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
A state representative in Tennessee has removed a video from her YouTube channel that showed her holding her dog outside the window of a moving car and laughing as it went “air swimming.”
State Rep. Julia Hurley took the video down two days after posting it, but insisted — sounding a little like Mitt Romney talking about Seamus — that Pepper, a Chinese crested, enjoys being held out into the wind, outside of a fast moving car.
Hurley, who’s seeking a second term, said she removed the video because she “didn’t want to deal with” criticism she calls politically motivated. “I think it’s a liberal ploy to take the attention off the bills and the legislation I’ve passed and the positive things I’ve done, to make me look like a bad person,” the Lenoir City Republican said.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Hurley’s short video titled “Pepper Air Swims” was pulled two days after being posted on YouTube.
The newspaper wrote about the video after being contacted by the Rev. Peggy Blanchard, who criticized the video in an email. “I find Ms. Hurley’s behavior to be extremely unkind and irresponsible. While Ms. Hurley and her friend are laughing and having fun, the dog is clearly terrified.”
“This sort of behavior exhibited by a person who has a position of leadership sets a very poor example of behavior for both adults and children,” Blanchard wrote.
Hurley countered, “My dog obviously enjoys it. She’s very happy.” Still, she said, the backlash could lead her to stop posting social media updates.
“People say they want a legislator they can relate to, they want an open-door policy and know everything that’s going on,” she said. “But you try to give them that, and they use it against you to try to make you look like a bad person.”
Pepper was the subject of previous media attention when the lawmaker was thrown out of the Roane County courthouse for bringing her dog along in March. She argued that the 11-pound dog is classified as a service animal, though she brought the pet along as a companion.
Upon her election to the House in 2010, Hurley drew national attention for crediting her success to the time she spent working at Hooters restaurants, in a two-page article for the chain’s magazine.
She was the subject of another embarassing video, as well, when a state trooper pulled her over in 2011 for speeding, and a dashboard camera recorded the hard time she gave the officer about the ticket she received. Here’s that video:
(Photo: Erik Schelzig / Associated Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air swimming, animals, car, car surfing, chinese crested, criticism, cruelty, dog, dogs, held, highway, highway patrol, hooters, hurley, julia, pepper, pets, representative, republican, road, romney, roof, seamus, speeding, state, tennessee, ticket, traffic, window
Despite earlier reports that she was expected to survive, the dog thrown off a bridge in Lithuania has died, according to the Lithuanian website that has been credited with helping to track down the man who was videotaped doing the deed.
The man seen in the video, believed to be Svajunas Beniukas, 22, was filmed by friends as he joked about proving “dogs can fly,” then throwing the dog – named Pipiras, which means Pepper — off the side of the bridge.
Miraculously, the dog, whose whimpers can be heard on the video, survived, until this weekend.
I haven’t found an English version of the story yet, but ohmidog! readers inform me that this article on the website 15min.lt reports her death. A rough translation of the article into English can be found here.
The dog, who reportedly belonged to a neighbor of the suspect, received treatment for multiple fractures and internal injuries. According to reports, Beniuk was upset with the dog for attacking his mother’s chickens.
The dog was dropped from a bridge in the Vilkija district in Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania.
After the video appeared on Lithuanian websites, and then around the world, dog lovers helped identify the man as Beniukas. Upon learning of the hunt online, he turned himself in to police.
The dog had allegedly killed some of his mother’s chickens at her home in the village of Seredzius.
Beniukas, who lives in Kaunas, has been charged with animal cruelty. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 15min.lt, animal cruelty, bridge, dead, death, died, dies, dog, injuries, internet, kaunas, lithuania, lithuanian, online, pepper, pipiras, survived, svajunas beniukas, thrown, video, videotaped
A Lab mix rescued from a mountain pass in Washington two months ago helped rescue another stray stranded near the same spot.
Blewett was rescued — in the true meaning of the word — back in March from Blewett Pass, where he was spotted huddling in the snow.
Several attempts to catch him had failed. The dog would take food, but wouldn’t allow anyone to put a leash around his neck. Backcountry skiers, snowmobile riders, snowplow drivers and U.S. Forest Service employees fed the dog and kept an eye on him until a Wenatchee Valley Humane Society animal control officer teamed up with a snowmobiler, an animal rescuer and a snowplow driver March 10 to capture the dog. Humane Society employees named the dog Blewett.
An article about the rescue effort appeared in The Wenatchee World and was seen by Jay Smith and his wife, Janie, who had lost their black lab the month before. When they saw the picture of Blewett in the paper — and how much he resembled their deceased dog – Smith went to the shelter and adopted him.
Which brings us back to this week, when the Smiths were walking Blewett on a trail high above the Wenatchee River. Blewett started barking, and raced down the steep bank to find another animal close to the river’s edge.
Smith went home and called the fire department, and rescuers using ropes lowered themselves down to the river. Blewett ran down and stayed with the dog until the rescuers arrived, the Wenatchee World reported. The dog was weak, old and arthritic, but otherwise uninjured.
As it turned out, the dog had been staying with one of the Smith’s neighbors, Carol Hurt, to whom he was returned.
“The whole thing is a miracle,” said Hurt. The 11-year-old dog, named Pepper, belonged to her visiting daughter and had been lost since Saturday. “One big black lost dog found the other big black lost dog. It’s pretty heartwarming.”
(Photo: Blewett, after his March rescue; Wenatchee World)