Once we reached Galatia, Illinois, we stopped at a small gas station to buy a newspaper. I asked the woman behind the cash register if she knew where I could find a puppy. She quickly responded “Yes” and called Betty Morris to arrange for our visit. I asked this woman her name and she replied “Joyce – Joyce Patterson.” She said that she used to work for Ms. Morris and at one time had her own kennel, but had closed it and sold off her dogs. Willie, the Dachshund rescued from Lorton’s wore an ID tag with Joyce Patterson’s name and USDA number. Joyce gave us directions to Ms. Morris’ kennel. The directions she gave us were out of the way. We did not follow her directions, but went the quicker route.
We arrived at Ms. Morris’ place. When we pulled up her drive, we saw junky trailers (house), double-decked hutch style dog enclosures, and a small shack. The shack, Ms. Morris explained, was where she allowed visitors (perspective buyers) to look at puppies. She generally does not allow people back by her breeding dogs due to disease control.
At first, Ms. Morris was nowhere to be found. So, I snooped around and saw her quickly trying to spray feces from fecal trays before we were supposed to show up. She was using cold water out of a garden hose (3.11(b)(3)-Sanitization of primary enclosures). We introduced ourselves and she instructed us to wait for her back at the “shack” (the puppy visiting place) near the driveway. We attempted to linger near the dog enclosures, but she adamantly insisted that we do as she said.
Once inside the puppy shack, we noticed that the walls were neither sealed with paint nor impervious to moisture and the ceiling consisted of rolled insulation (3.2(d)-Indoor housing facilities-Interior Surfaces). The floor was a piece of linoleum with a very dirty remnant of carpet that smelled like urine (3.1(c)(1)and (3)-Housing facilities, Surfaces). Dried blood stains and filth were evident on flooring (3.1(c)( 1) and (3) (3.11(b)(3)(iii)-Sanitization of primary enclosures). A table against the back wall of this one room shack contained APR papers, small bags of puppy food (one opened), ID collars, bloody napkins, a small garbage can with dog food in the bottom and paper cups, napkins and other garbage thrown on top. There were plastic lawn chairs, boxes and towels cluttering the room (3.1(b)-Housing facilities, Condition and site).
Ms. Morris brought two female Chihuahuas in first and placed a jagged piece of fencing in the entrance to prevent the puppies from escaping. She then left us alone with the puppies.
The pups appeared to be in fair health (clean coat, clear eyes), but were shy upon my approach. They appeared to lack proper socialization with humans and seemed happy when I left them alone. They preferred their own kind.
When Ms. Morris returned, she had two more Chihuahua pups. They also appeared in fair health but lacked socialization. Ms. Morris chased them and grabbed at them, then handed them to me. They were scared. She said that you just have to grab at them fast to catch them. I asked Ms. Morris about the dried blood on the floor and she replied that it was from trimming toenails too short and made their feet bleed (2.40-Veterinary care).
We left the puppies alone for a short while – no grabbing or chasing – and they started to run and play with each other. Then, they urinated on the carpet remnant. Ms. Morris did not attempt to clean (3.1(c)(3)-Cleaning). The pups started defecating. One would defecate and the others would eat it (2.40(3)-Veterinary care). Ms. Morris made a poor attempt to clean it up and then sprayed air freshener onto the carpet remnant. She also squirted one pup directly in the face – it gagged, coughed, sneezed and rubbed its eyes with its paws. I do not feel this squirting was deliberate, but Ms. Morris showed no concern or remorse for the pup.
Ms. Morris announced that the Lord provides for her through these dogs. She also expressed that there have been many times that if it weren’t for the dog money she would have been out on the street or starving. She then informed us that there are about 3000 laws protecting animals from abuse and suffering. More laws for dogs than for battered women and children.
Finally, she agreed to let us tour the facility. We noticed mostly white double-decked sheltered housing. The trays had fecal accumulation (3.11-Cleaning of primary enclosures). There were several Shih Tzus, including an apricot one that was matted so badly that you could not tell his face from his hind end (2.40-Veterinary care). Ms. Morris screamed at us to get away from his cage. “He will bite your finger off,” she yelled.
She had many Schnauzer pups with diarrhea in their cage, in the tray underneath their cage and crusted to their bodies (2.40-Veterinary care) (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures).
Beyond this area were rows of hutch style enclosures with dens attached. The dens were painted white. The paint was cracked and peeling. These enclosures contained breeding stock Schnauzers. They were severely matted (2.40), overcrowded (3.6(a)(2)(xi)-Primary enclosures) and lacked sufficient headroom (3.6(c)(1)(iii)-Primary enclosures). Under these enclosures were puddles of standing urine and some fecal accumulation (3.11-Cleaning of primary enclosures). The tops of these enclosures were entirely covered with white tarps. Ms. Morris again screamed to get away from that area and to stay right by her.
Ms. Morris then showed me a manufactured sheltered housing unit that was not being used yet. She bought it from a company in Missouri, and they delivered and assembled it. This unit had plastic coated wire cages, heat, air conditioning, automatic water and food receptacles. It conforms to the USDA manual perfectly – too perfect for me. I’m pretty sure Ms. Morris has had her share of trial and error through USDA and now a company has answered her prayers with this all ready up to code housing.
We tried to look around, but Ms. Morris would only allow us in certain areas where she was. She screamed at us if we wandered too far away.
A nursing Schnauzer was in a top row enclosure that had a large amount of feces in her cage (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). As we passed by, she jumped around and smeared feces through the bottom of the wire and all over her feet. She then jumped up and smeared feces on the sides of her cage (3.6(a)(2)(v)-Primary enclosures). Also, a Dachshund had a coffee can for a water bowl and different breeds, male and female, were living together in cages.
At that time, some people arrived to buy a Schnauzer puppy. I could tell by their demeanor that they had no problem with Ms. Morris’ Dog Farm. They didn’t seem to care how the adult dogs had to live as long as they got their precious puppy! Ms. Morris had a sale so she was ready for us to leave. We pulled up further onto the property to turn around – now we could see part of the facility that Ms. Morris wouldn’t allow us near earlier. Here I saw more dilapidated conditions of enclosures and dogs – some very matted poodles (2.40-Veterinary care) and cage upon cage of Dachshunds with overcrowded conditions (3.6(2)(xi)-Primary enclosures). Many of Ms. Morris’ newer cages were empty. Maybe these were Joyce Patterson’s breeding stock. Also, the grounds and property were littered with debris and junk (3.11(c)-Housekeeping for premises).
It was evident that Ms. Morris’ primary concerns were money and praying to the Lord so she can pass USDA inspections. Ben Flarlage, ACI, found no non-compliances during his 8/29/01 inspection. CAPS inspectors found numerous violations just one month later.