February 4, 2015
PUTNAM DRIVE INCIDENT RESPONSE FROM SHERIFF STEPHENSON
There has been much information circulated through social media regarding what people are referring to as a “puppy mill” located in Midland County. The complaint has been and continues to be investigated and while the conditions of the kennel are less than ideal, they do meet the minimum standards that are required by law. Because the Sheriff’s Office continues to receive complaints, we felt it was important to inform concerned citizens of what has been done in the past and what will continue to be done in the future.
On December 16th the Animal Control Division of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint regarding the living conditions of the animals being kept at this residence. A subject had gone to the residence and took pictures of the various animals and kennels. The photos were sent to the Humane Society of Midland County who forwarded them to our Office. Our Animal Control Deputy made an unannounced visit to the residence and conducted an inspection of the premises. The homeowner has 22 animals on the property. Ten of the dogs are covered under the kennel license that was re issued and inspected in May of 2014, and 12 dogs are individually licensed. There were no violations of any laws that regulate the operation of a kennel noted at that time. The Deputy made two recommendations regarding the nails on one animal that were in need of trimming and the removal of some matted hair from another.
Even though we were confident of findings, we felt a second opinion was in order. On December 23rd we returned to the residence with a doctor of veterinary medicine from the Michigan Department of Agriculture. This person is responsible for inspecting animal facilities throughout the State of Michigan. The veterinarian conducted an inspection of the kennels and agreed with our original assessment that there were no violations. The veterinarian did note that two kennels needed additional bedding after a recent clean out. Our Deputy responded the following day and additional straw had been added. Our Deputy has made several other unannounced inspections since the original complaint with no violations observed.
We continue to receive numerous contacts from citizens from all over the United States expressing their concerns over the treatment of the animals at the residence. While we appreciate people’s concerns for animal rights, we must also be mindful of the dog owners and their Constitutional Rights. They have been and continue to be cooperative throughout this incident allowing my staff to inspect their kennels at anytime. Rest assured that we will continue to monitor this facility to ensure the lawful care and treatment of these animals.
In an effort to afford better understanding, representatives from the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, the Midland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Midland County Humane Society met to discuss the issues surrounding this case. This was an excellent opportunity for everyone to sit down and share their concerns and further explain the Michigan laws surrounding the regulating of kennels and animal cruelty. I believe all parties left with a better understanding of the adversities our respective agencies are facing. We will be meeting again in the very near future to further discuss ways to work together on this very important issue.
There are many that disagree with the current laws regarding the keeping and care of animals and in particular the way these animals are being treated. Some have resorted to entering on the property of these individuals in a misguided effort to rescue these animals. This is not the proper course of action to take. This type of behavior may result in arrest and prosecution of the offender.
If you truly care for the welfare of all animals then I urge you to contact your local legislator and encourage them to sponsor stricter legislation regarding the operation of kennels and the treatment of all animals.
Sheriff Scott Stephenson