Check welfare––& priors
BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut––How do you tell a rescue angel hauling dogs through Connecticut from a puppy miller?
Encountering both along Interstate 95, one of the most trafficked transportation corridors in the world, Connecticut state police just check the welfare of the dog cargoes they intercept.
The rescue and puppy mill transporters both tend to be moving dogs of relatively popular breeds and mixes from the South to sale and adoption venues in the Northeast, where the most popular breeds and mixes––pit bulls excepted––are relatively seldom seen in shelters.
The motives of the alleged perpetrators in transport cruelty cases tend to emerge in court, or from media discovery of out-of-state priors.
30 dogs in box trailer
Southern Dogs Rescue founder Deanalyn Reing, 49, of Auburn, Alabama, was arrested alongside I-95 in Stratford, Connecticut on July 19, 2015 and charged with cruelty to animals.
“Police said Reing was hauling a trailer loaded with nearly 30 dogs who had no ventilation,” reported Daniel Tepfer of the Connecticut Post. “Shortly after 8 p.m., state police pulled over a van with an attached box trailer. When police opened the trailer doors, they said they found crates stacked on top of each other, all containing dogs.
“Police said the temperature inside the van was 96 degrees. Police said the dogs were all panting and appeared to be in distress. They were transported to local animal hospitals,” Tepfer continued.
“Police said when they began to question Reing she began hyperventilating and was taken to Bridgeport Hospital. She said she had traveled from New York to Rhode Island and was heading to New Jersey when she was pulled over, police said. They said she agreed to release ownership of the dogs.”
Convicted in Alabama
In December 2013, according to WRBL-TV News in Columbus, Georgia, “After a Lee County resident’s report that several dogs at Southern Dogs Rescue looked abandoned and neglected, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Lee County Animal Control discovered more about 20 dogs in fence kennels who appeared to be malnourished and starving to death. There was no food in the kennels and the water provided was stagnant and greenish-black in color. The dogs were also walking around in their own feces.”
Veterinarian Buddy Bruce’s “diagnosed the dogs with multiple health issues like intestinal worms,” WBRL continued.
Added Rachael Taylor, news editor of the Auburn University student newspaper The Plainsman, “Four of the dogs had to be put to sleep because they were acting too violently toward other dogs in order to get food.”
Convicted of five counts of cruelty in April 2014, Reing appealed, leading to a jury trial in February 2015. Convicted again, “Reing was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. She also cannot house more than 25 dogs in her Coosa County shelter without checking with her probation officer. In addition, Lee County Judge Chris Hughes ordered Reing to take an online class on the welfare and behavior of animals.”
Evangelist left dogs in van overnight
The Reing dog cargo may have been the biggest intercepted along the Connecticut shoreline stretch of I-5 since August 2003, when itinerant evangelist Ivan J. Truman, 65, of Smiths Grove, Kentucky, was charged with 10 counts of cruelty after police found 69 dogs packed into 12 carrying crates in his van. Truman, staying overnight with a relative, had left the van parked on Main Street in Stratford.
Three cats were reportedly loose in the van. Eleven of the 69 dogs were already dead from heat stress.
Intercepted on his way from the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society in Kentucky to the Oronoque Animal Hospital, Truman told police that he was making his seventh journey as a pet relocator.
The deadliest of many dog transport incidents along I-95 in Connecticut, however, occurred on March 12, 1998. Truckers David Cook, 48, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Edward Earl Ruyle, 37, of Filley, Nebraska, were jailed overnight in Greenwich after a propane heater fell over and started a fire in their trailer that killed 44 puppies.
Six more puppies, badly burned, were later euthanized. Another thirteen puppies were hospitalized. Five, not injured, were held by the Connecticut Humane Society shelter in Newington.
Cook and Ruyle were initially charged with 68 counts of cruelty, but the charges were reduced to a single count of failing to have a health certificate for one puppy.
Police said the puppies had adequate food and water, and were not overcrowded. They also noted that when alerted to the fire by another trucker, Cook and Ruyle immediately stopped and tried to save the puppies at risk of their own lives.
Truck stuck under bridge
The biggest dog transport incident along I-95 came in October 1997, when a truck that turned off in Bridgeport got stuck under a railroad bridge.
“The impact sheared off the truck’s air-conditioning unit and got the immediate attention of a patrol officer parked at the intersection,” wrote Hartford Courant staff writer Mary K. Feeney. “Inside were 97 puppies, one of them dead, several sick. Puppies were crowded into cages; some had no water, some had water bowls filled with urine. Several dogs were taken to an animal hospital for care. Four puppies later died of malnutrition.
“The driver was transporting the animals for sale up and down the Eastern seaboard,” Feeney wrote, “for a Missouri puppy broker. He was granted accelerated rehabilitation on 96 counts of cruelty to animals.”
The puppies were rehomed by the Connecticut Humane Society.