A man allegedly found with 12 dead dogs inside a stolen truck in Thousand Palms pleaded not guilty Monday to a dozen felony animal cruelty counts.

Douglas John Yates, 55, is also charged with one count of receiving stolen property in connection with his Feb. 15 arrest on Varner Road.

Yates, who’s out of custody on $10,000 bail, was initially contacted for the stolen vehicle investigation, after which deputies located the deceased dogs, according to sheriff’s Deputy Armando Munoz. How the dogs died was not disclosed.

Yates pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty in 2006 in connection with several emaciated dogs and cats he kept at a La Quinta property. According to a probation officer’s report, Yates was working as a contractor at a La Quinta rental home in 2003, and kept two dogs there while the homeowners were away, initially with their permission.

Animal Control officers were first called to the home on a report of two abandoned canines, and found “that both dogs had no food or water and feces was scattered over the floor.” Months later, the homeowners called Animal Control, alleging that Yates had also brought seven cats into the home without permission, according to the report, which says the animals were diagnosed with “emaciation, dehydration and malnutrition” by a veterinarian.

La Quinta Animal Control Officer Steve Alexander stated in the report that “he has only observed one other dog is such a severe malnourished and neglected condition as the defendant’s two dogs.” The officer also recommended that Yates “be prohibited from owning or caring for animals.”

The report noted several other past occasions when Animal Control officers cited Yates for housing an excessive number of animals.

Yates is slated to return to court April 11 for a felony settlement conference.

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