In Northern Indiana, rescuers are still trying to pick up the pieces after they stepped in to save over 30 dogs at a breeding operation gone bad. When they arrived at the property in rural Medaryville, Indiana just before Independence Day, they found dogs and the man who bred them living in filth beyond belief. Now, work is underway to get the dogs back to health and catch dogs still on the loose on the property.
“My father lived next door to the breeder and the sheriff showed up over there to check on him,” says Tammie Gaffney of PawsHere Foundation. “My dad didn’t know he was in that bad a shape, but the county had come in and taken puppies out of there because he hadn’t taken care of them. At first he only wanted us to take a few dogs, it took us two days to get him to sign over the rest of the dogs.”
John Peck, the man who had the breeding operation, had been a highly respected breeder of German Shepherds at one time. Gaffney is the founder of PawsHeres, a no-kill rescue in Northern Indiana. The next day, Peck was on his way to a hospital.
Inside the house, the shear gravity of the situation was sinking in. The floor was layer upon layer of food, poop and debris. There were fleas and a horrid smell of ammonia from the urine soaked floors and walls. Other rescues were called in to help with the rescue and clearing the debris.
I have done a lot of blog posts about puppy mills. Those are the licensed (and unlicensed), commercial facilities that put profit over the health of the pets they breed. The dogs from those facilities are sold to pet stores and online. When you look at the photos below, you see conditions that are even worse than some of the puppy mills I’ve blogged about.
Peck was an unlicensed, small-scale breeder. However, when he was selling dogs, no alarms went off that anything was amiss. People went to his home to check out the dogs. But, he reportedly didn’t allow people inside his house. He was still selling dogs as recently a several months ago.
“He used to be a reputable breeder in the dog world,” said Gaffney. “His health got bad and he couldn’t take care of all the dogs. He couldn’t even care for himself. His breeding partner wasn’t helping and it got out of control. Because his property was secluded and he kept to himself, neighbors didn’t know how bad it had gotten.”
On the property, there were German Shepherds and various mixed breeds running wild in the yard instead of being trapped in a cage. They also found two dogs in pens in the basement. One jumped into Gaffney’s arm but the other was in very bad shape, barely clinging to life. He had blood seeping from his body and had to be euthanized.
“We’ve worked really hard trying to catch all the dogs. It’s been a couple of weeks and there are still around four dogs left,” adds Gaffney. “Some dogs had been trapped, but are loose by the time we come to check the traps in the morning. We’ve spread floor around the traps to detect if someone is on the property setting the dogs loose again.”
Several rescues stepped in to help with the operation – The German Shepherd rescue out of Indianapolis, Lake Shore Paws and 2×2 Rescue. A total of two dogs died and the reminding surviving dogs are settling in with those rescues. Gaffney’s rescue has its hands full caring for 15 dogs. They’ve had to set up additional pens and runs for the dogs.
“It’s been several exhausting weeks and we’re still at the property as we work to capture the last dogs,” she adds. “We’ve been covered in fleas lately because with the dogs gone, they have no place else to go. However, we’ve been able to give all these dogs a second chance and working to get them healthy and assess them as we start to get them ready for adoption.”
At PawsHere, as with the other rescues, the dogs now have sanctuary as long as they need prior to adoption. Of the 15 dogs taken in by PawsHere, 10 have tested positive for Heartworm. Meanwhile, Peck’s health continues to fail. Local officials haven’t been helpful as the rescues try to piece together the story and figure out when things got so horribly out of control.
“It’s heartbreaking that the dogs were living this way,” says Gaffney. “We don’t know how long it’s been that bad, but it had to be going on for awhile. No one – person or animal – should ever have to live like this.”
PawsHeres will need donations to get the dogs healthy and feed and care for them. Some of the items they need include Heartworm preventative, Vita Tabs, Fish Oil Capsules, Peanut Butter and food. You may make donations online here, find out what they need on their wish list here and, adopt, volunteer or foster here. Their story will be updated on Facebook. An online fundraiser is being held here through the 19th. A GoFundMe has been set up here.
Bloggers note: I’ve received me feedback from people who have purchased dogs from Pecks breeding operation. Whether you call him a puppy mill or a backyard breeder, what is apparent is that the conditions here had been deplorable for a long time. The animal welfare laws in Indiana are not as strong as Illinois and in some counties, they are non-existent. That was the case here. People reported to authorities and nothing was done.
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