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Investigation ongoing into 60 cats' deaths near Farmington

A woman who took on rescuing at-risk animals was arrested after 60 dead cats and other neglected animals were uncovered at her Castle Rock rented house.

Caycee Bregel, 25, was taken into custody May 9, 2018, after Dakota County Sheriff's Office deputies executed a search warrant on the property located on 250th Street. She operated the nonprofit Minnesota Animal Rescue. Pending potential charges of animal cruelty, she was released from custody Friday, May 11.

"We take claims of animal abuse very seriously. Further investigation is needed to determine the cause of these cats' deaths and who is responsible," County Attorney James Backstrom said, explaining why charges have yet to be filed.

The Dakota County Sheriff's Office and the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley are investigating.

Authorities found dead animals in the house, a detached garage, a freezer and in shallow graves on the property after neighbors reported foul odors and a pig roaming the property just outside of Farmington. Authorities removed 40 live cats, five dogs, a pig and a rabbit from the house.

This month, Bregel had planned to open a newly leased space at the Farmington Mall to operate the animal rescue. She was also planning to become a partner at the fitness center set to open this month at the Farmington Mall. Recently, Bregel ran the Next Level Fitness located off Elm Street in downtown Farmington.

Different organizations

The case does not involved Last Hope. That animal rescue in Farmington was never involved with Minnesota Animal Rescue or people in the organization.

"Last Hope maintains a good reputation as a legitimate rescue group with genuine concern and love for cats and dogs in need of homes," said Bev Orr, founder and chair of Last Hope.

"We have been here for 33 years and so naturally it is not real clear as to who this group was or what there were, many may associate it with Last Hope," said Orr. "We were just in tears on the thought of what those poor creatures have gone through."

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said, "We will continue to work on this complex and important investigation with the County Attorney's Office and the Animal Humane Society."

The Humane Society has taken control of live animals found on this property.

Anyone with information should contact the Dakota County Sheriff's Office at 651-438-4700.