Found with dogs, kennel operator charged with animal cruelty must pay new bail
Bail was doubled Wednesday for a kennel operator charged with animal cruelty who was caught March 7 with a dog in his car, violating the terms of his bail.
Garrett Mercado of Woodridge must post another $5,000 if he wants to be free before his trial on the original charges.
The case was brought after a January 2019 fire at a kennel Mercado operated on County Farm Road near Carol Stream killed 29 dogs. The fire revealed conditions indicating cruel and inhumane treatment, according to prosecutors.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
The terms of Mercado's bail, set in August 2019, forbade him from having contact with companion animals.
On March 7, a Darien police officer stopped Mercado's car on Lemont Road because he had an expired license plate and the officer saw a dog in the back seat.
The officer testified in DuPage County court Wednesday that Mercado apologized for the dog's barking and told her the animal was well-mannered.
Prosecutors also alleged that on Feb. 28, Mercado brought a stray dog, picked up at Cass and Frontage roads in Darien, to DuPage Animal Control in Wheaton. He had picked the dog up that day or the day before and fed and bathed it, they said.
An animal control worker testified that Mercado called the agency and was instructed to bring the dog in.
Mercado's attorney, Harry Smith, noted that no evidence was presented that Mercado had mistreated the dogs.
Judge Robert Miller said that while taking action to prevent a stray dog from being injured, it was not necessary for Mercado to drive to Wheaton to turn the animal in. He said Mercado could have called police to deal with the stray.
He also said Mercado had gambled that he wouldn't be discovered with the other dog, which prosecutors believe is one that Mercado was supposed to give up per court order last August.
"He knows, because he has been in court many times, there is this order. ... I'm not willing to roll the dice with him," Miller said.
Smith presented a letter from Mercado's mental-health therapist stating the therapist believes Mercado needs a therapy dog.
Miller did not rule on the request. He said he would need to see more evidence to be convinced that a therapy dog is the only treatment available that will help Mercado.
Mercado's next court date is April 2.