Suspected Puppy Mill Investigated In City Limits
Monday, November 12th 2007, 8:00 PM CST
The News On 6 continues its look into Oklahoma's problems with puppy mills. As it is now, puppy mills operating in our state can be shutdown only when there is evidence of severe animal cruelty. A tip led The News On 6 to a manâ€™s puppy-selling business operating in Tulsa. News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports most puppy mills operate in rural parts of the state and have no local oversight, but it is supposed to be different in the city limits.
A trailer along Tulsaâ€™s Admiral Boulevard doesn't look like much, itâ€™s where Denise Adair and her daughter went after they saw an ad in the paper advertising Yorkie puppies for sale.
"So when we came over to this area I kept thinking we were in the wrong place," Denise Adair, potential puppy buyer said.
Denise soon learned she was in the right place, but says she had no idea people sold puppies out of trailers.
"There was rows, three tiers high, of Yorkies and Maltese, some three to five in a cage, some with no water, no way of getting out to go outside," said Denise Adair.
Denise Adair called The News On 6 for help, saying the puppies were being held in deplorable conditions. We wanted to see for ourselves, so we sent in some potential buyers and a hidden camera.
Like Denise said, there are rows of cages and dozens of puppies, and in another room, the mothers and their younger puppies, not yet for sale. What you can't see is the smell.
"I walked in and I was hit with this horrific smell. I was gagging, I was really having to control my gag reflexes. It was horrible," said Ricci Wood of the Tulsa Humane Society.
Ricci Wood and Sarah Burnam are with the Humane Society and went in as our potential buyers.
"They had more dogs in that little trailer than we have at the Humane Society at one time," Sarah Burnam of the Tulsa Humane Society said.
They said the puppies were definitely not happy, but they seemed healthy and the seller had records of important vaccinations.
The News On 6 wanted to know if this would qualify as a puppy mill, so we asked a puppy mill expert, Ruth Steinberger of The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.
"Yes. This is a puppy mill," said Ruth Steinberger, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.
Steinberger said this one is unusual because it's in the city. She said the City of Tulsa has some laws to keep puppy mills from popping up.
"I would hope that the City of Tulsa would be compelled to act," Ruth Steinberger of the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals said.
And they did. City of Tulsa animal control investigators met us at the trailer. Investigators said they've been there before, but they weren't sure if the man inside, Jerry Hine, was in violation of the law because he seems to take care of the dogs and he has a permit.
This time Hine invited The News On 6 in to see his operation.
"Would you like to come in and see how nice and clean my dogs are? Or would you like to believe the lies that the dog Nazis that have you given you lots of lies in the past? Which would you like to do?â€ asked puppy salesman Jerry Hine.
â€œWe'd love to come in," News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren responded.
Inside, Hine showed us a book of registrations for his dogs. He told us the city granted him a hobbyist exemption permit, allowing his operation in the city limits. A hobbyist exemption permit allows people to have more than three adult dogs in the city limits and forgoes the requirement that they be spayed or neutered.
In records obtained by The News On 6 from the City of Tulsa, Hine qualified for a permit because he has licensed hunting dogs and a hunting license. But when asked in the application if he was a commercial breeder, he circled no.
Animal control investigators told Hine he is in violation of the law and wrote him two tickets.
"Our suspicions were confirmed. Heâ€™s in violation of having too many dogs in the city limits of Tulsa," Jake Wilson, Animal Control Investigator said.
But asking Hine if he's running a puppy mill is clearly insulting.
"When people say you're running a puppy mill, you say?" News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren asked puppy salesman Jerry Hine.
"I say a puppy mill is a very mean, derogatory term, equal to calling a black person a ******, and I take equal offense to it. I am a dog advocate," puppy salesman Jerry Hine responded.
Hine will now have to appear before a judge on his citations, but the puppies can stay. That's something Denise Adair says will haunt her until lawmakers make things better.
"I've had nightmares about it, and I've been horrified by it and I've started trying to educate myself as to what's going on, not just in this city but in this state, and I find out that there is no regulation against these people," Denise Adair, potential puppy buyer said.
Animal control investigators say the only way they could have removed the dogs was if there were signs of animal cruelty, and there were no signs of that. Meanwhile, veterinarian and state Representative Lee Denny is working on legislation to regulate puppy mills. Clay presented a draft plan to lawmakers earlier this month that would require regulation of breeders who have 25 or more dogs, cats, kittens or puppies.
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