CROWN POINT -- The owner of 68 dogs seized by police Wednesday did not have a license to breed animals and had medical equipment used to perform C-sections, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said.

The man, who was not at his property when a search warrant was executed, is expected to face charges related to neglect of animals and practice of veterinary medicine without a license, sheriff's police said. Charges could include an individual count for each C-section performed, Buncich said.

Police did not identify the property owner, because he has not been formally charged.

Police planned to take the man into custody after prosecutors file charges, Buncich said. Charges could be filed this week, he said. 

"He's a very sick individual. He doesn't have a license that we could find to practice (veterinary medicine)," Buncich said. "And the conditions in which he practiced it were filthy conditions."

The man may have been performing C-sections on animals because some of the breeds are known to have trouble delivering puppies, he said.

"He just wanted to make sure he could get the litter," Buncich said.

Police found a bucket full of scalpels, medications and evidence the man discarded carcasses at the rear of a garage where the dogs were found, he said.  

Tips led police to garage

Sheriff's police received information a year ago about the property in the 5900 block of West 125th Avenue in Center Township, but an initial investigation didn't pan out, Buncich said.

Police returned to the property after receiving another tip several weeks ago about a person possibly hoarding animals at the property, he said. In addition to 68 dogs, including 50 puppies, police seized three goats and a miniature horse, police said. Peacocks and chickens also were found.

The smell in the garage where the animals were kept was overwhelming, Buncich said. The animals were housed in cages, and there was little light and poor ventilation in the garage, he said.

"It was a very terrible situation," Buncich said.

Police spent more than seven hours at the property. A couple of dogs required immediate medical care, and the rest were taken to the Lake County Sheriff's Animal Adoption & Control Center in Crown Point, he said.

The goats and horse were placed with a farmer, Buncich said. The Sheriff's Department is working with the Indiana Department of Veterinary Medicine, and several local police departments helped transport all of the dogs to the shelter.

Police are investigating who was buying puppies from the man, but there was no indication so far that anyone other than the man would face charges, Buncich said.

Donations pour in

The Sheriff's Department has been contacted by several rescue organizations and individuals wanting to foster the dogs, he said.

In the shelter's lobby Thursday, donations piled up. Inside, shelter workers busily attended to the dogs.

The no-kill shelter's population has increased to more than 100. That is the most dogs ever housed there at one time, Buncich said.

By comparison, there were about 30 dogs at the shelter in late January, which marked a low point because the facility had been forced to close in December to rid the animals of a respiratory ailment. The shelter has since been given a clean bill of health by a veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin.

Supplies needed include dry or canned unopened dog food; bleach and detergents; blankets; towels, clean rags or washcloths and dog food bowls.

Shelter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays. The facility is closed all day Sunday.

The shelter is at 3011 W. 93rd Ave. in Crown Point.

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