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.
(See Most popular breed in U.S. ain’t nothing but a hound dog and Pound dog inventory down, no-kill inventory up, in 2015 shelter survey.)
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.
“She said she had traveled from New York to Rhode Island and was heading to New Jersey.”
So someone loaded these dogs onto that trailer in Rhode Island or New York.
They need to be charged too.
Who is taking dogs from this place? There should be complete disclosure with every shelter about exactly where they are getting dogs from.
The outrageous thing is that even with an animal cruelty conviction, her state still let her operate her abusive shelter and traffic dogs.
But they can’t go on doing it if other people, whoever gives her dogs and whoever takes dogs from her, didn’t collude with them.
I saw someone write somewhere that rescue has lost its soul, and I think that was accurate in too many cases.
Mary Ann Redfern says
Reading this sort of thing makes my heart hurt. Obviously, there need to be laws enacted governing the transport of “rescued” or other dogs as far as number allowed, accomodations for individual dogs and lengths of time allowed in transport. This is sickening. The money grubbers packing them in does not surprise me at all, but the “humane” societies? There is NOTHING humane about this method of “saving” dogs. It would be kinder to euthanize them humanely. Disgusting!
Joanna McGinn says
Real rescues usually only have small passengers’ numbers. The rescue group I work with has rescued as many as 30 (when a miller was busted) but they go in groups of no more than 4… and with SUV drivers who drive in 2 hour shifts…. a few dedicated couples will drive entire distanceds but that is unusual. They are in crates, not wire cages, and while it would seem ‘cruel’ they are not let out until journey’s end, which sometimes makes for smelly puppy dogs, but we have lost two in the transport and we don’t want it to happen. Foster parents know and expect to bathe a pup when it arrives. Which too often means the rescued dog gets perhaps the first bath it’s had, a thorough examination of any problems (although they are vetted before the trip) for serious issues…. and their first experience with a warm safe bed, albeit in an X-pen but not a cage. That’s what rescue angels do.
Rescue angels are part of the problem.
Rescue is sitting idly by (with the exception of a few tireless whistleblowers fighting against the rising tide) and letting this whole situation explode into mass death and suffering.
It should be rescue angels who should be leading the way to better legislation and penalties, and more disclosure, and also exposing the fraud and abuse and cruelty.
When rescue turns its back or doesn’t get involved or tries to ignore it and say “that’s the other guys”, it all gets worse.
Also, shipping dogs around like produce doesn’t deal with the cause of the problem, and that means it will never get better. It means that all rescue ends up doing is trying to clean up after, not prevent and stop.
If rescue angels devoted even a portion of their time to increasing spay and neuter access and getting real about opening clinics and getting people in there and educating, or pressuring authorities to deal with problems and pass better laws, then it would already have gotten better.
Instead, rescue angels spend hours and days obsessing about one dog, while the cause of the problem never gets dealt with, and therefore it all just gets worse, and rescue is just playing the role of garbage collector. Think about all that attention and energy that could have been focused on productive things, that actually make things better for MANY dogs.
Thousands of rescue angels will shares posts about one dog, but will ignore posts about solving the root problems or exposing the fraud , abuse, and cruelty..
Two points: 1. “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.” That was her punishment for her prior conviction for having starving dogs living in filth? No wonder she doesn’t take anything seriously and does whatever she wants.
2. I am sure I’m not the only person to wonder about this. People want dogs. Some responsible people, some not so much. If you live in New England and want to get a dog, your choices are to buy one from a pet store or online; try to find a local breeder; go on craigslist; or try to adopt from a pound. If you go to a pound, you are more than likely going to find nothing but pit bulls. Sometimes you’ll see a toy breed, but most of those are older and many have behavioral problems. If you want to adopt a lovable mutt who is under ten years old, you’re pretty much limited to southern transport dogs. Let’s say the south ever does succeed at getting the population of mixed-breed dogs under control. Where will people in New England get their dogs? It’s a strange conundrum, unless of course you are OK with non-pit bull, mixed breed dogs going nearly extinct in the U.S.. Could it be that someday, pit bulls and puppy mill dogs will be all we have left? For the masses, anyway… hobby and show breeders couldn’t and wouldn’t keep up with the demand that is being filled by puppy millers and southern shelters.
I realize this is provocative, and I have always been a strident proponent of spaying and neutering to end the overpopulation of unwanted animals. But it looks like we’re heading toward a world we never really expected to see.