Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Puppy Mills Busts in NC

Large dogs seized from Wilson breeding operation

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Dogs seized from Wilson breeders
Dogs seized from Wilson breeders
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A Wilson couple was charged Thursday with animal cruelty after more than two dozen large-breed dogs were seized from a breeding operation, authorities said.
The raid at a property on Evansdale Road is the second time this month that law enforcement officers and animal welfare advocates have seized dogs and puppies from a breeding operation in eastern North Carolina.
Wilson County deputies removed 28 Great Danes, Mastiffs and Dobermans from outdoor kennels behind a mobile home, with the assistance of the Humane Society of the U.S., the SPCA of Wake County and the Great Dane Rescue Alliance.
"What led to this was just years of complaints from consumers who were getting sick puppies," said Kim Alboum, state director of the Humane Society.
Alboum said state law doesn’t require inspections of breeding operations, and complaints weren’t enough for authorities to step in until animal cruelty could be demonstrated.
"What we saw in this particular facility were a lot of dogs with old and new wounds," she said. "We saw a lot of infection – staph, mange – but many of the dogs were just so, they just seemed broken."
Breeders Cyndi and Joe Williams were each charged with one count of animal cruelty, and authorities said more charges are possible. Their court date was set for Oct. 8.

Local rescue groups have taken in many of the breeding dogs the breeders have gotten rid of over the years, Alboum said.
"(One) dog's mother was surrendered four weeks ago, and she was in absolutely horrendous condition," she said. "When she was surrendered, (her puppy) was only 10 days old."
Veterinarians checked the dogs before 16 of the animals were sent to the SPCA of Wake County and the other 12 to the Great Dane Rescue Alliance for further care and housing.
Because the dogs were seized, their future could be tied up in court. None of the dogs will be put up for adoption until the legal issues are resolved, officials said.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Puppy mill owners found guilty of animal cruelty

Puppy mill owners found guilty of animal cruelty

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Dog taken from puppy mill
Dog taken from puppy mill
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A Wilmington couple arrested this month on animal cruelty charges pleaded guilty Friday to dozens of charges, the Brunswick County District Attorney's Office.

Amelia and Andrew Millis pleaded guilty to 24 counts each of Class I cruelty to animal charges and were placed on probation for 36 months.

In addition, they are banned for life from possessing any animal. Both will be subject to frequent warrantless searches for compliance, the district attorney's office said.

On Aug. 3, Brunswick County sheriff's deputies and animal rights advocates rescued more than 150 dogs, more than two dozen birds and one cat from a double-wide trailer with no electricity in Leland.

Most of the remaining dogs were sent to SPCAs in Guilford and Mecklenburg counties, but the SPCA of Wake County is expected to put 39 of the dogs taken from the puppy mill up for adoption.
Anyone interested in adopting an animal should contact the group directly.


Monday, August 6, 2012

NC might just have the right man in Legislation, GO Jason Saine

A North Carolina state lawmaker says he plans to introduce a bill next year that would regulate puppy mills.
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Focal Point: "Puppies and Politics"Focal Point: 'Puppies and Politics'

First-term Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, said Monday that he and Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, have been discussing the matter for the past couple of weeks but that a bust Friday at an alleged puppy mill in Leland prompted him to speak publicly about it.

Brunswick County sheriff's deputies and animal rights advocates rescued 160 dogs, 26 birds and one cat in the raid of the breeding operation inside a doublewide trailer without electricity.
Many of the dogs were matted, caked in filth, covered in fleas, and in need of veterinary care. Some have broken jaws from severe tooth decay.

"No animal should be treated that way," Saine said. "We're in a place in society now where I think, certainly, we can have some reasonable regulation that prevents instances like that happening."
According to the Humane Society of the United States, about half of all states have some type of regulation on commercial breeders.

Animal rights advocates have been trying for years – most recently in 2010 – to get similar regulations in North Carolina, but they have gotten nowhere.

Kim Alboum, director of the Humane Society's state chapter, says that there are regulations for breeders who sell to pet stores or to research laboratories but there is no oversight regarding sales to the general public.

Ninety percent of breeders, she says, sell to the general public through newspaper advertisements and the Internet.

"There are no state standards for breeders. They don't even have to register. Federal laws don't cover most of them, either," she said. "We have to wait until these animals are literally suffering and dying before we can go in. We could avoid so much pain for the animals if we just had minimum standards for them."

Over the past year, there have been nine puppy mill busts in the state – more than any other state in the country, according to Melanie Kahn, national director of the Humane Society's campaign to stop puppy mills.

"Almost every product sold in this country is subject to some sort of regulation, but somehow dog breeding is not," she said.

But dog breeders and groups that represent their interests say that puppy mill regulations could have unintended consequences for legitimate and responsible dog breeders.

The North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs recently opposed proposed federal regulations on Internet dog sales. Many of its arguments are similar to their reasons for opposing puppy mill regulations.

For example, the federation says, regulations could create unreasonable financial hardships for home-based hobby breeders, who don't generate the same level of income as commercial breeders.
"It would threaten the future of a vast number of small, responsible dog owners and breeders, as well as have long-term implications on our agriculture industry," NCFDC President Peter Lunding said.
Larry Sorenson, of Clayton, has bred and shown dachshunds for 35 years and has been recognized by the American Kennel Club as a breeder of merit. He also says that a poorly written law could end up hurting good breeders.

"We're not opposed to reasonable, enforceable laws," he said. "The problem is in the drafting of the laws – definitions. What's the definition of a puppy mill situation? Is it a number? Is it a procedure?"
A clearer definition of what constitutes a puppy mill, he said, would make him more comfortable with regulations.

He adds that recent busts prove that the state's current animal cruelty laws are strong enough.
"We have had a number of convictions now that people are finding these out, and they are being brought to the light and being eliminated," he said.

But Kahn disagrees.
"We know the current laws aren't working, because we've had so many raids in North Carolina," she said. "All of those raids have been because the situation has risen to the level of animal cruelty. That's why authorities have been able to go in."

In Friday's Brunswick County case, the dogs' owners, Andrew and Amelia Millis, of Wilmington, were arrested on charges of animal neglect and animal cruelty. Both were in the Brunswick County jail Monday afternoon under $1.5 million bonds.

The SPCA of Wake County has taken in 39 of the dogs and puppies seized from the Millises.
Spokeswoman Mondy Lamb said Monday that some of the dogs are facing serious health problems but that others should be ready for adoption in about two to three weeks.
Anyone interested in adopting a dog should contact the SPCA.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

50 Counts of Animal Cruelty in Cleveland County NC

NC woman facing multiple animal cruelty charges

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A Cleveland County woman is facing charges after authorities say she was keeping approximately 50 dogs, cats and rabbits on her property.

County animal control officers say 62-year-old Carolyn White Kirby faces multiple charges of animal cruelty. She is free on bond, and it's not known whether she has an attorney.

Animal control supervisor Tripp Bowling said many of the animals were housed in small cages in the yard or inside the home with no electricity, air conditioning or lights. He said an anonymous call last weekend tipped officers to the situation.

Some of the dogs appeared to be healthy and well-fed while others looked malnourished.

Bowling said Kirby told authorities she loved the animals but couldn't care for them. He said the animals are now in the county's custody.

Yadkin County couple charged with animal cruelty

Yadkin County couple charged with animal cruelty

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A Yadkin County man and woman were arrested on animal-cruelty charges after investigators found a malnourished horse on their property, according to a news release from the Yadkin County Sheriff's Office.

Diego Armando Arroyo-Solis, 21, of Yadkinville was charged with one count of felony cruelty to animals and one count of felony kill animal by starvation. Faith Smith Arroyo, 28, of Jonesville, was charged with one count of felony kill animals by starvation and one count of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

Yadkin County detectives received an anonymous call about an animal complaint in Jonesville and they discovered a horse that was extremely malnourished and in bad health, the sheriff's office said in the news release. The horse belonged to Arroyo-Solis.

Per recommendation of the local veterinarian, the horse had to be euthanized.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Breed Specific bans at Camp Lejeune

New Lejeune pet policy bans specific breeds, aggressive dogs

August 04, 2012 8:55 AM

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is changing their pet policy and banning all aggressive dogs and specific dog breeds as of Sept. 30.

Although the Marine Corps banned aggressive dog breeds in 2009, owners who had lived on a Marine Corps base with a restricted dog prior to the ban were allowed to “grandfather in” their dogs and keep them on base but new residents were not allowed to bring the restricted breeds on base when they moved.

Animal Control has recently taken over pet registration aboard Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River, and as a result, they’re enforcing a stricter ban on pit bulls, rottweilers and wolf hybrids.

As of Sept. 30, regardless of when the dog was acquired, all owners of pit bulls, rottweilers and wolf hybrids must either move out in town or give up their dog. All current pet owners must also reregister their pets under the new system by the same date.

“It also has to do with base housing,” said Sgt. Brent Mitzel from the Provost Marshal’s Office Animal Control. “There (have) been incidences in the past with bites and stuff like that, and we’re all just trying to limit the potential hazards.”

Alisa Johnson, a Marine and president of Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit organization that helps military members find homes for their pets while deployed, said just because a dog is a specific breed, doesn’t mean their personality is predictable.

“If you have a family pet that has never displayed any type of aggression, why is the pet and their family being punished?” Johnson asked, adding that a more suitable option would be to ban only those specific dogs that show instances of aggression, instead of all breeds that people suspect may be prone to aggression.

Mitzel said Animal Control will also test dogs for aggression during registration, and if the dog is considered aggressive by the staff, regardless of the breed, it will not be allowed on base.

“If they try to bite us, snap at us, growl, snarl show any type of aggression toward us, we’ll make that determination on whether we believe that pet is aggressive,” Mitzel said. “If it’s a three-pound dog and it’s trying to bite everybody’s hand off, we will not register that dog on the base.”

During registration, animal control will also assess the dog to determine if it is a banned breed or a mix of any of the banned breeds, and if they suspect the dog is one of those, they will not register the pet on base either, Mitzel said.

“We’re going to tell the owner they can contest it with a DNA test if they’d like. Once we get the results back, if it’s not one of those banned breeds and it’s not aggressive, then we’ll register it on base,” he said, adding that if the results come back positive, the dogs will be forced to leave the base, with or without their owners.

Although DNA testing has long been used by military bases and veterinary clinics to determine the breed of a dog, Johnson told The Daily News that no scientific evidence exists to prove DNA testing for breeds is accurate.

“In a memorandum distributed Army-wide on Feb. 3, 2012, Col. Bob Walter, director of the Army’s Veterinarian Service Activity, stated there is no scientific method to determine a breed and that breed bans are unlikely to protect installation residents,” the petition from Johnson’s nonprofit that calls for standardized pet policies across the military reads. “The letter recommends generic, non-breed, specific dangerous dog regulations with emphasis on identification of dangerous and chronically irresponsible owners.”

Currently, the Army and Air Force ban pit bulls, rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, chows and wolf hybrids, while the Marine Corps bans only pit bulls, rottweilers and wolf hybrids. Navy policies vary by installation. Some private base housing offices have additional breed restrictions beyond the listing of the military branch, meaning a family that moves from one base to another could be forced to give up their dog depending on the pet policy on that particular base.

“There is a huge lack of consistency with these policies,” Johnson said. “What we’re asking for is the DoD to give our military some piece of mind ... It’s a huge morale problem when you have families that are being broken up over breed restrictions.”

Johnson’s petition on calls for a standardized, consistent military policy for all pet owners, regardless of the breed. The petition asks the military to focus on strong enforcement of general dangerous dog policies and pet education programs for troops.

“With so much uncertainty in military life because of constant moves ... pets are a stabilizing component for helping families in stressful times,” the petition reads. “Some service members are required to live in government housing and, as more troops operate in a joint environment, the policy should account for these realties.”

Johnson added that their petition is not “an attack on military policies.” Rather, it’s a request for the military to “make a change that’s going to help our military families, instead of hurt them.”

To view or sign the petition, visit

For questions regarding the Camp Lejeune pet policy changes, call PMO Domestic Animal Control at 910-451-5143.

Contact Daily News Military Reporter Amanda Wilcox at 910-219-8453 or

NC Horse Abuse Case in Burke County

Woman pleads no contest to animal cruelty charges in alleged horse abuse case

Burke animal control seizes horses
Credit: Julie N. Chang/The News Herald
In this file photo, Burke County Animal Control officers attempt to load a horse into a trailer. Officers seized about 12 horses from 3492 and 3500 Crawley Higgins Ave. after a visit showed signs of neglect and animal cruelty, according to the search warrant.

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MORGANTON, N.C. – A Morganton woman charged with three counts of animal cruelty pleaded no contest in court Monday and now faces restitution charges to Burke County Animal Control.
Bobbie Darlene Reep, 54, of Crawley Higgins Avenue was served a criminal summons June 5 for animal cruelty after Burke County law enforcement removed 12 horses from her property the day before.
Authorities referred to the animals as thin and malnourished before taking them into custody and placing them under the care of Animal Control.
Reep originally claimed the horses appeared to be so unhealthy because they had been rescues.
“They have all been basically rescues or wild mustangs,” Reep said June 4. “A lot of the times they’re skin and bones and we take care of them.”
In court Tuesday, Reep revealed that she had signed ownership of the horses over to the state after the horses were seized.
When Animal Control requested Reep pay restitution for the horses’ maintenance, the defense explained to the court that Reep’s income up to the time of the seizure had been based solely on her horses.
“She’s pretty well, at this time, tapped out financially,” Reep’s attorney stated in court.
After some deliberation, the court decided that Reep must pay restitution of $5,511.42, but over a period of time set by a probation officer.
While the court stated it understood Reep’s economic circumstances, it believed, “she should bear some sort of responsibility.”
Reep refused to comment.

Puppy Mill Raided in Leland NC

Animal rescue groups and the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office seized more than 100 dogs from a suspected puppy mill Friday afternoon in Leland.
More Info Focal Point: "Puppies and Politics"Focal Point: 'Puppies and Politics'
Kim Alboum, director of the North Carolina Humane Society, said the animals, which include poodles, Yorkshire terriers and shih tzus, have been living in tight, uncomfortable living conditions in a doublewide trailer without electricity.
Cages were stacked on top of one another, and in some instances, rescuers found cockroaches crawling on puppies.
Alboum described the living conditions as "atrocious."
"This is the worst puppy mill I have seen in North Carolina," she said. "Those animals inside that house were suffering immensely. It is filthy, disgusting."
Brunswick County sheriff's deputies arrested the dogs' owners, Andrew and Amelia Millis, of Wilmington, on charges of animal neglect and animal cruelty charges, but authorities did not have the exact charges Friday evening.
A final count on the number of dogs rescued also wasn't available.

They were being evaluated Friday evening and were to be taken in by animal rescue groups, including the SPCA of Wake County, where their health would be further evaluated before any dogs could be put up for adoption.
The SPCA said it will be a minimum of a week before any of the animals they receive will be put up for adoption.
Anyone interested in doing so should contact the SPCA.
According to the Humane Society, rescuers pulled 1,000 dogs out of puppy mills in North Carolina last year.
Friday's marked the ninth bust in the last 18 months.

The only relief it had was death

The black and white pit bull who lived at 1068 Lavender Road in Grover, N.C. had a dog house, and food and water dishes, but the heavy, logging-style chain secured around her neck prevented her from reaching them.

Instead, day in and day out, through the scalding hot days, she stared at them as her mouth grew dry and her stomach churned in hunger.

Finally, dehydration and starvation dropped her weakened body to the ground where she laid and looked at the bowls and house which could have provided some relief from her exquisite suffering.

Alas, death closed her eyes forever - allowing her to slip away from her tortured existence.

The man allegedly responsible for this dog's suffering is 31-year-old Bradley Eugene Short.

According to Thursday's Gaston Gazette, police arrested and charged him on Tuesday with felony killing an animal by starvation, misdemeanor disposition of dead domesticated animal and misdemeanor restraining dog in a cruel manner.

An animal control officer for Cleveland County stated in a report:

“The heavy logging-type chain was affixed to a leather collar around the animal’s neck,”

“The chain was knotted several times and appeared to restrict the animal’s movement, where access to the dog house and bowls located near the animal could not be made.”

Short, the man responsible for tethering this dog behind a mobile home and allowing her to starve to death, posted a $5,000 bond and walked out of jail on Wednesday.

he black dog’s decomposing body is stretched out under the baking sun, nose pointed at the empty food dish several feet out of reach.

The heavy chain around her neck is tethered to a stake pounded in the dirt.

A white plastic igloo sits nearby, also out of reach.

“It’s a whole different meaning of neglect,” said Sam Lockridge, Cleveland County health services coordinator. “It’s one of the most horrific things I’ve seen in my 26 years, as far as tethering goes.”

Bradley Eugene Short, 31, was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony killing an animal by starvation, misdemeanor disposition of dead domesticated animal and misdemeanor restraining dog in a cruel manner.

Animal’s movement restricted

According to a report by Cleveland County Animal Control officers, a woman called Animal Control on Monday to report a dead dog she found at a home at 1068 Lavender Road in Grover.

She said it looked as if the dog was abandoned.

When an officer went to investigate, he found a dead black and white pit bull mix tethered about 50 yards behind a mobile home, according to the report.

“The heavy logging-type chain was affixed to a leather collar around the animal’s neck,” the report states. “The chain was knotted several times and appeared to restrict the animal’s movement, where access to the dog house and bowls located near the animal could not be made.”

The report stated the two pet bowls had what appeared to be old rain water in them and were full of mosquitoes.

Officers weren’t able to find the owner Monday but returned the next day and found a white barrel had been placed over the animal’s body.

While officers were still on the scene, Short showed up and told officers he found the dead dog that morning and had returned to bury it, according to the report.

Animal Control officers said Short did not live at that address.

‘The only relief it had was death’

The dog was dead for at least two weeks by the time it was found, the report stated.

According to Animal Control, the dog died as a result of starvation and was restrained in a cruel manner that violated the county’s tethering ordinance.

Short was arrested Tuesday and taken to the Cleveland County jail annex. He posted his $5,000 bond by Wednesday morning.

Lockridge said the animal suffered for weeks.

The only relief it had was death,” he said.

Lockridge said cases such as this one are the reason the county adopted a tethering ordinance last year.

The ordinance lists the proper ways to tether an animal, defined as a means to tie or fasten an animal on a chain, leash or other device so it can only move within a set radius.

The ordinance states the tether should be at least 10 feet long with swivels on both ends and cannot exceed 10 percent of the animal’s body weight.

The tether should be attached to a properly fitting harness or collar to prevent choking, strangulation or pain and the animal should have access to clean water, food and shelter.

If the ordinance is violated, a $100 fine is possible and in extreme cases, animal cruelty charges.

Reach reporter Rebecca Clark at 704-669-3344.