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Connecticut case shines light on puppy mills

Puppy in a cage

Mistreated puppies found in wrecked truck

October 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:06 p.m. EDT (0306 GMT)

From Correspondent Cynthia Tornquist

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut (CNN) -- The recent discovery of nearly 100 puppies, crammed into a truck without food or water, is being described by Connecticut officials as one of the worst animal abuse cases they've ever seen.

The puppies -- discovered after the truck was wrecked -- were brought to the Bridgeport Animal Shelter Tuesday. They will be housed in kennels throughout the area, Mayor Joseph Ganim said, while the truck driver, Larry Jenkins of Tunas, Missouri, faces 96 counts of cruelty to animals.

Authorities say the puppies are owned by a Missouri dog broker who was trying to sell them to pet shops along the East Coast. The case has brought renewed attention to how dog breeders treat the animals they offer for sale.

vxtreme Cynthia Tornquist reports

'They just churn them out'

"A lot of these puppy mills are not part of the pet industry, but we're tarnished by it," said Marshall Meyers of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. "So what we really need to do is have good strong state kennel licensing laws -- kennel standards -- that are enforced."

"I don't think (the puppies are) given the care they really need," says Frank Oliveri, manager of a Petco store. "A lot of inbreeding might take place, and they just churn them out like noodles, like spaghetti."

Alleged victim of a puppy mill

Many commercial breeders are required to be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act. But with only 73 inspectors across the United States, the USDA cannot keep up with the workload. Some states also license and regulate commercial kennels.

However, pet industry officials say consumers, by asking a few questions before they buy, can throw up an additional line of defense against the abuses of so-called puppy mills.

"They should ask to see health records. They should look at the animal. Does they animal have a runny nose? Does the animal have clear eyes? See what the condition of the animal is," Meyers said.

Animal rights advocates suggest adopting puppies from animal shelters, rather than buying them.

"If more people would adopt animals out of the shelters, obviously the puppy mills would feel it," says Staci Syrotiak of one such group, called New Leash on Life.

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