Please God...It's Got To End

Because of our website about border collies and the life of our dogs, we get several calls a week about dogs and puppies.  We usually don’t have any to sell but people will want a recommendation for a breeder or will have a question about one or they want advice about their BC.  I don’t mind giving my thoughts if I know, on recommending or a breeder, but I have to actually know who I'm talking about, only to be fair to them.  In the last two years, I have received several dozen calls about a BC breeder in Lafayette, Indiana and all of them were people that had concerns about the border collies that were there.  

Two calls really stuck with me.  The first was a man that had made a visit and was upset because of the conditions of the kennel.  I listened to him and tried to console him thinking it couldn't have been that bad.  He called back and stated that he had made another visit only to be more upset.  He didn't know who to call, and I gave him some information and contacts he could use.  After he had vented for a while, he broke down and cried because of their treatment and abuse and didn't understand how anybody could do that to an animal.  I took it upon myself to call the local authorities “just to talk” one retired investigator to an active one.  The officer was well aware of the breeder and stated that 80% of ALL their calls are from the same breeder and abuse.  They did state that there was a court hearing at the end of the month.  All was well; problem solved…or, so I thought…

In August of this year, I received a lengthy email about the same breeder and abuse.  After reading it, I asked her to call me so we could talk.  It was a woman who made a stop from Florida going to her home up north.  She was shocked and just needed to vent and a shoulder to cry on.  She stated that she couldn't go any further inside the kennel after she saw the first of the 43 dogs that were caged, it was just too much, and she left the; we crying while her husband spoke to the breeder.

Her testimony was heartbreaking, and I knew at that very moment, I had to do something, I didn't know what, but I had to do something.  Before I could take any one's word, I had to make a visit.  It would not be fair to discuss the situation or make an opinion if I did not witness the “so-called” abuse for myself, so I made my mind up; I was going to make a visit, just to see…and our journey starts.

The date was set, and I asked Elaine to go, but she was busy at church and couldn't.  I then asked a friend of ours, Karen Newhall who has 20 years' experience in developing drugs for animal health and has a working sheep farm with two border collies.  We chose a day to go, and off to Lafayette we went.   A lot of small talk in the 3-hour drive, but as we got closer, the conversation was getting serious about the dogs.  "What are we going to say?"  "What are we going to ask?"  I told Karen, I was getting a little nervous.  In my past life, I was a detective for 25 years in a major city, but what I was about to do hit close to home and concerned me more than anything I had done in those twenty-five years.  As we pulled in, I turned to Karen and said, "I hope it's not as bad as we've been told" and she said, "Me too".

The farm property was located at 10112 South 700 East, Clarks Hill, Indiana, which is a rural farm property; there is a mobile home and at least two metal pole buildings and four-wire corn cribs.  Many of the dogs are housed in a 30 x 60 metal pole building. The property is overgrown and unkempt. Some dogs are housed in the corn cribs, one dog was tied outside, and one dog was loose. The border collies totaled at 43,  that’s all we could see.
As we got in the car and pulled away from our visit, both Karen and I didn’t say anything at first, and I think we were in shock.  The first words were spoken, and I would like to remember what they were but I can't.  That period is a buzz, and my mind is flashing images from one kennel to another. Through the entire visit, we both kept our composure and asked many questions and were given complete answers, most of which we didn’t agree with, but he did respond to questions. We found him to be a very proud man of his accomplishments and when we asked if we could take photos, he gladly agreed and even encouraged us to “take photos of anything we wanted, except him” which we agreed to. There is nothing I can write or say that can describe this trip and as I have said many times, “you just have to visit” to get the full effect of his kennel. I will tell you, this trip has affected me in ways that will haunt me for the rest of my life. As I sit here at my keyboard at 4 am on the very Sunday that this post needs to go up, I should tell you something, sleep has escaped me on more than one night, in fact, it usually escapes me on most nights either going to sleep or waking at 3 am with the images spinning in my mind.

What to do?  Karen and I were on a mission now…Letters were written, phone calls were made, and visits were scheduled. There were many people that helped, but most did not. Of all the animal groups out there that are advertised to help, all of them kept referring us back to the local authorities, but they did want our money.  I even called PETA, and even they were aware of him but referred us back to the locals. The Captain of the local sheriff’s department was well aware of him and even stated that 80% of their complaints and workload was about this breeder, so the fight was on again. We had to do it for the dogs, we were their voice.

After much work and many phone calls, we were summoned to the sheriff’s department for a meeting. At first, we thought they were just trying to blow us off and coddle us, and the meeting started a little shaky because of me, I just wanted to say my piece.  Little did I know who was in attendance. There were Detectives, Captains, Prosecutors and even the National Director of “Puppy Mills” of the National Humane Society from Washington DC, she had flown in just for this meeting and the raid, and after the meeting, I hugged her.   The wheels were finally turning. At the raid a few days later the kennel was cited with over 50 citations and various charges were filed from the health department. All of which are pending, but it's not over.

One night a week or so ago, I was sitting in my recliner, and Clancy had crawled in my lap and was sound asleep, Abbie was right next to me as close as she could get, with Dutchess laying at my feet. Clancy was knocked completely out, fast asleep and I was rubbing him from his snout down his back, it was heaven for both of us. Just then I thought about Randy and his dogs, and I don’t know why.  I’m sure he cares for them but has he experienced this, the bond and love of a dog. Has he experienced the speed of them running and playing and being happy watching them run and jump? With 43 dogs on his property, it would be hard. He has stated that he can’t let them out because he’s afraid they will run off or get hurt, so I imagine they stay in their kennel all day begging for attention and just a chance to run.

As I lay in bed every night, I see the scared faces of dogs that I know need more than they are getting. Even sometimes my seven dogs are a handful, and I can’t imagine 43, and I know it would hard to do under the best circumstances. But in my thoughts late at night… I do feel sorry for the breeder and wonder what happened in the 40 years he has been breeding border collies. In my suffering, I pray… I pray for him, and I also pray for the dogs in his care and hope that this will be resolved soon.  Let’s just hope.
As I drift off, I see the faces of the dogs some of which look like mine and wonder if things were different…but rain falls on the just and the unjust.

To the dogs I left behind, know this, we did everything we could do.  It's in God's hands now, and hopefully I'll see you again, maybe even at the bridge where you'll finally be able to run and scamper and have someone hug and hold you, stroking you face looking into your sad eyes...I'm sure I'll know you, Your faces will live with me forever...

Give your dog a hug today.... some Border Collies have never had one....  Ken