they need to be fined, and be no longer allowed to keep animals that are not spayed or neutered. Responsible breeders don't profit financially, the care and feeding, etc. precludes that.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

I adopted one of the whippet puppies born at the HVHS after the dogs were removed in June. It's sad reading about how the dogs were treated, but I am very happy to have one of the puppies in my home.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

Great Pamm! Please don't let them outside, cats seem to know their way back home. Fluffy was a barn cat when we lived with grandma and grandpa (when I was quite young) We moved some 8 miles away, Fluffy went missing, but not for long. he went back to grandma's. I'm so glad you adopted them and they are happy and healthy. Bless your heart!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

So it wasn't an animal hoarder case but just as bad a puppy mill? Greymom, do you know if they were all adopted<

Pamm in Dexter

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

I adopted the 2 cats mentioned in this story. They are healthy, spoiled & happy, living about 2 miles down the road from where they were rescued.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Thank You, thank you to the HVHS!! I hope the Burkett's are punished and spend the time. (up to 6 yrs. in prison doesn't seem long enough) I wonder how many they have euthanized themselves? I'm so glad Tinkerbell has been adopted and being the love of her owners life. Big Thank You to the the person that gave the anoymous tip.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

I didn't even know you could get that stuff legally. Wow The things you can get on line.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

A big thanks to the person who came forward and reported this to the Humane Society, and to the Humane Society for all of their work on behalf of animals.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:04 a.m.

Heather, do we know if all of the dogs survived the ordeal? If so were they adopted? Why are most animals so much nicer than some people?

Heather Lockwood

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

I asked Matt Schaecher, supervisor of cruelty and rescue at the Humane Society of Huron Valley, and he could not recall whether any of the animals had been euthanized due to health issues. But he did say the majority of the animals had been adopted. He said none of the animals seized in June remain at the humane society.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:01 a.m.

I just wanted to say how Thankful I am to the Humane Society for all they do- I was one of the very lucky ones to adopt one of those puppies ( Tinkerbell ), she has become my heart and I love her to pieces. I just don't understand why so many people feel the need to abuse animals, they only want unconditional love!! I pray that whomever hurt those two dogs that had to be put down and these folks get want Courts feel they should get. I have been involved with greyhound rescue for a number of years and it is the same for them- abused badly! All rescue groups keep up the good work!!!!!!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

3 years ago we adopted a rescue thru a rescue group and yes, the ones who are saved? Know they are in their forever homes. You are one of those angels who rescued and now is spoiling that dog rotten. Enjoy her.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

While I was writing your post came up! I'm thrilled that you were able to adopt one of the pups! TInkerbell? Perfect! I love that name. Bless you for taking a pup and giving her a good life.