Groomer charged with 9 more counts of animal cruelty in pet strangling case

    Michelle Burt (KEPR-TV News photo)

    PASCO, Wash. - Prosecutors are bringing nine additional charges of animal cruelty against the owner of a Tri-Cities pet grooming business who is accused of abusing and strangling customers' pets.

    The additional charges were brought Tuesday against Michelle Burt in Franklin County Superior Court. She was previously charged with three counts of animal cruelty, and is now facing a total of 12 charges.

    Burt owns two pet grooming businesses called Paw Spa in Pasco and West Richland.

    Police say at least one dog and a cat died due to Burt's actions at her Pasco location. Former employees told police that Burt said she controlled animals by cutting off their air supply.

    Court documents say several other animals required veterinary visits for broken bones and injuries, including chemical burns from a flea bath given without the owner's permission.

    Burt previously pleaded not guilty to the first three charges, and she has been ordered to stay away from all pets while awaiting her trial.

    The judge at Tuesday's hearing set dates for Burt's next three court appearances, but her attorney said he'll be moving to separate each of the 12 counts against her in the future.

    Until that happens, she's next scheduled to appear on April 16, with a May 29 trial date.

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