“Puppy mill” cases come to a head

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1998:

BUNA, Texas––Scheduled to make
a court appearance on March 25 to answer
neglect charges, dog and horse fancier Joyce
Goodrich, 59, of Buna, Texas, instead killed
herself with a fatal dose of phenobarbital. The
Beaumont Humane Society had seized 17 horses,
including several starving former show
champions, and about 20 dogs from Goodrich
a week earlier. The dogs were reportedly
mostly purebred Australian shepherds and
King Charles cavalier spaniels, both varieties
in strong demand, but whether Goodrich was
trying to breed them was unclear.
Reputedly a former veterinary assistant,
Goodrich most recently worked at a fast
food franchise, evidently not earning enough
to keep the animals fed.
The Goodrich case was one of several
going to court in March and April that
involved blurred distinctions among alleged
puppy-milling, backyard breeding, and animal
collecting. Humane society literature generally
defines puppy-millers as persons who keep animals
in poor conditions simply to maximize
profits; backyard breeders as smalltime puppymillers;
and animal collectors as animal lovers
and sometimes even rescuers whose good
intentions get far out of control.

Psychological studies, on the other
hand, indicate that common circumstances and
personality traits underlie all three behavior
patterns, along with the behavior of farmers
who allow livestock to starve in barns. In each
instance, research indicates, the combination
of confining and neglecting animals is an
expression of passive aggression which often
goes with a desire to establish symbolic control
amid feelings of being out of control. These
feelings are typically––but not always––triggered
by the death of a human companion.
The largest number of animals in any
of the recent cases were found on March 17 at
the Garden City, Missouri premises of
Christopher Summers and Reed Evans, “both
thought to be in their forties,” according to
Rasheeda Crayton and Matt Campbell of the
Kansas City Star, who quoted them as claiming
past involvement in dog shows. Police and
volunteers removed 175 live dogs and the
remains of about 50 dead dogs, along with
about 20 cats and 25 birds.
Yorkshire terrier breeder Karen
Brandenburg, of Radcliffe, Kentucky, was
convicted by a jury on March 27 of the entire
array of 189 charges filed against her after
police discovered 66 dogs at her home in
reportedly filthy conditions on September 21,
1997. Included were 56 counts of cruelty, 66
counts of failure to vaccinate, 66 counts of
failure to license, and one count of failure to
get a business license. The jury asked that
Brandenburg be fined $26,000 and be sentenced
to serve seven years in jail––substantially
more than the fine of $450 and one year in
jail requested by prosecutor John Simcoe.
Brandenburg claimed she lost the ability to
look after the animals after suffering knee and
back injuries on top of depression while her
mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Local shelters, veterinary clinics,
and fostering networks in and around Gilmer
County, Georgia, were reportedly all but
overwhelmed in mid-March after police and
humane authorities seized 80 dogs from Jane
Hess, of Ellijay, who was charged with 46
counts of cruelty. Hess appeared to be breeding
Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, both
miniature and full-sized Doberman pinschers,
Maltese, Pekinese, Pomeranians, Saint
Bernards, English bulldogs, bloodhounds,
poodles, and bull mastiffs.
Reversing an earlier ruling by another
judge, Judge Peter Miller of Putnam
County, Florida, ruled on April 2 that the
Putnam County Humane Society need return
only one dog to Margorie Duso, of Oakwood
Kennels in Fruitland, of 41 allegedly neglected
dogs who were seized from her in August
1997. The Florida state attorney’s office later
dropped cruelty charges against Duso.
Another Florida breeder case surfaced
within less than a week, as Kissimmee
authorities on April 5 confiscated 21 dogs
including 11 Doberman puppies from Michael
James Fletcher, 23, after neighbors complained
that adult dogs were running at large.
Fletcher reportedly planned to sell the puppies.
Convicted by a jury on March 7 of
failing to adequately feed and water the dogs in
his care, toy dog breeder Robert Babcock, 49,
of Munson Township, Ohio, drew a relatively
light sentence on March 18 from municipal
judge Craig Albert: five years on probation,
during which a veterinarian must check the
dogs every two weeks––and Albert ordered
that 70 of the 95 dogs the Geauga Humane
Society seized on Octber 23, 1997 must be
returned to Babcock, as soon as he pays $40 to
renew his county kennnel license plus $40
more for failing to pay before January 20.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.