98 “Healthy” Dogs Seized in NC

I don’t care if you have 1 dog or 98 dogs – you gotta do it right.  Now nobody’s perfect and I think it’s reasonable to allow for some variations in quality of care so long as the basics are consistently met – sufficient food, clean shelter, affection, exercise and discipline.

In Pleasant Garden, NC, authorities were receiving complaints from people who had bought puppies from a local breeder operating under the name Rush Kennels.  Buyers reported their dogs had multiple health problems sometimes resulting in death.  So the sheriff’s office conducted an undercover investigation and bought a puppy from Rush Kennels.  That puppy was diagnosed with multiple health problems and ended up dying.  This week, authorities seized 98 dogs from Rush Kennels.  Two of the dogs required emergency surgery:

“There were some that had been over utilized as breeders and actually had parts of their internal organs that were hanging out.” [Sheriff BJ] Barnes said.

Here is a photo of one of the seized dogs (more photos here):

The owner of Rush Kennels, Sheila Rush, [Note:  Check out Sheila Rush on “Wife Swap”] and a dog caretaker, Robert Landreth, have not yet been charged because the sheriff’s office is still gathering evidence, but they say animal cruelty and fraud charges are likely.

Landreth, who works at Rush Kennel, told FOX8 that the seized dogs were healthy and that Rush is working with her attorney to get her dogs back.

That Weimaraner is not “healthy”.  For starters, he is emaciated.  Compare to a side view of a random Weim I found online who is in normal, healthy weight:

Oh and any dogs with guts hanging out – they do not fall under the “healthy” category either.

Update:  Both Rush and Landreth have now been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.  Read more and see another “healthy” dog’s photo here.

22 thoughts on “98 “Healthy” Dogs Seized in NC

  1. Healthy… um, because they’re alive? Barely alive at that.

    The other article you posted (Wife Swap) claims that she treats her husband and son as “second class citizens” in comparison to her “canine royalty.” If this is any indication of how canines are treated as royalty… UGH.

    I hope these poor animals’ health problems can be treated and decent, loving homes can be found for them.

  2. I agree .. numbers are not what make a kennel good or bad…this dog looks very thin. “Guts” are not probably what was hanging out….I would guess it was a prolapsed uterus if it was bitch who had recently whelped.. easy fix.. but it does have to be done and looks horrible.. although not as dangerous as one might think if taken care of right away.
    Dogs cannot be ‘over bred” as this sheriff says.. prolapsed uterus can occur even in a first litter..Since bitches only come into season once very six months it is not possible to “over breed” them.. it is possible to breed them when they are not healthy.. not a good idea..

    1. I too figured it was probably a prolapsed uterus (or vulva maybe) that the police were referring to but keep in mind:
      The uterus is an internal organ – thus falling under the “guts” category IMO. If prolapsed, it should not be left untreated and if this condition appeared in multiple dogs seized by authorities, it would have to be one hell of a coincidence that all just occurred AND the owners would have to have been loading up the affected dogs on their way to the emergency Vet when police arrived before I’d consider this as anything other than criminal neglect. I interpret the “overbreeding” comment to be similar to what many people mean when they say that – breeding more litters than is healthy for a single animal to bear. He wasn’t saying they were bred more often than they come in heat. I don’t have any quibble with his description and I’m surprised if you haven’t come across the term before.

      1. As a person currently conducting a vore dire hearing against Alberta SPCA officers who seized my healthy kennels of dogs, horses, rabbits and pot bellied pigs I can sympathize with the breeder. They may have had a skinny dog, you do not know the circumstances of when or why the dog is that way. In fact I had just rescued a few mixe dbreed dogs from a lady four days before the seizure onmy kennel. Did I stsarve the dogs? Absolutely not. Did the ABSPCA do an investigation to determine the facts. It has come out during trial that in fact they didn’t make any effort to justify the seizure from an informant who by the way has an unfounded grudge. So before you all go public on the internet and crucify the breeders Please at least look at all the facts and not just the suposition of what is true.

  3. While I have to agree the 2 dogs I saw pictured (here and one of the links) definitely stray pretty far from healthy, buyers must also bear some of the burden for this person staying in business. If the weim pictured is from her breeding stock, why would anyone purchase a pup from her?
    I can’t imagine she would have a lot of buyer references with the number of complaints filed against her. If you question the health of the parents, don’t buy. If you ask for current/multiple pictures of parents and pups and they aren’t forthcoming, don’t buy.
    Digital cameras are easy to get pictures with on short notice and a date/time stamped picture request easy enough to supply.
    It shouldn’t take police or anyone else buying pups undercover to put bad breeders out of business. Just common sense. Don’t buy a pup from an obviously bad kennel to ‘rescue it’. Don’t buy if they don’t/won’t furnish references. A good breeders asks buyers questions and should be just as willing to answer any from buyers. A good breeder asks for references and should be as willing to furnish them.

    1. Whose job is it to educate the public about the difference between responsible and irresponsible breeders and how a buyer’s choice impacts the lives of dogs? This is not stuff everybody knows.

  4. Not buying it. We need some experts on photo manipulation who can say the right words but that dog up there looks a lot better when you enlarge the picture.

    Under magnification it looks very much like some kind of coloring matter has been rubbed into the fur. Some of the fur in the darkened areas, under magnification, looks just as light as the fur that is not in shadows.

    What the observer initially takes for the shadows cast by ribs is some kind of darkening of the fur ON TOP OF THE RIBS. This is very important. Those shadows that look like the outline of ribs would be cast by the ribs, not ON the ribs. The shoulder is just plain wrong. The sunken look on the belly is drawn on.

    In the picture with shelter director Martha Williams the dog is obviously badly retouched. Look at the left leg. There are lines there that not only don’t belong but can’t belong, and those are caused by a bad job of morphing. The other picture of the dog shows no such lines on the left thigh and there probably aren’t any dogs in the real world that show those lines. The perspective in the picture is distorted. The dog’s backside is much closer to the camera than the rest of him. Magnification shows that the “sunken” effect is one smear of makeup. The left thigh was very badly botched.

    That picture is the most obvious sign of deliberate deception. To get those lines on the left thigh someone had to manipulate the photograph. Both photographs have been messed with. In the picture with Williams and her assistant in it, Williams’s torso and face are ridiculously elongated compared to her legs and Studivent’s face also looks stretched top to bottom. It also looks like the women and the dog were photographed from different angles. That might be entirely innocent. However, the bad retouching job is evident, conclusively. The makeup is evidence, and it was also done badly. That’s more than enough to prove dishonesty. I think that a very careful look shows a perfectly normal, healthy dog.

    To save a picture like that, use the “Prt Scr” button on an IBM compatible keyboard, which is usually to the right of the F12 button, and copy and paste to an image editor. Then you can magnify it and look at the different areas.

    They won’t try to show us organs hanging out of the dogs. Most likely they pointed something perfectly normal out to the sheriff and told a story. I think that after the retouched photographs they would do anything including lying about the dog’s weight.

    Then there is the laundry list of things that were allegedly wrong with the dogs. I could spend hours dissecting it but it’s a lot easier to take it with a grain of salt when that one picture shows absolutely incontrovertible signs of deliberate tampering.

    This is one of the problems with being willing to give them the bad owners to eat. They are going to try to tell us who is an abusive owner. They are going to subject us to a lot of dishonesty, power plays, and posing. They are going to insult our intelligence. Then they’re going to kick down our doors anyway. I know people like that. When they’re caught in a lie they tell more outrageous lies. When they’re asked for “evidence” that’s a big mistake because that’s putting faith in them. They will manufacture the evidence. They will keep lying until you give up.

    1. If the sheriff’s office is fabricating evidence as you suggest, that would obviously be a crime. I’m not qualified to speak on manipulating of photos but the photos alone are not the only evidence. They do have complaints from a number of buyers whose pups died and the pup they themselves bought died. Those things would seem to be outside the scope of photo retouching.

      1. The complaints are not outside the scope of sending people to buy the pups and complain, or having people lie about having bought pups there, or putting up ads shopping for complaints.

    1. The photo of the skinny Weim is a poor quality jpg and anything you think are you seeing when you zoom in, including smeary looking areas, odd colors, or solid tones, are more than likely jpg artifacts due to poor quality compression. The image is loaded with them.

      Please post a link to the shelter director image you are talking about and I will give you my opinion on whether it’s retouched. I couldn’t find the image. Such an extensive manipulation job will leave clues. Most smaller newspapers don’t employ anyone, including photographers, that knows much of anything about Photoshop other than how to resize photos, much less proper retouching or manipulations.

      Full disclosure: I have been using Photoshop professionally since 1994. Before that I taught other people how to use it. It takes a decent amount of skill to actually paint changes into a photo and have it not be quite obvious. In my opinion, the photo of the Weim above has not been manipulated. It may have had the contrast deepened but that is equally likely due to strong lighting as the image was taken in full sunlight.

      I keep sighthounds and I keep my dogs skinnier than many sighthound people do. I am very well-versed in what constitutes a skinny dog in poor condition and one that is thin but otherwise in good shape. I have different standards for my Azawakh, for instance, than I do for my Salukis, because the musculature is somewhat different and certain bones will be more prominent than others even in a dog that is pretty well padded. If that Weim was a Saluki I would consider it too thin. The spine is prominent over the whithers. A dog that is thin but in good condition will have good visual coverage of the spine between the tops of the shoulder blades by the musculature. The area just below the edge of the hip bone is sunken. The dog’s head looks lumpy, with prominent bones over the eyes, and behind the eyes themselves looks sunken. The dog still has decent muscle so it hasn’t been underfed for very long. I have some issues with some of the other photos accompanying the article (the dog with a very fresh bloody scratch, for instance) but the Weim is legit in my opinion.

      Leaving bitches with prolapsed uterus’ to suffer is appalling.

  5. I have to agree with Jess. I don’t hold much love for AR people but I really don’t see any signs of retouching in the photos. Sometimes the supposedly abused animals are just well, abused. I don’t think there are any signs of overt physical abuse but there are definite signs of neglect. I feel that the owners are simply overwhelmed. It doesn’t look like the neglect is intentional. As to the terrier with the gash in its side. Well, that in my opinion is the result of mishandling on the part of the rescuers. That is a FRESH wound and NOT the result of long term abuse. The damaged wrist on the other dog also looks to be fresh. Makes you wonder about the qualifications of the “rescuers”. Also makes you wonder how many times breeders have been accused of abuse when the actual damage was caused by the rescuer. Maybe the law should stipulate that each individual animal rescue be video taped and damage to the animal by the rescuers be considered abuse.


    1. I am in the exact situation you describe with the handlers. In December I was the product of a conspiracy to seize my animals. The handlers not only injured one of my horses while trying to catch it they had one of my dogs escape and there is a resulting vet report demonstrating the injuries she suffered due to the negligence. Then the ABSPCA cried foul and neglect. A QB Judge ordered the animals returned and to avoid that court Order they laid charges wich are proceeidng to trial and it has come out that they did not have grounds to seize the animals let alone demonstrate any evidence of animal neglect or abuse. They have now adopted the animals out and there can be no proper way of proving the health of the animals pre seizure. I am available to discuss this further at lonepinecrossing@yahoo.ca and am able to produce court records to show my claim to be true and the claim of the ABSPCA to be false.

  6. We need an expert. I think that the job on the left thigh is much more obvious on the picture with the lady in the orange shirt and the lady in the blue shirt in it. You already have the link to that article posted up there, but here it is again: link You have to look at it in Flash player and you have to use the print screen thing to download it. It’s the second picture in the “more pictures” thing.

    One of the most obvious things is that all of the shadows that are physically painted on the dog are on the high points where you wouldn’t normally see shadows. Another thing is that when you magnify the picture taken outdoors, you can see a lot more dog. A lot of the dog disappears into the shadow when you look at the picture when it’s small, and that effect would be even worse in newsprint.

    1. Zooming in or enlarging an already poor quality screen resolution jpg will prove, and show you, nothing, except jpg artifacts due to the compression algorithms.

      In the photo of the woman with the orange shirt, the dogs head is much more visible and even worse looking. That dog is seriously underweight and the next step in it’s starvation process is to start losing muscle.

      IMO neither of those photos has been retouched. And trust me, it is considerably easier to retouch a photo than to physically paint a dog to create a photo opportunity. You are not doing yourself any favors by your speculation. There are a lot of questions that could be asked that make a lot more sense than weird and implausible accusations about painted dogs.

      Is the Weim the only dog that’s seriously underweight? Has it been ill? The little dogs look to be in good weight. If there were so many complaints against this kennel, why did it take so long to investigate? Do the pictures show the only dogs that were not in good shape? Why were all the dogs confiscated? Had the owner been warned about problems before?

      Likewise the complaint about the ‘over-breeding’ statement. That would be a layman’s assumption, and yes, it could be wrong, but that does not change the fact that leaving a bitch with a prolapsed uterus or vagina to simply wander around is cruel.

      1. You can see a lot when you magnify this picture and no, it’s not weird or implausible to report exactly what I saw: the dog was made up to look that way and the photographs were manipulated. See if you can find an expert to ask. I’m done here.

  7. “I interpret the “overbreeding” comment to be similar to what many people mean when they say that – breeding more litters than is healthy for a single animal to bear. He wasn’t saying they were bred more often than they come in heat. I don’t have any quibble with his description and I’m surprised if you haven’t come across the term before.”

    I have of course come across the term before..however in this situation.. we are talking about a situation that can occur in ANY bitch..this person has NO idea of who many litters this animals had had.. or if the current situation is due to the bitch having a litter every heat.. or even once…. this is the “problem” with blanket observation.. sounds “good” on paper.. but not so much in actual animal husbandry


  9. On a good note my weim that I bought from them 8 years ago is alive and well. Of course-she turned out to be a Blue weim -which many purists don’t like but general consensus is: she better looking than the lighter shade. Not defending these people-just grateful that we were lucky..

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