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Officials pause puppy mill investigation

More than 125 dogs were removed from a home after animal cruelty allegations.
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Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 19:58:54-05

OPELOUSAS, La. — The person at the center of allegations of animal abuse in St. Landry Parish is not currently facing any charges.

The St. Landry Sheriff Office and the parish’s animal control are waiting until all small dogs removed from the home are evaluated to see if the investigation moves forward.

Around 150 small dogs were removed from a home after deputies and animal control got a tip that the owner of the house was violating the parish’s cruelty ordinance.

“They were caged up, it wasn’t good,” said Parish President Jessie Bellard. “It just wasn't a good situation.”

Officials say what they found in this house was definitely an unsafe environment for the animals.

“They were stacked on top of each other in cages in different rooms of the house,” said Van Reed, public information officer for St. Landry Parish. “They were three or four a cage.”

The investigation is currently being led by St. Landry Parish Animal Control, but that could change.

“If it becomes a criminal issue, then it will be brought back into the sheriff's office immediately,” said Bellard. “The vet’s report is going to determine a lot of what we do next.”

They are waiting for the vet to evaluate all the animals removed from the home to see if the owner indeed violated the parish’s animal cruelty ordinance, which reads:

“It shall be unlawful to be cruel or inhumane to any animal. Such cruelty or inhumaneness shall include, but not be limited to beating, torturing, overloading, overdriving, mutilating, failure to provide adequate feed, adequate water, shelter medical care, abandoning an animal, poisoning an animal, or cruelly killing an animal.”

Bellard told KATC the parish doesn’t want to hurt the person’s business, but they also want to protect the animals involved.

“She’s running a business, so we don’t want to stop her business, but we want to make sure it’s done properly and safely for the animals,” he said.

KATC went to the location where officers executed the search warrant, but the people in the house refused to comment.

Bellard says they’ve hired a private veterinarian so they can have an independent view of the health of the dogs.

So far, none of the animals removed from the home have been put up for adoption.

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