The removal of more than 160 dogs from a Grand Traverse County home comes just three weeks after a Missaukee County puppy breeder was investigated with allegations of neglect and abuse. Forty dogs were removed from this home, but it was not the first time the breeder had been investigated.
So what happens in these surveys? And why is it taking local law enforcement so long to investigate the conditions of these herders?
“I think we’re starting to see the true scope of what the puppy mill industry is in Michigan,” said Molly Tamulevich, director of the Humane Society of the United States Michigan State.
Tamulevich said while both of these situations are terrible, there are other ranchers across Michigan who are also neglecting their animals.
“There can be huge puppy mills, over 100 and 100 dogs, or they can be very small, maybe breed-specific,” she said. “The conditions these dogs live in are truly appalling.”
John Goodwin is the Senior Director of the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
He said it can take a long time for these properties to appear on law enforcement’s radar.
“Puppy mills are usually hidden away because if consumers saw the conditions these dogs were in, they would never buy puppies from these particular people,” Goodwin said. “These windmills are hidden from view, which makes it very difficult for law enforcement to come across them.”
Law enforcement also needs a reason to investigate a property.
“In order for a sheriff’s deputy to gain access to a property, he or she needs what’s called probable cause or proof that a crime has been committed, often a search warrant,” Goodwin said.
Once a property has the appropriate citations to be investigated, Tamulevich said the resources needed to remove the dogs and rehabilitate them can be significant for areas that haven’t experienced a crisis.
“Imagine the skill, the money, the time it takes, even when there’s a seizure of these dogs, to do 100 vet exams, to find them a home, these are incredibly complicated cases,” said Tamulevich. follow the steps very closely to make sure you collect your evidence correctly, and many people have no experience with this.
For people who are unfamiliar with neutering and neutering, this translates to many more dogs than they can handle.
“Sometimes people don’t know how many animals are going to get out of the situation if they don’t spay their animals,” Tamulevich said. “If they’re constantly acquiring animals, it’s not hard as one might think to accumulate that amount of animals in a short period of time.”
Goodwin said one of the best things people can do locally is to work with their local councils to ban the sale of puppies in pet shops.
“Most puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills,” he said.
Tamulevich said there is currently a Michigan house bill that would clarify housing standards in Michigan.
“A lot of our laws don’t adequately protect animals in Michigan,” she said. “If you’re a law enforcement officer and you get a call about a suspected puppy mill, and you go into a yard and you see dogs in cages stacked on top of each other with floors screened in is not the condition that most people would keep their dogs in. Dogs, but it is legally allowed House Bill 4784 would clarify some of the housing standards in this state and allow people to recognize more easily when this type of abuse occurs.