UPDATE FROM 02-13-15: Outside Dogs Safe with Rescue Groups. Click here.
Below is original story…
When I first saw a photo of dogs in a rotted rabbit cage with wire flooring a few days ago, I knew that it was going to cause a stir in the animal community in Michigan. When my aunt in Ohio contacted me about it to make sure I was aware of the situation, I knew it had ALREADY gone viral. And what happens to the puppies when they are born? Do they stay outside with the mom, are they taken away from the mom or does the mom finally get to go inside when it’s warm for a few weeks?
Initially, I had seen the post about these dogs by the Lake Haven Animal Rescue our of Newaygo by Nancy Kiel who was sharing photos originally posted by Caitlin Kreutzberg. Many people shared these photos and other groups became involved including Out of Box Rescue Efforts, a group that helps rescue animals, big, tall and short and small and is an advocate for stopping animal abuse and neglect. Out of the Box was the first site to post the kennel owner’s address, phone number and flyers. flyer.jpg If you Google the phone number on the flyer, you will find out that in addition to these dog breeders selling puppies through flyers, they also advertise them on the internet, as well as also selling pickup toppers, raspberries, snowblowers, hamsters and other items. Their names are Thomas and Meriam Taylor.
Guardians of Rescue out of New York also showed up online with a post about these dog breeders, commenting that they have been working on this issue for two weeks. They contacted the Taylors who told the Guardians that they don’t intend to make any changes. Guardians of Rescue is a not for profit organization whose members work tirelessly to work to protect the wellbeing of all animals and come to the aid of those in distress.
Some people had contacted the City of Midland but they responded by saying that the County has jurisdiction with this issue, not the City. The City did confirm in their Facebook post that the Taylors have a kennel license, they have recently been inspected and passed. Because Midland County has no ordinances pertaining to kennels, the laws that have to be followed come from the state of Michigan and the Department of Agriculture. However, the state of Michigan rarely does these inspections themselves unless a complaint is filed. Local law enforcement usually handles these inspections, either utilizing their Animal Control Officers or someone from County, City or Township law enforcement.
For counties with kennel ordinances such as Roscommon County, they have a checklist of things that they look for which encompass their own laws as well as those of the state. For an example of an inspection report that was done for the JRT John Jones Kennel in Lake City by Roscommon County Animal Control Officer, Terry MacKillop, click here: missaukee inspection sheet.
Is the Taylor’s kennel complying with state law? It doesn’t appear to be the case if you look at the information from the State about how these animals are supposed to be treated. In the section about how a kennel is defined kennel. You will see that the breeders have to comply with reasonable and sanitary requirements of the Dept. of Agriculture and must be protected from exposure commensurate with the breed of the dog. The dogs that are being bred by the Taylor are small breed dogs, as you can see in the photos, and are exposed to the elements with no heat during Michigan’s winters.
Furthermore, the section discussing licensed dog kennels in Michigan below say that the kennel should be of such construction as will adequately and comfortably house any dogs kept therein at any season the year.
Even though it appears that the state law would protect these small breed dogs from being housed in their current conditions, Midland County has released a statement to the contrary and defends the animals being kept as they are currently housed. You can read that here.
Midland County’s website says that new licenses are approved from the township or city official. It also says that kennel licenses are issued by the Animal Control Deputy on site at the time of inspection or can be purchased after the inspection. So how did these dog breeders pass inspection and what did the Animal Control Officer look for when doing the inspection? Pet Friends Magazine recently sent out a FOIA request to Midland County and Homer Township to get any inspection reports that were done and will update everyone when these documents arrive.
The important question is what can be done to help these dogs and others in the came situation? The best option for Midland County residents is to go to the next County Commissioner’s meeting and speak up. In addition to finding out why the Taylor Kennel was passed during inspection when these small breed dogs are obviously not equipped to be out in the Michigan winter weather 24/7, they should also request that Midland County writes up an animal ordinance (many have said they have none), including regulations that pertain to kennels. Any county can write more stringent laws than the state has for kennels and licensing.
Citizens are allowed to talk during the “public comment” time of County Commission meetings. This time is usually at the beginning or end of the meeting (or both) as allowed by the County Commissioners. Be direct and to the point about what you want your elected County Commissioners to do about this issue to protect the dogs (and cats) of your County.
The next County Commissioners meeting for Midland County is on Tuesday, February 17th at 9 am. The County Commissioners meet in the first floor board room of the County Services Building at 220 W. Ellsworth St., in Midland. All meetings are open to the public. It would also be a good idea for Midland County residents to contact the local media to show up at this meeting – TV, radio and print. If you can’t make this meeting, you can email the County Commission Chair Mark Bone here. You can also watch County Commission meetings live here.