CALAIS — A Topsfield woman was charged last week with cruelty to animals in connection with a dog abuse case that began two years ago.

The criminal complaint against Margot Malpher was filed Aug. 28 in 4th District Court.

On Sept. 19, 2006, Maine Animal Welfare Program agent Chrissy Perry acting on a complaint went to Malpher’s home, but Malpher was in Massachusetts. Two days later the agent returned and 20 dogs and one cat were seized and taken to the Bangor Humane Society.

The dogs seized included two Cavalier King Charles spaniel-poodle hybrids, one Cavalier King Charles spaniel and one white standard poodle. The remaining dogs were black miniature poodles.

Several of the dogs had a black discharge coming from their ears. It reportedly took five groomers at the humane society a full weekend to clean the dogs.

Malpher went to court to demand that the dogs be returned to her.

During the trial, groomers described dogs so matted that it impeded the animals’ ability to move and to relieve themselves. One groomer testified that one dog’s hind legs were so badly caked with feces and urine that she gagged while trying to clean it.

After listening to arguments from the state and Malpher’s attorney at the time, Calais 4th District Court Judge John Romei ordered that the dogs be seized.

Malpher appealed the decision to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

In February, the Law Court agreed that the state had the right to seize the dogs from Malpher.

In a filing with the court Tuesday in the criminal animal abuse charge, Malpher cited a July 27, 1868, federal law, which she said raises questions about the state’s jurisdiction over the case.

In the more than 20-page filing, Malpher argues that the court misused her last name by writing it entirely in capital letters by using it “or the term ‘person’ as a corporation.”

In the often-rambling document, she also cites provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and of the U.S. Code defining Jurisdictional Immunities of Foreign States to claim that the Maine court is a foreign state and therefore has no jurisdiction over her case. As such, she demands that the case be dismissed.

If it is not dismissed, the case could be set for trial in Washington County Superior Court in the near future.