December 21, 2009
ASPCA Expert Testimony Helps Convict Puppy Mill Owner
On December 18, the trial of puppy mill operator Patricia Adkisson came to a victorious close. Charged with hoarding hundreds of animals at her Lyles, Tennessee home, Adkisson was found guilty on 32 counts, including 14 felonies and 18 misdemeanors. Charges included felony aggravated animal cruelty, misdemeanor animal cruelty, unlawful transport of dogs and giving rabies vaccines without proper certification. She was fined $55,100. Helping to seal the conviction was expert testimony from the ASPCA’s leading forensics veterinarian, Dr. Melinda Merck and the Northeast Director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, Jeff Eyre.
Back in June 2008, in what would later be described as Tennessee's largest-ever puppy mill raid, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team along with our Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit were deployed to the Pine Bluff Kennels. Nearly 750 animals, including 200 puppies, were removed from the 92-acre operation. The dogs were kept in feces-encrusted, unventilated pens with little or no food or water, and matting, sores, broken limbs, hernias and abscesses were prevalent. Other animals including horses, burros, chickens, goats, parrots and purebred cats were also seized.
“This was one of the worst situations I have ever seen,” explains Merck. “Animals were in extreme states of neglect and illness. Some were dead. The overcrowding, the unsanitary conditions, the flea and parasite infestation, as well as the stress of competing for food and coping with untreated illnessesall were severe.”
The sentencing hearing is set for February 16, 2010.
Check out video on the case here and stay tuned to ASPCA.org for updates on this developing story.