Last week Jackson County Animal Control officers and representatives from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which regulates dog breeding in Georgia, launched an investigation and shut down L&D Farm and Kennel, a classic puppy mill. The happened after 19 year old Tiffany Butler,of Nicholson, a former employee, filed a complaint about hundreds of dogs were living in deplorable conditions; feces and urine soaked, sick, covered in sores and mange without proper food or water available.

Now we have arrests and charges stemming from the investigation; owners Jennifer Marie Hughes, 34; Brandy Shree Stone, 25; Marie Hughes; and Ronnie Hughes were each charged this week with five felony and 55 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

Last night animal control officers began removing more than 300 dogs the kennel after a Jackson County Magistrate Court judge ordered the canines impounded as evidence in a cruelty case against four people.

Authorities hope that Marie Hughes, who holds the kennel license for L&D Farm and Kennel, will surrender ownership of the dogs but officers plan to ask Jackson County Magistrate Court Judge Billy Chandler to terminate her ownership rights if she refuses to sign over the animals. This way the dogs will have a chance to be adopted.

Although they do not have a final total of dogs, since some have had puppies since the close down, Jackson County Humane Society and Rhonda Stibbens, a county animal control officer, have secured housing for 240 of the dogs and have tentative plans to house the rest.

“We still have the 296 dogs we started with last week,” Hampton said. “But I couldn’t tell you exactly how many there are. There are still pregnant dogs out there and so, well, you know how they do.”

“We need to show that we’re treating them better than the people we say were mistreating them, and house them in an environment that is superior to one we’re saying wasn’t fit,” Hampton said. “If there is any problem, we want to show that we are offering better, a higher level of care.”

Marie Hughes faces possible fines from the state Department of Agriculture’s Animal Protection Division for violating the terms of her kennel license in addition to criminal charges.

In addition, E.C. Brogan, director of the Jackson County code enforcement and animal control departments, gave his department’s file on the kennel to Jackson County District Attorney Richard Bridgeman on Thursday for possible action.

Source – Athens Online

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