GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman who investigators say had 27 dogs living in her minivan has been found guilty of a felony animal cruelty charge.

Heather Nicole Alexander, 43, faces up to seven years in prison when she returns to Kent County Circuit Court for sentencing next month. She remains free on bond.

Alexander was charged in April 2022 with abandoning or cruelty to 25 or more animals. Her jury trial got underway on Monday. Closing arguments were held on Wednesday and the jury returned its verdict after about 90 minutes of deliberations.

The investigation began in March 2022 when the dogs, mostly chihuahuas, were discovered in Alexander’s minivan, which was in a business parking lot off Alpine Avenue NW near 4 Mile Road in Alpine Township. According to investigators, the dogs were in cages that were stacked atop one another, with up to five dogs per cage.

Photos taken by Kent County Animal Control show 27 dogs in cages in a minivan. (March 25, 2022)

Defense attorney Charles Ayres said Alexander had been caring for the dogs for the prior eight months and when the dogs were taken by authorities, “they were all in a state of good health.’’

A judge awarded the 27 dogs to the Kent County Animal Shelter. They were offered up for adoption.