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State seizes 240 dogs from Mauckport puppy mill

June 03, 2009 | 08:43 AM

As a veterinarian readied a syringe with vaccination medicine, volunteer Nadine Allee of Valparaiso clutched a small, shaking, black-and-white Yorkie mix tight to her chest in the dark, cool basement of a warehouse in New Albany. After the dog received a shot, was weighed and had its ears cleaned, it was given deworming medication, scanned for a microchip and then sent to a cage.

"Another one down," Allee said, as another volunteer took the Yorkie mix away and handed Allee another canine.

Candice Staub of Terre Haute, who is a volunteer for the Humane Society of the United States of America, holds one of the dogs as she talks with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Photos by Alan Stewart (click for larger version)
The process was repeated over and over after workers with the Indiana Attorney General's office, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Revenue, the Humane Society of Missouri and the Humane Society of the United States of America converged on a puppy mill yesterday morning (Tuesday) in the 8600 block of Valley City-Mauckport Road near Mauckport to investigate alleged sales tax evasion by the property owner and her daughter.

Owning property collectively known as the Breezy Valley Dairy Farm, Virginia Garwood, 63, and her daughter, Kristen Garwood, 26, allegedly failed to pay at least $135,000 in sales taxes as part of a puppy mill business they operated from the elder Garwood woman's home.

In all, 240 puppies — living both inside and outside the residence — were confiscated and taken to New Albany, where they were sent through a triage-like area staffed by volunteers from across the region for possible future adoption at shelters across the country.

"It's not realistic for one or two or even three people to have that many dogs. We have 60 volunteers and we're overwhelmed, and we'll only have those volunteers for a couple of days," Anne Sterling, regional director of the Humane Society of the United States of America, said.

One dead puppy was found on the property; it was unclear how long the animal had been deceased.

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, a Humane Society volunteer, helped confiscate the dogs, which ranged in age from a couple of days to a few years.

Lawson, who was the author of the recently-passed Indiana HB 1468 (Puppy Mill Bill), said based on what she saw, the dogs' living conditions were "absolutely, positively" animal cruelty.

A pug mix stares out from her cage. (click for larger version)
"Some dogs were covered in feces, their nails were 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch long, some had matted hair and sores in their eyes. Some dogs were sheltered from the sun, and some were not. The only water they had was yellow and nasty," Lawson said. "It was pretty bad."

Some of the dogs are believed to be infected with giardia, which is a highly-contagious gastrointestinal disease.

"We're proud to assist with the rescue of these neglected dogs and relieved they will soon be given a second chance at life," Sterling said. "I am hopeful that the recent passage of HB 1468 will allow us to crack down on cruel puppy mills, like the Breezy Valley Farm, across Indiana."

Although believed by Humane Society personnel to have been neglected, the dogs were officially seized as a result of failure to pay taxes.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon at Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said no criminal charges had been filed in the case, which is being pursued as a case of jeopardy assessment, which is a special immediate assessment of an alleged tax deficiency levied under federal and/or state law when a taxing entity believes a delay may jeopardize collection of the claim.

"We have not filed criminal charges at this point," Zoeller said. "It's an ongoing criminal investigation; however, it could eventually lead to charges."

The Garwoods possibly could face charges ranging from failure to keep and preserve records (a Class A misdemeanor) to Class D felony failure to remit sales tax, to two other Class D felonies, falsification of income tax records and failure to maintain tax records (Virginia Garwood claimed zero income on her 2007 Indiana individual income tax return). Because the business was never registered with the Indiana Department of Revenue, the Garwoods also could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

In addition to seizing 240 dogs, state officials ran forensics tests on computer hard drives and thumbed through paperwork in Virginia Garwood's side yard yesterday morning.

The attorney general's office was tipped off by consumer complaints after customers had allegedly purchased puppies from the Garwoods but, according to the search warrant, never were given a receipt and were always told to pay cash for their dogs.

The Garwoods allegedly sold their dogs for hundreds of dollars each. According to court documents, Kristen Garwood allegedly sold a male Yorkie Poo puppy to an investigator for $250, and another investigator paid $300 for a female Yorkie Poo.

On Jan. 30, Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue told state attorney general officials that he had attempted to visit Garwood's property but she had ordered him to leave.

In February, IAG Special Investigator Michael E. Smith was assigned to look into reports of a business selling puppies in violation of Indiana law regarding income tax, sales tax and business registration.

LaHue provided the attorney general's office with copies of advertisements from this newspaper as well as The (Louisville) Courier-Journal offering puppies for sale at the address matching Garwood's.

The Corydon Democrat's records showed that, at various times between and including April 2006 and April 2009, the Garwoods advertised for sale both adults and puppies of various breeds, including Boston terriers, Cockapoos, rat terriers, Yorkie mixes, Puggles, poodles, Australian shepherds and Border collies.

Indiana Department of Revenue records revealed that neither woman has remitted Indiana sales tax at any time. Further, neither one of the Garwoods nor Breezy Valley Dairy Farm are registered as a retail merchant in Indiana, nor have they registered to do business in the state as required by law. Failure to charge or remit sales tax and failure to keep and preserve sales-tax records are felonies under Indiana law. The offenses fall under the attorney general's jurisdiction.

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  1. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 10:17 AM

    This is great news and I hope these people get jail time. For more info about puppy mills, go to WWW.HSUS.ORG or WWW.ASPCA.ORG/FIGHT-ANIMAL-CRUELTY/PUPPY-MILLS.

    Ray Wilson
  2. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 11:45 AM

    People who abuse animals are usually abusing humans as well. Maybe a very thourough investigation should be done ...

    Rosemary Shewmaker Smith
  3. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 11:51 AM

    How do we volunteer?

  4. print email
    A rip off revealed
    June 03, 2009 | 01:08 PM

    This makes me wonder how many people are being ripped off when buying various unregistered "breeds" such as "Yorkie Poos" and "Cocker Poos" etc. Many probably originate from these puppy mills. I hope they soon catch more of these ... "breeders".

  5. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 01:20 PM

    How do we adopt?

  6. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 01:58 PM

    How could anyone treat animals so poorly? I am so glad that all these animals were rescued from these horrible conditions. I never dreamed a puppy mill was running in Harrison County.

  7. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 02:17 PM

    ... How did they have enough money to feed these animals? Couldn't they tell that things were out of control, and they didn't have the resources to care for all the animals? What about the rest of the animals on the farm? Are the dairy animals and other livestock living in good coniditions?

  8. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 04:50 PM

    Please let the public know how to adopt?????

  9. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 05:52 PM

    Why doesn't our government step in and stop these puppy mills? If we prosecute and punish these people that would stop the abuse ... Maybe these women could be put in cages and set in the hot sun or winter weather and see how they like it. Make sure they get the same kind of food and water that was given to these animals. This goes for anyone who would treat an animal in such a horrid way.

  10. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 05:57 PM


  11. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 06:22 PM

    Maybe anyone who has had a dog dissappear in the last few years should visit the shelter to see if their lost dog is among these dogs?

  12. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 06:33 PM

    What a sad story.
    However I feel, thanks to the Indiana Attorney General's Office, Mr. Bruce LaHue and many many other volunteers these precious animals indeed have a second chance. Thank You All!!!

  13. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 10:00 PM

    Great work! I would love to adopt one of these dogs
    A heartbreaking story with a very happy ending!

  14. print email
    June 03, 2009 | 10:44 PM

    Kind of funny, people are saying how did they get money to feed them? Hmm, puppy sales. But do you really think that at those prices $300 and less for puppies that they were turning the kind of profit to truly owe 135,000 in taxes? I highly doubt it ...

  15. print email
    Adoption information
    June 04, 2009 | 02:52 AM

    The dogs and puppies were distributed throughout organized canine rescues organizations and shelters in Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. Locally, you can inquire at the New Albany animal shelter for information on the majority of dogs they ended up accepting for adoption. Thank you for caring!!

  16. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 12:30 PM


  17. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 12:30 PM

    According to the Humane Society of United States, once the dogs are ready to be adopted -- which will depend due to any illness or injuries the dogs may have as well as vary by shelter -- the dogs can be adopted by contacting the shelters individually. They are as follows:

    New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter -- (812) 948-5355

    Humane Society of Kentucky -- (502) 366-3355

    Humane Society of Missouri -- (314) 951-1562

    Bloomington Animal Care & Control -- (812) 349-3400

    Humane Society of Indianapolis -- (317) 872-5650

    Humane Society Calumet Area -- (219) 922-3811

    Humane Society of Northwest Indiana -- (219) 938-3339

    Pet Refuge -- (574) 256-0886

    Dauschund Rescue of North America

    Thanks to everyone for your concern and questions regarding adoption of these dogs.

    Alan Stewart
  18. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 12:45 PM

    Take the farm and put them permenantly out of business. What comes around goes around and the circle has been closed.

  19. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 02:39 PM

    Thank goodness Harrison County has an animal control facility and great job to Bruce Lahue and all the others and a big thank you to all the people that cared enough to volunteer

  20. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 04:01 PM

    I am so GLAD that this mill has been closed ... I adopted my girl from the local humane society almost 2 yrs ago and she was rescued from a puppy mill in missouri, used to breed over and over. She is so lovable and a true joy to me, I love her sooooo much. Actually she rescued me and I rescued her! I advise everyone to only adopt (aquire new pets) from humane societys. Pet stores almost always have pets for sale that are benefiting puppy mills. Adoptable pets need good loving homes and people that will take excellant care of them. If you can't afford to care for a pet properly then you don't need a pet. A pet needs fresh food and water daily in clean dishes, proper clean enviroment to live in, preferably indoors. Be able to afford veterinary care, pets need annual check ups and vaccinations, not to mention if they get sick or hurt. can you afford to take your furbaby to the vet? NEVER EVER chain or cage a dog. This in my opinion is cruelty. Please adopt only cause you WANT a pet to love and to give love to you. Furbabys give unconditional love. Don't make an immediate decision, think about it for a few days, talk to your family, look at your finances. All they ask for is love.

    Donna White
  21. print email
    Puppy mills
    June 04, 2009 | 04:47 PM

    There are a lot of people out there selling a lot of dogs and making money I have a neighbor that sells pit bulls they have them in a make shift pen or tied out in the middle of a subdivision and get loose constantly and attack other neighbors dogs ... we need some new pet laws on the books in this county and they need to be enforced.

    Angry Resident
  22. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 05:19 PM

    These people should be repremanded.

  23. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 07:48 PM

    ... I am glad the puppies and dogs were rescued. I just hope all puppy mills will eventually be shut down.

  24. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 08:35 PM

    I have always said that these people need to have to live like they make these poor defenseless animals live for awhile and see what it is like. If you buy a dog from a person, a pet store or sometimes even a breeder you can be getting one from a puppy mill. We have to have stricter laws on this. And as they say people that abuse an animal are only one step away from abusing a person. I'm sorry but I do not feel sorry for the breeders, I feel sorry for these defenseless animals. All you hear from the breeders are excuses - that is all. I am in the process of starting a website to try to help and get information out there about puppy mills, places that have been shut down, etc. that is called and I hope that it will be done soon. However there is a lot of information out there to get together. I would also like to get involved personally in helping get these puppy mills shut down.

    Nancy Rodgers
  25. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 09:39 PM

    They also bring nearly 100 goats to the county fair each year along with beef & dairy cattle. Maybe someone should investigate how well they are taking care of their livestock, too. If they have that many animals to bring to the fair, what about the ones who are not in good enough shape to bring? Who knows how well they are being taken care of? I sure do hope this puts them out of the animal business permanently.

  26. print email
    Thank God for Good People
    June 04, 2009 | 10:50 PM

    There is a lot of hate for these 2 women, but what I see is there is not a lot of THANK YOUS for all the 60 to 100 volunteers!!!!! Thank God for people that put in the time to help the anilmals. In a week when this story is not so big, we will still need 60 to 100 people to work on getting the dogs walked, feeded, watered, meds given and homes found. It takes a long time to get 240 animals a new home and with out volunteers a lot of the dogs and puppies might be put down. So dont stop here.

    Mel Bays
  27. print email
    June 04, 2009 | 11:37 PM

    I was in complete shock when I read the story in the Courier-Journal.I am wanting to adopt a female chihuahua when they are ready to be adopted.My family and I are ready to give one of them a new forever home.We already have a 4 year old female chihuahua who is longing for a friend.

    Nikki Shireman
  28. print email
    June 05, 2009 | 12:14 AM

    on the average 200 dogs x's 4 puppies 2times a year is 1600 puppies sold at $200 each is $320,000. Some of the dogs have a lot more puppies then that. I'd say they had plenty money to feed them and over 3 years that's lot of taxes they should have paid.

  29. print email
    June 05, 2009 | 12:34 PM

    am I wrong or did the state shut this place down because it was a puppy mill, or because it was Taxes? i Think it was for taxes.

  30. print email
    June 05, 2009 | 03:58 PM

    I think that it is awesome that the puppies were taken away from the harsh conditions, but seriously would anything had even been done if it wasn't for the fact that they didn't pay their taxes? Considering that the article didn't say anything about them getting charged for animal cruelty, I think in the gov'ts eyes it just a fact of not getting their money. I think that it is ridiculous that it takes tax evasion for these people to get shut down, this should have been done a lot sooner.

  31. print email
    June 05, 2009 | 09:24 PM

    what comes around goes around ...

  32. print email
    Good Job!!
    June 06, 2009 | 06:59 PM

    yes, I agree there are alot of questions yet to be answered.
    That is what the State Attorney General's Office is all about.
    Please contact them with your questions and concerns.
    Make this effort. you will be glad you did.

  33. print email
    Step up or Shut up
    June 08, 2009 | 12:53 PM

    I love my dog (from a reputable breeder, go see the facility for yourself). I also love my two cats(the offspring of a drive by dump and dash). I love my Cockatiel (a rescue). I even love my son's hermit crab (given to him by someone that couldn't care for it anymore).

    Now there are 240 more dogs waiting to be euthenized in your local animal shelters. The poor dogs that were there 2 weeks ago didn't get the same attention as these 240, but some were in the same or worse conditions as these dogs.

    You cry boo hoo, those poor dogs, yippee those dang breeders got caught and should go to jail. Now cry I'll take that one and rescue a dog or cat.

    I challenge you all to Step up or Shut up!!

    Straight Shooter
Schuler Bauer Real Estate
Riggs Towing
Debby Broughton
Best Built
Alberto's Italian Restaurant
Barbara Shaw
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