Tuesday and Wednesday will mark the return of more than 160 dogs seized from a Texas breeder in 2012, KATV News reported August 11.
This week, the Humane Society of Pulaski County, Arkansas prepares the dogs for their trip home.
Sandra Nance, a Texas breeder, has fought a two year battle to have her dogs returned after they were taken by Lonoke County officials near Austin in June 2012. Click here to learn more about the original arrest.
A petition was started on change.org, where the bio information tells of the living condition these dogs faced
"On June 28, 2012, 137 dogs were confiscated from the property of Sandra and Marcus Nance, after it was determined that the dogs were living in deplorable conditions that subjected them to heat extremes of nearly 110 degree temperatures, with no cool water or shade. Many of these same dogs were living in their own feces. Due to a pending investigation, further information about their living conditions is unknown, but it is typical that dogs living in a puppy mill live in crowded cages, and receive little to no veterinary care, socialization, or grooming. The heat the day they were confiscated was so unbearable that one of the animal control officers at the scene collapsed from heat exhaustion"
The Humane Society of Pulaski County was put in charge of caring for the 137 dogs, whose number grew to 180 (spay/neutered wasn't allowed, as the dogs were still considered Nance's property). Sandra Nance was originally convicted on five counts of animal cruelty, but her husband was found not guilty.
Both were acquitted of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony charge that implies the animals were tortured.
The case eventually came up on appeal and made its way to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which ruled earlier in 2014 that it didn't have jurisdiction in this case.
A Lonoke County judge ordered the animals to be returned to Nance by August 13, 2014, after Nance won the dogs back in a May appeal.
Jerry Sallings, attorney for Sandra Nance stated to KATV,
"After learning through this process that 21 of her dogs died there and others suffered avoidable injuries...she's very comforted to know the dogs will finally be freed."
Essentially, Sandra Nance was convicted for keeping her dogs in poor conditions and not providing them with veterinary care, but not of running a puppy mill. The prosecution brought in veterinarians who testified to the poor conditions in which the dogs were kept and to their deteriorated health from lack of proper medical care.
Nance's defense was she was able to provide for the dogs herself, without the need for a veterinarian.
Sandra Nance raised her puppies in kennels about 100 feet from her home and sold them at a store in Searcy. These included Airedale terriers, schnauzers, Chihuahuas as well as English bulldogs. Now all of these dogs are being returned to Nance.
This week, the Humane Society of Pulaski County has been busy preparing the dogs for their return to the breeder. They've been bathed, played with and loved on by the staff and volunteers, who have mixed opinions on the dogs going back.
Gene Mullins, volunteer for the Humane Society told reporters
"I've been sick to my stomach thinking of all the effort and time that has gone into these dogs...It's a court order and we're legally obligated to obey it."
Debbie Howell with the HSPC is unsettled by the court order to return the dogs. Usually when dogs leave the care of the Humane Society of Pulaski County, it's to go to a forever home. Returning these dogs to Nance has left everyone concerned with mixed feelings, especially when factoring in it's unknown what will happen to them once they go back.
Those who cared for these dogs can never experience the "closure" that comes with an adoption made through the HS.
What's best for the dogs should be top priority. Is returning these dogs to Sandra Nance a good decision? Please leave a comment.