Breeder: Lorton, Betty
Business name: Lorton’s Puppy Land
Address: Rd 1 – Box 93 (93 2100 E)
City, State Zip: Beecher City, IL 62414
USDA License: 33-A- 0311 (later discovered that they had not renewed their federal license; state license only)
Date of CAPS Investigation: 2007-08-24
Time of CAPS Investigation: 09:40
On the premises at the time of investigation: about 70 dogs and 50 puppies
Breeds: Jack Russell Terriers, Pomeranians, Shih Tzu, Labradoodles, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Bassett Hounds, Shelties
The kennel design at Lorton’s Puppy Land was identical to that reported in the CAPS USDA report dated 6/11/06 though some pens held different breeds of dogs than observed before.
Shih Tzu pens
The Shih Tzu pens closest to the parking area at the kennel still had two Shih Tzus per pen, and a repeat USDA violation of no windbreaks on the wooden dog houses (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements) was evident. This time, I also saw over 24 hours of feces piled up outside of the pens, as though it had been hosed out and not taken away (3.1(f)-Drainage and waste disposal). This attracted a large amount of flies to the area (3.11d)-Pest control).
Two elevated outdoor cages stood by themselves at the kennel in between the whelping building and the Lorton’s house. One was empty while the other, which held two Shelties in a previous CAPS inspection, held a single Jack Russell on 8/24/07. The plastic water dish on the cage flooring had a water hose set in it, though the dish was completely dry (3.10-Watering). A wooden dog house connected to the wire cage had no windbreak on its entrance (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements).
The series of concrete runs extending off of the whelping building in the direction of the Lorton’s house held two dogs each. Water dishes were placed at the front of each pen, and all of them were filled with murky brown water, the same color as feces on the pen floorings (3.10-Watering).
A second area of outdoor concrete runs made with chain link fencing and covered with a roof had two to four dogs per cage. Plastic dog houses were in each pen, though they all lacked windbreaks (3.4(b)(3)-Shelter from the elements). Two Pomeranians were together in a pen. Both dogs had a bottom left tooth that stuck out of the sides of their mouths. On one of them, a tan Pomeranian, had a bottom left tooth that was yellow and brown and about three times the size it should have been (2.40-Vet care).
Each whelping cage contained a nursing mother and one or more puppies or several weaned puppies. The first room held whelping and puppy cages as well as medical and cleaning supplies. The supplies were sitting next to the same wall as the door that accessed the room from the outside, and amongst them I saw a small plastic medicine bottle containing a thick yellow liquid with no cap or seal on it (3.1(e)-Storage).
One cage held a black and white Jack Russell and tan Pomeranian. The Pomeranian appeared to be in good health until it was picked up and the fur was parted, at which point a CAPS investigator saw the fur closest to the skin was matted, and the skin itself was scaly and flaking (2.40-Vet care).
White plastic sheets were at the backs of the elevated cages, and they had a dingy brown build-up on them (3.1(c)(3)-Surfaces). The cages were each about two feet wide and tall and 3.5 feet long. One cage held four Shelties, each about 18 inches long from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail. They required 16 square foot cage, and only had a cage with seven square feet of space (3.6(c)(1)(i)-Space).
Sick dog and puppies
Along the row of whelping cages in the direction of the Lorton’s house I saw a dog and several puppies with health concerns, and one puppy that appeared to be dying. The most ill puppy was a tan Chihuahua about three weeks old in a cage with two other siblings and its mother. The sick puppy was unable to stand or lift its head. I pointed this out to Betty Lorton, who said, “Yeah, it’ll probably die. That happens.” I picked the puppy up to show to Betty, and when I set it down the puppy began opening and closing its mouth and was unable to roll over or lift its body up (2.40-Vet care).
I then noticed a nursing brown Chihuahua mother and brown puppy of about three to four weeks of age in a cage adjacent to the cage containing the puppy unable to move. The mother and brown puppy had hair loss and scaly skin. The mother had about 60% hair loss, while the puppy in her cage had about 80% hair loss (2.40-Vet care).
There was also hair loss on the puppy that was unable to move and its siblings and mother. A cage wall connected their cage to the two dogs with hair loss next to them, meaning they could physically contact the other animals. I pointed out the hair loss to Betty, who asked me what I thought it was. I replied, “It’s probably mange, because it doesn’t look like ringworm. I’m not sure, though.” Betty said nothing after my statement. I washed my hands in a nearby sink with dish-washing liquid immediately after handling the dogs with hair loss.
Afterwards, Betty continued to show me several dogs in two different kennel buildings. She made no action to treat the puppy that was unable to move in its cage and appeared to have an imminent threat to its life from its condition. This indicated to me that Betty had not treated the puppy for its condition and had no intention of treating the puppy. Therefore, I left as quickly as possible so I could contact authorities to try to have the puppy confiscated.
Attempt to promote legal action
At 10:18 am I called the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, who referred me to the Fayette County Animal Control office. At 10:31 I called Officer Dean with Fayette Co. A.C., who said that Illinois Department of Agriculture Officer Neal Zelasko had been out to the Lortons’ property on Monday, 8/20/07, and that there was nothing wrong with the kennel. I repeated to Dean that I believed a puppy was currently dying inhumanely on the property, at which point Neal said he had to “ask his boss.” In under a minute he was back on the phone and said, “She said its fine. I’ll go right out there.”
I decided to take the video evidence I had to Fayette Co. A.C. Administrator Dr. Heaton anyway. Dr. Heaton is the veterinarian for the Lortons. When I met with her she said that she had to go to lunch, but would look at the footage. I said that a puppy was dying at the property, and she repeated she would look at the footage but that she was going to lunch. I asked where Officer Dean was, and she said he had another call but would go to the Lorton’s soon.
I then went to the Fayette Co. Sheriff’s office and spoke with a deputy whose name I did not record. The officer spoke to Officer Dean on the phone and then told me that Dean was told by his boss not to go to the Lorton kennel because “Ag. Officer Neal told him not to.” At this point, I had determined that I was lied to by Officer Dean and Administrator Heaton. I also suspected that Officer Neal Zelasko with the IL dept. of Agriculture was unable to tell a county animal control office to not act on evidence of cruelty to animals. The deputy put Neal Zelasko on the phone with me. Neal said that he didn’t like my agenda and that he had been to the Lorton property on Monday and that they passed his inspection. I reminded Neal that it was currently Friday, not Monday, and that I believed a puppy was dying at that very moment. He then said that he refused to go to property.
I then asked the deputy who I should go to, since I believed the authorities responsible for acting on evidence I had obtained were not doing their jobs and that I was concerned for the Chihuahua puppy I believed to be dying there. The deputy told me to go to the State Attorney’s office and present the evidence directly, at which point I went directly to speak to State Attorney Stephen G. Friedel and presented him with my story and video evidence of the Lorton’s kennel.