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Convicted Wash. state puppy mill owners selling in Canada amid new accusations

Convicted Wash. state puppy mill owners selling in Canada amid new accusations
Convicted Wash. state puppy mill owners selling in Canada amid new accusations
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

On Friday, July 11, 2014, KGMI News reported that a couple convicted of animal cruelty charges in Washington State is in trouble again – this time for selling a sick dog to a British Columbia resident. James and Tarasa Shively were convicted of animal cruelty charges in Whatcom County, Washington in February. They were banned from owning or possessing dogs in Washington State for two years.

During an investigation, more than 30 dogs were found in their luxury home in Bellingham on the Mount Baker Highway. All of the animals were living in filthy conditions. Investigators found 30 dogs, 12 of which were living in small cages where they were unable to turn around. They also found 19 puppies living in their own excrement. The animals did not have access to food or water and one of the dogs had an untreated broken leg that had to be amputated.

CBC News reports that the couple retrieved their animals from the Whatcom Humane Society before the judge imposed the ban on owning or possessing dogs – and from there, they traveled to Canada. The couple have been accused of selling a parasite-infested puppy to a North Vancouver in June of this year, and even though James Shively's name is on the paperwork to sell the puppy, the couple disagrees.

"We've got out of the dog-breeding business because we couldn't keep operating with attacks coming from all sides," stated James Shively. According to the couple, all of their dogs were sold in Ontario when they arrived in Canada.

"They were really nasty and aggressive down there. So I wouldn't put a lot of faith in what they said...The conditions weren't as bad as they were saying they were," he stated.

Shively added: "And the broken leg — it was treated and we did deal with that. It was an accident. She just fell off the stairs. They took everything they could and just blew it out of proportion. So we're not doing that anymore because of just all the constant attacks and battles. It's not worth it."

Despite the couple's assertions that they were no longer in the dog breeding business, they had a website up called "Emerald Waters Kennel" that his since been taken down. According to Laura Clark with the Whatcom Humane Society, it’s a “heartbreaking situation” and animal cruelty laws need to be stronger to protect animals.

According to the Whatcom Humane Society, the British Columbia SPCA has been uncooperative. B.C. SPCA's Marcie Moriarty heads up animal cruelty investigations and stated that the society cannot share information on investigations because of Canadian privacy laws.

She is in favor of an international database of convicted animal abuse offenders.

"We're all for systems that are transparent and really flush out these people who are harming animals and harming consumers," Moriarty stated.

Puppy mills are commercial dog-breeding facilities that maintain low overhead to maximize profits. These operations are inhumane and disregard the psychological, physical, and emotional well-being of the animals involved. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), puppy mills are problematic because they contribute to pet overpopulation and cause the suffering of countless dogs who face lifetimes living in squalid wire cages.

The HSUS estimates that there are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. - and fewer than 3,000 of these are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966, which is enforced by the USDA, outlines specific minimum standards of care for dogs, cats, and some other animals bred for commercial resale. Under the AWA, large-scale commercial breeders are required to be licensed and regularly inspected by the USDA, but many operations avoid these inspections because of current loopholes.

Currently, only large-scale commercial facilities that sell animals for resale are required to be licensed and inspected by the USDA. Those that sell directly to the public are not required to adhere to the Animal Welfare Act.

In Washington State under RCW 16.52.310, any person who owns or possesses more than 10 dogs
with intact sexual organs over four months and keeps the dogs in an enclosure for the majority of the day, must:

(1) provide adequate space for normal postural movements without any part of the dogs’ bodies touching each other or the sides of the enclosure, and must meet minimum length and height requirements;

(2) provide each dog over four months with at least one hour of exercise daily - either leash walking or access to an enclosure with at least four times space required for the primary enclosure with no treadmill-type devices permitted;

(3) maintain adequate housing facilities and primary enclosures that are kept sanitary, sufficiently ventilated and lit, have a means of fire suppression, enable dogs to remain dry and clean, provide shelter and protection from extreme temperatures and weather conditions, provide shade, have floors that protect dogs' feet and legs from injury, are not stacked on top of another primary enclosure, and house only animals that are compatible;

(4) provide dogs with easy access to adequate food and water; provide veterinary care without delay when necessary, breed dogs only between 12 months and 8 years and when approved by veterinarian, and employ a veterinarian for all euthanasia.

According to the HSUS, there are currently no licensing requirements for Washington-state based puppy mills. The regulatory agency for puppy mills in Washington include local law enforcement agencies and animal control and care agencies.

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