By Chris Wright, The News On 6
NOWATA, Oklahoma -- A judge decided Wednesday that an alleged puppy mill owner charged with animal cruelty will stand trial.
It's something that animal advocates say does not happen nearly often enough.
Nowata County Sheriff's deputies seized 59 dogs in May after raiding what they call a major puppy mill. Authorities said the dogs were rescued from terrible conditions.
"The mud was horrible. Feces, green water," Jay Long, Nowata County Sheriff's Deputy, said at the time.
"How could you say you care about an animal and leave them in such a condition?" Holly Ridenhour, Nowata Animal Control, said at the time.
The county's district attorney agreed and charged the property's owners, Wesley Griner and Carolyn Vaughn, with cruelty to animals.
Griner was arraigned Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty, and will stand trial later this year.
Shelli Holli-Handy, the Director of Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, says most puppy mill cases are not prosecuted to this extent.
"There's very little chance of them being caught because of the lack of population and law enforcement in the area. So unfortunately that does make Oklahoma more subject to these operations," she said.
She said Oklahoma still trails only Missouri when it comes to the prevalence of puppy mills. But she hopes that will change soon.
Oklahoma's Commercial Pet Breeders Act goes into effect in November. The act will create a board that will then come up with a new set of regulations for the state's dog breeders. The regulations are expected to include requirements for licensing and the care of animals, as well as penalties for those who don't follow the new rules.
The Alliance for Animals says the case in Nowata shows that these changes are long overdue.
"It's a very exciting time, but it's unfortunate that it's taken us thing long to get to this point," Holland said.
The new regulations for breeders won't be enforced until July of next year.
Wesley Griner's trial will get underway December 13th. The other suspect, Carolyn Vaughn, will be arraigned next month.