Henry County conducts ‘puppy mill’ bust

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Henry County Animal Control officials on Monday, Dec. 12, seized more than 100 dogs and as many as 100 other animals from buildings on a property located at 25 Allison Lane in rural Campbellsburg.

The animals were being held in crates and cages in a single-wide trailer, a camper, outdoor kennels and a large outbuilding.

The stench emanating from the property could be detected from the road.

Animal Control Officer Dan Flinkfelt said he has been investigating the case since July, when Henry and Trimble counties took over the Eminence shelter previously operated by the Kentucky Humane Society. Neighbors and others had complained about the property – and the stench – for years, but Flinkfelt said he had to make sure he had “all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed” before he could obtain a warrant to enter the property.

The warrant was unnecessary, as a woman who claimed to live in part of the trailer and help the owners tend to the animals, voluntarily allowed Flinkfelt into the gated property, along with Henry County Sheriff’s Deputies Danny Stivers and Keith Perry and Lisa Elswick, who works at the shelter and is a volunteer with area animal rescue groups.

The group descended on the property at 6:30 p.m. Monday and immediately began to determine the severity of the situation. Most of the animals had been removed by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday; officials were still on-scene at 10:30 a.m. waiting for the largest dogs to be transported to the Oldham County Humane Society.

Officials discovered small dogs, large dogs, rabbits, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, finches and even hermit crabs living in “unbelievable, deplorable conditions,” Flinkfelt said.

Officials removed 38 dogs from the trailer alone. In the main part of the trailer, 21 dogs and puppies were being kept in filthy crates – some stacked two to three high. Some of the dogs were standing in crates filled with feces and urine several inches deep.

The other 17 dogs – mostly chihuahuas – were living in the other portion of the trailer with the woman, whose name had not yet been released by officials on Tuesday. She claimed those to be her own pets, and said she was hoping that by cooperating with officials, she would be able to keep them.

Behind the trailer was a camper with more small dogs – some of them living as pets – and more filthy crates with several more small dogs, including a mother chihuahua mix and her three tiny puppies. The camper also housed a cage with a screech owl, a plastic tub with at least a dozen guinea pigs, and boxes filled with hermit crabs.

Outside behind the camper and trailer was a large carport filled with junk and lined with dozens of cages holding at least 54 rabbits and more guinea pigs.

Toward the back of the property, officials found a makeshift corral with six horses and outdoor kennels covered by shredded tarps housing 16 Saint Bernards, at least two chocolate Labrador retrievers, spaniels and other breeds, and two wolves. Another kennel on the property held two mastiffs, both with sores and both severely underweight.

The outbuilding held another 35-40 dogs, a cat and another rabbit. Here, Flinkfelt said, officials found the worst cases – more small dogs, many of which were blind, injured or very sick.

Volunteers and officials recorded the breed, sex and condition of each animal as it was brought off the property and placed into clean crates. Most were transported to the Eminence shelter.

The screech owl was confiscated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. After a cursory check of the bird, Crestwood veterinarian Teresa Gregory determined it was blind. She was unsure if the bird would survive.
Flinkfelt said keeping the bird and the wolves without permits is a federal offense.

He said Tuesday that it may be a couple days before officials determined what charges would be lodged against the couple, whose names also weren’t released by press time.

Henry County Attorney Virginia Harrod said she anticipated all three individuals to be face charges, and she said they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Tammie Crawford, executive director of Carroll County Animal Support, said she and President Sherry Stamper and other group members took two vehicles filled with supplies to the Henry County shelter, including bedding, crates and food.

She said none of the food donated to Henry County was part of the 2,000 pounds of food collected during a competition over the summer by local banks. However, she said, the group may donate some of that food, if it is needed.

Anyone wishing to donate to the plight of the animals rescued Monday should contact Crawford at (502) 732-6040 or call the Eminence shelter at (502) 845-6446.

The biggest need, Flinkfelt said Tuesday, was for a place to house the rabbits and cats.