No one was home at the residence, but several large kennel buildings were present in the wooded yard behind the house. Because there were “no trespassing” signs posted, we investigated the kennels and the numerous dogs they housed.
The first building was on the right-hand side of the property just outside the wooded area. It was a large wooden structure, approximately ten feet wide and 30 to 40 feet long, with wire cages and white siding. The flooring of this building was made of wooden slats. The building was divided into ten to 12 individual cages, each housing two or three dogs of various breeds, including two Shar Peis and numerous Cocker Spaniels.
One cage also housed a Bichon and what appeared to be a Springer Spaniel. The building contained approximately 20 dogs in cages that were about six feet long, two feet wide, and six feet high. These cagese had plastic feeding bins and water bowls, most of which were chewed up and empty or filled with dirty water (3.10-Watering).
Directly across from building #1 stood another kennel structure that was approximately ten feet wide and 30 feet long, with approximately ten cages housing numerous King Charles Cavalier Spaniels. The flooring of this unit also was made of wooden slats that were three to four inches wide and spaced one to two inches apart. These cages contained red plastic feeding bins and chewed or empty water dishes (3.10-Watering). The dogs in this kennel, housed two to three per cage, appeared to be mostly female, and many were pregnant.
At the end of buildings #1 and #2 stood a wooden kennel elevated approximately two feet above the ground. This cage was about two feet wide, two feet high, and four feet long. The cage had wire floors and two small holes cut into a wooden shelter made at the back. No dogs were in this kennel.
The fourth building stood directly next to building #3; and both buildings faced a different direction than buildings #1 and #2. This fourth unit was divided into two cages, with two Jack Russell Terriers in one side and one Jack Russell Terrier in the other. The building stood approximately six feet wide, five feet long, and five feet high. Wooden boxes for shelter were at the rear of each cage; each box had a small hole cut in it for the dogs to enter and exit through. No feeder bins were present in either of these two cages, although there was an empty, dirty plastic bowl that had been chewed in one cage, along with a bowl of water so dirty it had turned green with algae (3.10-Watering).
The fifth building on the property also housed four to five Jack Russell Terriers and stood approximately five feet high, eight feet long, and five feet wide. The flooring of this building was made of wire, and there were only two small wooden boxes for shelter provided for all the dogs in this kennel (3.6(a)(2)(vii)-Primary Enclosures).
Building #6: The sixth unit on the property housing dogs was a fenced-off pen that contained two Bulldogs, presumably one male and one female. Several wooden tree limbs were stuck into the ground and wire fencing was attached to them to create a pen approximately 20 to 25 feet long and 5 feet wide. The dogs in this kennel had a large trough to drink from, though the water appeared very dirty (3.10-Watering).
There was also a five-gallon bucket in the corner of the pen filled with water that had not been changed in so long that it had turned green with algae (3.10-Watering).
The only shelter provided for these dogs was two large metal barrels tipped on their sides and propped with pieces of wood so that they would not roll (3.6(a)(1)-Primary Enclosures).
The seventh building on the property that investigators could see was a large kennel housing numerous Pugs. Investigators counted between 20 and 23 dogs here. The building itself was a large, shed-like structure on the far edge of the property at the top of a hill away from the other kennels.
This building had a row of cages on the outside where the Pugs were housed. These cages were approximately two feet wide, two feet high, and three feet long. The flooring in each cage was wire, and each had a small metal doggy door that allowed the Pugs to access the inside portion of the cage. Each cage housed two or three Pugs colored fawn, black, and brindle. One fawn-colored Pug, that was so old it couldn’t stand up, appeared to be pregnant.
Each cage contained a red plastic feeder bin and a water bowl, although most were tipped upside down or on their sides (3.10-Watering).
The side of this building had a screened door; through it investigators could only see several King Charles Cavalier Spaniels in pens on the other side of the kennel building. The barking of small dogs could be heard, but none could be seen, leading investigators to believe this particular section of the building might have been used as a whelping kennel since young puppies were not seen anywhere else on the premises.
We followed Ken Raber past his residence and along a path of tarp to a wooded area behind the house. About halfway down the path was a wooden kennel that housed several Beagles in elevated cages made of wire, positioned on the kennel side facing us. There were at least three cages on this side of the structure, possibly four – all of which contained empty water dishes (3.10-Watering).
More than 24 hours’ of fecal accumulation had built up beneath these cages (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures), and flies swarmed the dogs (3.11(d)(4)-Pest control).
The opposite side of this building also had three or four cages, but it was unclear whether dogs were currently housed on this side of the kennel. Bowls were present in these cages, but no dogs were seen.
To the left of this building was a Beagle tied to a tree – at least the fourth Beagle, possibly the fifth, on the property (3.6(c)(4)-Prohibited means of primary enclosure). This dog did not have any evident source of water (3.10-Watering).
At the end of the path was a double-decker-style kennel building that housed approximately 12 to 15 dogs. Raber had one male Boston terrier and at least three females of the same breed that he wanted to sell to us. He said if we didn’t buy them, he knew another man who wanted to a few weeks later. He also wanted to sell a female Miniature Pinscher as a pet because it was too small to breed and another Min Pin whose gender we did not learn.
Other cages in the kennel housed Chihuahuas – one of unknown gender and another that was obviously bred. The bred Chihuahua appeared to be suffering from advanced hair loss (2.40-Vet care), documented in the footage taken at the property. This dog was a brownish, tan color, but pink skin was prominent, as there was very little fur on the dog’s body at all. The small amount of fur it did have was present only in patches.
The pregnant dog’s cage was coated in fecal accumulation that did not drop through the wire flooring (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures), and flies were evident throughout.
In a cage on the upper level was a small dog that appeared to be a Pomeranian, as along with a Shih Tzu with some fur matting (2.40-Vet care).
At the end of the left-hand side of the lower level was a white and black female dog, presumably a Papillon, with a young puppy that appeared to be only four to five weeks old. This puppy was curled into a ball in the corner of the cage, fully exposed to feces on the cage floor (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures) and swarming flies (3.11(d)(4)-Pest control).
Another dog of an unknown breed was housed in a cage on the upper level. Yet another cage appeared to house another Pomeranian, but the dog was too frightened to do more than stick its head through the metal dog door into the outdoor portion of the cage.
Beneath the cages in the double-decker kennel were plastic platform trays that collected the urine and feces that fell through the wire floorings. This tray was intended to be sprayed down, pushing the excrement out from below the dogs. Instead, the tray contained a large accumulation of feces directly below the dogs and urine that had been sitting for so long that it had partially solidified (3.11(a)-Cleaning of primary enclosures). This waste accumulation had attracted flies that swarmed around the dogs (3.11(d)(4)-Pest control).
In total, we counted at least six dogs that were known to be female. This number does not include the Shih Tzu, the Pomeranian, the first Chihuahua, the four Beagles, the second Miniature Pinscher, the dog of unknown breed, and any of the dogs housed in the fenced-in pen on the front of the property by the pond. It is unlikely that any breeder would house that many male dogs, as most kennels contain far more females than males for breeding purposes.
Ken Raber told us that he could sell us dogs but would have to check with his broker, Levi Graber, in order to determine what he could sell to the public. Raber is clearly operating a kennel without a license and selling to a broker in a nearby town. He exceeds the three-bitch limit; therefore, his facility should be licensed and subject to USDA inspection.
At the far edge of the property near the end of the gravel driveway was a large white building approximately 50 to 70 feet long. The structure had seven visible windows on the side facing the driveway, and from several hundred feet away we could hear hoards of dogs barking. The barking was presumably coming from this very large building, and we were confident there were dozens of dogs housed inside, although another white shed stood to the right of the driveway.
As we approached the building to look for a resident, an Amish man (Abe Graber) opened the door of the large facility and approached us. We asked him simply if he sold puppies, and he immediately became suspicious and demanded to see our driver’s licenses to prove our identities. He walked with us back to our car where we informed him that we did not have our identification with us. He proceeded to take out his cell phone and said he was going to call the sheriff. He claimed we did not have permission to walk on his property, despite the fact that we had knocked at the door and called out “hello.” There were no “no trespassing” signs visible on the grounds, and we did not attempt to access anything that was not in plain sight of the driveway.
We told him that if he could not sell us puppies, we were not going to bother him any further. We took out our car keys, preparing to leave the property, at which point he proclaimed we were not going anywhere and that he would let the sheriff settle the matter. He propped himself again the trunk of our car so that we could not drive away. After several minutes of discussion, we got in the car; once we put it into reverse, he jumped off and let us drive away.
From the number of dogs present at this facility, it is evident the owners are operating a breeding operation without a license. The owner’s wife, Vera Graber – also present on the property at the time of the investigation – is listed as a breeder of dogs in Indiana pet stores, indicating that the Grabers do not limit their dog sales to the public and, therefore, require a USDA license in order to operate.