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CHOTEAU - The retrial of a former Alaska couple charged with 181 counts of animal cruelty is set for May 27 in Anaconda.

Teton County Justice of the Peace Pete Howard on Friday moved the trial far from Shelby and the Canadian border, where authorities discovered the dehydrated, weak, sick and cold animals in the back of a trailer on Oct. 31.

Dog breeders Jon Harman and Athena Lethcoe-Harman were arrested the next day. The dogs - mostly collies - and cats were cared for at the fairgrounds near Shelby until last week, when they were moved to Great Falls.

The couple's first trial in January lasted seven days but ended in a mistrial when a six-person Justice Court jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.

Howard said he will rule Monday on the scope of the trial, whether he will allow defense testimony via the Internet and if the jury can travel to Great Falls to see the dogs.

The Harmans' attorney, Scott Albers, said Lethcoe-Harman's rapport with the animals represents the "heart and soul" of their case.

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