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Mississippi Couple Pleads Guilty in ASPCA Puppy Mill Case

ASPCA managed investigation, rescue of more than 100 dogs from puppy mill operation in February 2010
December 6, 2011

NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today confirmed, through the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office in Marshall County, Miss., that two Mississippi residents--John and Nancy Garrison--pleaded guilty to one count each of the 97 cases of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in connection to the February 4, 2010, puppy mill raid where the ASPCA managed the investigation and rescue of more than 100 dogs.

John and Nancy Garrison were each sentenced to six months in jail, 11 months and 29 days of supervised probation, and ordered to pay $26,847.14 in restitution to the ASPCA and $2,793.19 to the Marshall County Humane Society, which will be suspended pending successful completion of the probation terms. As part of the probation, the Garrisons are prohibited from owning, harboring and/or residing at any residence with animals for five years.

"The ASPCA is pleased the defendants are taking responsibility for subjecting these dogs to a life of pain and suffering," said Tim Rickey, senior director of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. Rickey, who was the lead investigator for the ASPCA and worked alongside the local authorities, added, "These animals were living in deplorable conditions, many suffering from neglect and lack of veterinary care. The ASPCA appreciates the diligence of the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office for seeing this case through to the end. We hope to continue our work in investigating puppy mills and rid the nation of this cruel and inhumane industry."

"I am pleased that the cases are concluded with a message sent to others who attempt such practices in Marshall County, that puppy mills and abuse to animals will not be tolerated under any circumstances during my tenure as County Prosecutor," added Shirley C. Byers of the Marshall Co. Prosecutor's Office. "My greatest satisfaction is that the 96 dogs and one cat rescued from the defendants are now happily living in safe and loving homes, which overshadows the sight and smell of the deplorable conditions of the defendant's property in February 2010."

On February 4, 2010, the ASPCA dispatched its Field Investigations and Response team to assist in the investigation and removal of more than 100 dogs from a puppy mill in Holly Springs, Miss., under the request and authority of the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office. Following the seizure of the dogs, John and Nancy Garrison were both arrested and charged with 97 counts of animal cruelty. The dogs were signed over to the ASPCA and transferred to several animal welfare agencies, including the ASPCA's Adoption Center in New York, for adoption.

Groups assisting the ASPCA included the American Humane Association, Marshall County Humane Society, and Mississippi State University and Collierville (Tenn.) Humane Society veterinarians who helped provide medical care and treatment for the animals.

Puppy mills are substandard commercial breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mill dogs suffer from living in extremely unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization.

The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team has rescued countless dogs from puppy mills across the nation and aided in the prosecution of their owners. Furthermore, the ASPCA's Government Relations department has been active in drafting and promoting legislation that would strengthen regulations and raise minimum standards of care for dogs in puppy mills, most recently in Texas and Pennsylvania. Additionally, the ASPCA launched a national "No Pet Store Puppies" campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores.

For more information on the ASPCA's efforts to fight puppy mills, please visit www.nopetstorepuppies.com.