A Lake County Sheriff’s Department investigation into allegations of operating a puppy factory in Center Township continues, but a retired veteran animal investigator said the case was difficult.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department evacuated more than 40 dogs from the Crown Point property on Thursday due to suspected puppy farm operations.
Department spokeswoman Pam Jones said in a release that the department received an anonymous call on May 24 about a man buying “unusually large amounts of dog food” and animal drugs. Jones said after securing search warrants for the Crown Point property and a farm outside Rensselaer, officers seized dozens of dogs in varying conditions, including mountain dogs and seven American dogs. Bulldogs, 29 French Bulldogs).
At least four of the dogs found are dead, he said, and a 41-year-old man is being questioned.
An investigation is ongoing, but Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez said in a release that those involved may have also performed illegal surgery on some animals.
Retired Lake County Detective Sergeant Michelle Dvorussak, who investigated animal crimes, said over the years she has handled numerous animal cruelty cases involving suspected illegal medical practices.
In some cases, ears and tails were clipped in apartments, as most veterinary offices consider the procedure cosmetic and unnecessary. Another case involved an individual accused of performing medical procedures, such as caesarean sections, on captive animals.
In the latter case, Dvorussak said the Indiana Board of Animal Health told prosecutors and investigators that the way Indiana law is written allows individuals to perform veterinary care, including surgery, on their animals. said he was warned that he could not perform the operation on other people’s animals.
Animal cruelty cases are difficult to prosecute under the best of circumstances.
“All other criminal cases are much easier when you have a victim who can articulate what happened to him. A dog is like a mute victim. That’s probably the hardest part.” ‘, said Dvorussak. Investigators must use circumstantial evidence to deduce what happened.
“That’s why a lot of lawsuits are basically defensible,” she says.
About 90% of brutality cases go on deferred prosecution, and cases are dismissed if the perpetrator does not cause trouble for a year. In the case, which involved caesarean section operations, 11 felony animal mutilation charges and 72 animal neglect charges were initially reduced to three counts, including failure to register a breeder, and two counts of cruelty to animals.
Puppy mills may be common in other parts of the state, but their operations are rare in more urban areas.
according to bailingoutbenji.com, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-registered puppy farm tracking website, has 218 puppy farms in Indiana, including two in Lake County and one in Porter County. Most of the state’s puppy mill operations are located in Lagrange, Elkhart, Allen, Adams, Wayne, Martin, and Davis counties.
It is unknown at this time if any USDA registered breeders were involved in the current investigation.
Michelle L. Quinn is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.