Mar 15, 2024

PETA calling for investigation of Tuscola puppy mill

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TUSCOLA — Animal rights organization PETA is asking Douglas County authorities to investigate a Tuscola-area dog breeder after a recent federal inspection report cited animal neglect.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected Raymond Hostetler of 425 E. County Road 675 N, Tuscola, on June 13, and found five female dogs with matted hair and five male and female dogs with overgrown nails, according to the inspection report.

"The mats are down to the skin and numerous in quantity on each dog," the report states. "While there is no skin damage, the mats' closeness to the skin cause a tightness/pulling that can cause discomfort to the regulated animal."

One other dog, a male poodle, was partially shaved on his back several weeks prior, but "there are remaining mats on the back of the thighs/back end of the dog that had not been removed," the report stated.

The USDA also reported five male and female dogs on the premises had nails about one to one-and-a-half inches long that hadn't been trimmed in several weeks.

"Each of these dogs had long nails that caused their toes to twist to the side or not lie in a normal position when standing on a flat surface," the report said.

A call from The News-Gazette to Hostetler on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

While a 2021 Illinois state law banned the commercial sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores, puppy mills get around the law by selling animals online or out of state, according to Daniel Paden, vice president of evidence analysis at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

Hostetler had 39 adult dogs and 23 puppies on hand as of the June 13 inspection, according to the report.

PETA brings inspection reports with violations to the attention of area law enforcement because the USDA doesn't remove animals from harm's way or penalize violators, Paden said.

"They call their licensees customers, and they see their role as trying to bring animal breeders into compliance with federal law, and they're exceedingly patient, to put it mildly," he said.

In this case, PETA is seeking charges under state law, because the violations don't carry any federal civil or criminal penalties.

Douglas County State's Attorney Robert Kosic said he received an emailed letter from PETA with the USDA inspection report attached on Tuesday, and he referred it to the county sheriff's office to investigate.

"It's being investigated right away and we'll see what develops," he said.