Another ‘random source’ dealer goes down
Two practitioners of one of this country’s most despicable occupations — even though it’s legal — entered guilty pleas yesterday and admitted they had been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by research facilities for fraudulently obtained dogs.
Floyd and Susan Martin of Shippensburg, Pa., were what’s known as Class B, or “random source,” dog dealers, and between 2005 and 2010 they sold hundreds of dogs to some of the nation’s leading medical institutions, including Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities.
There’s nothing wrong — at least in the legal view — with that, assuming one has a license, which the Martins did.
What the Martins got in trouble for was buying too many dogs from individual sources, and lying about it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Class B dealers may purchase dogs from unlicensed individuals — often called “bunchers” – who collect dogs from various sources. But, under the law, Class B dealers are not allowed to buy more than 24 dogs a year from any single individual.
According to the indictment, the Martins purchased hundreds of dogs from just two individuals while falsely certifying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that they had purchased no more than 24 dogs from any single source.
Two co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment — those who supplied the dogs to the Martins – have not been charged.
Class B dealers have traditionally purchased dogs from “bunchers,” who often collect dogs from auctions, shelters, the street, and through responding to “free to good home” pet ads.
According to prosecutors, the bunchers working with the Martins procured dogs from sources in 10 states and sold them to the Martins for $50 to $75 each. The Martins then sold the dogs to hospitals and other research labs for hundreds of dollars in profit per dog, the indictment said.
In federal court in Harrisburg yesterday, the Martins, who operated Chestnut Grove Kennel, entered guilty pleas to reduced charges
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that, under a deal with prosecutors, Floyd Martin pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, for which he will serve a year in prison, while Susan Martin pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy, for which she will be placed on probation.
The sentence, which also requires the Martins to to pay $300,000 in restitution, will not be official until U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III reviews a presentence report before their June 26 sentencing hearing in Harrisburg.
The case provides a glimpse into the shady world of dog-dealing, which first came to light in Pennsylvania in the 1960s after a stolen pet ended up in a research hospital in New York. Pepper, a dalmatian, was taken from her yard in 1965 and ended up being used in a cardiac pacemaker experiment, which killed her.
Her story helped lead to the passage of the federal Animal Welfare Act in 1966, establishing humane standards for animals in laboratory settings and regulating dealers that sold to them.
Despite those regulations, there was still plenty of room for sleazy behavior.
“We’re talking about an abuse-ridden system of acquiring animals for research,” said Nancy Blaney, senior federal policy adviser for the Animal Welfare Institute, a national advocacy group. ” ‘Random source’ is what it sounds like it is. They can get animals from individuals who respond to ‘free to good home’ ads or animals being stolen. We know because they have been traced through micro-chipping.”
Only six licensed random source dealers remain in operation in the country, and half of them are under federal investigation, the Inquirer reported. The National Institutes of Health said in 2011 that it would phase out use of dogs from Class B dealers by 2015.
In the 1990s, tens of thousands of dogs were being supplied to universities and other medical research institutes. By 2010, the number had dipped to 3,100.
About 3 percent of dogs used in biomedical research in the United States come from random-source dealers, with the rest being supplied by breeders who raise dogs for that specific purpose.
(Photos: Top, Chestnut Grove Kennel, by Dan Gleiter / The Patriot-News; bottom, Pepper and the Lakavage family)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, chestnut grove kennel, class b, dalmatian, dealers, dealing, department of agriculture, dog, dogs, experiments, floyd martin, free to good home, laboratory, labs, licensing, medical, pennsylvania, pepper, pets, random source, research, supply, susan martin, universities