Buxton’s police chief and animal welfare workers said Friday they are outraged by what they see as lenient punishment for a husband and wife who were charged with abusing and neglecting the dogs they bred at their kennel.

John and Heidi Frasca, who owned J’aime Kennel in Buxton, will have to complete 60 hours of community service and keep no more than four animals during the next 17 months to have the five animal-cruelty charges against them dismissed.

Each of the Frascas was charged with 25 counts of animal cruelty in 2007 after the state seized about 250 dogs from the kennel. Under an agreement with prosecutors, they each pleaded no contest last week to five of the charges. The other counts were dropped.

Buxton Police Chief Michael Grovo said at a news conference Friday that he expected the case to be decided by a jury. He said he was baffled that the York County District Attorney’s Office didn’t consult him about the plea deal before the Frascas’ hearing March 17 in York County Superior Court.

“I am outraged and disappointed that I was never notified,” he said.

District Attorney Kathryn Slattery was on vacation this week and couldn’t be reached for comment, but issued a statement Thursday about the agreement. She said the deferral of the charges “allows continued monitoring to ensure the defendants’ compliance.”

If they violate the terms of the deal, she said, the Frascas could face as much as a year in jail for each of the charges.

“The combined criminal and civil sanctions imposed on them have been substantial,” Slattery said, referring also to the foreclosure of their property.

The Frascas now live in Massachusetts, which is where they fled after the raid on their kennel and where they were arrested.

“They didn’t lose nearly as much as these animals lost,” said Monique Kramer, a veterinarian who helped care for the dogs after the kennel was seized. Speaking at Friday’s news conference at the Buxton Police Department, Kramer described the dogs as having exposed muscle, “blown” ligaments and broken limbs.

Norma Worley, former director of the state’s animal welfare program, said sheltering and treating the seized animals, whose diseases included scabies and giardia, cost the state $460,000.

She had hoped that the Frascas would be ordered to pay restitution and be banned for life from having animals. Their actual punishment, she said, “was a travesty of justice.”

“In 17 months, it will all go away just like it never happened,” said Worley, who fears the outcome could set a legal precedent for animal-cruelty cases.

Grovo said nothing more can be done about the Frascas’ case, but he still hopes to talk about it with the District Attorney’s Office “so it doesn’t happen again.”

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]