ASPCA’s KY Puppy Mill Rescue is Not What It Seems

Screengrab from the WAVE website
Screengrab from the WAVE website

Pulaski Co dog breeder Dennis Bradley told a local reporter with a hidden camera that he had 58 dogs on his property, at least a dozen of them under 8 weeks of age, in November 2013.  The reporter from WAVE in Kentucky filmed dozens of dogs crammed into filthy, rusted wire cages from which they were obviously never removed.  Among the breeds depicted in the video are Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers and Bloodhounds.  The reporter asks him how much for a Schnauzer puppy and is told $300 for a female and $250 for a male.  This certainly appears to be a dog breeding operation to my eyes, and a very poorly maintained one at that.

And yet:

Bradley, when contacted by the Commonwealth Journal in November, insisted his kennel wasn’t a puppy mill, but a non-profit rescue organization.

A non-rescue would seem to be the more correct answer. Has anyone seen Dennis Bradley’s 501(c)3 documents for his so-called rescue organization?  Perhaps they are on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.

The strangest aspect of the November story is that Dennis Bradley’s rescue breeding facility had already been raided by the sheriff in January 2013, at which time he was charged with animal cruelty:

Video taken by the sheriffs department shows some of Bradley’s dogs sick and near death. Two were in such bad shape they had to be put to sleep.

So why is Bradley still in business? Animal rescue groups say shutting down a puppy mill can cost up to $70,000 in shelter, food and medical expenses for the dogs they remove. Sometimes, groups like the Animal Rescue Corps will pay the cost, as it did when it broke up an alleged puppy mill in Wayne County in September.

No group stepped in to help Pulaski County financially, and investigators decided taking all 70 dogs they found on Bradley’s property would overwhelm the shelter system. So they removed the dogs in the poorest conditions and asked animal control to make sure Bradley took better care of the animals left behind.  [emphasis added]

More on the January 2013 raid:

“Upon arrival detectives discovered several dogs in pens/cages outside which were obviously sick. Several dogs suffered from having skin ailments and two appeared to be near death,” states the citation, filed by Det. Glen Bland. “Many of the dogs were living in poor conditions without proper shelter. Most pens were (too) small and were covered in mud and feces.”

Former Pulaski County Animal Shelter Director Darren Wesley would eventually remove 21 dogs from the property — some of which were euthanized after they tested positive for parvo.

After allowing dogs to languish in these conditions for another full year, authorities finally received assistance from the ASPCA and worked out a plea deal with the owner. Bradley pleaded guilty to one count of second degree animal cruelty. He received 24 months’ probation and surrendered all but 5 dogs, including one elderly dog. He will not be allowed to have more than 4 dogs or to re-start his breeding business during the probation period.  Does this strike anyone as a good deal that protects dogs or does it look more like the appearance of justice, suitable for framing around a full color donation plea?

The ASPCA took 43 dogs to the KY Humane Society in Louisville on Tuesday.

It’s nice that the ASPCA finally used its vast resources to help these suffering dogs but with all those donated dollars in their bank account, couldn’t they have helped sooner?  Even if they didn’t have a full team available to deploy any time within the past year, couldn’t they have sent one person and hired some local people to assist?  Or at least thrown enough cash at the problem that the county could afford to provide the needed care itself?  I notice once the ASPCA finally rolled into Pulaski Co, they moved super fast to get this plea for cash out to donors:

Screengrab from the ASPCA website
Screengrab from the ASPCA website

When a county sheriff raids a facility containing sick and dying dogs alongside newborn puppies, has video to document the inhumane conditions, provides sufficient evidence to get cruelty charges filed against the owner, but lacks the resources to help the dogs, this should be the kind of thing the multi-million dollar animal welfare groups get on yesterday – not one year later. Does it matter to anyone at the ASPCA that dozens of dogs were left living in horrible conditions in the care of someone charged with animal cruelty for an entire year for lack of resources? And then when they finally decide to show up, it’s all ASPCA logo jackets for the cameras and donation pleas and press releases – as if the ASPCA just busted this place this week.  In truth, the cruelty charge stems from the work done by the local sheriff one year ago and the dogs needed help then.

I imagine we might end up seeing these Pulaski Co dogs in a TV commercial with a Sarah McLachlan song. If and when that happens, remember they were knowingly left to suffer in tiny cages in the care of someone charged with animal cruelty for an entire year while the ASPCA closed its checkbook to Pulaski Co and counted its money.

(Thanks Karen J. for the links.)

20 thoughts on “ASPCA’s KY Puppy Mill Rescue is Not What It Seems

  1. Spot on. The A$PCA is following the lucrative strategy of the H$U$—lots of press, propaganda, and begs for donations, while not or minimally helping the animals off which they raised thousands in donations. Shameful.

  2. I’m so sick of their advertising! Not all of us are so stupid! They should use some of the money they spend on advertising and fancy jackets to help the numerous dogs and cats in need!

  3. “Beware of the Leopard”, ha!

    I have to wonder though if the investigators who decided that this seizure would overwhelm their shelter system actually put out a plea for help? Or did they just decide, “Hey, that’s a lot of dogs, there’s no one to take them all” and shrug their shoulders and walk away?

    So, my next question is, “Did the ASPCA actually know about this at any time before they acted?” Because if the answer is no, then, they have no blame for the suffering that continued for a YEAR after the police were there.

    If they did, and waited ANY amount of time beyond what it would take to emergency dispatch someone to the scene, then they are…is there a word that means greedy/motivationally suspect/attention whore/jerks?

    1. Only the ASPCA can answer what they knew and when they knew it but IMO, it’s unreasonable to believe they just learned about the situation. Even if the local sheriff did not appeal to them directly (which he may or may not have, IDK), many people had reported problems with the facility which is what prompted the sheriff’s office to investigate in January 2013. Based on experience, I believe it’s likely that one or more of these complaints was sent to the ASPCA and/or HSUS since that is where many people file unofficial animal cruelty complaints. Those groups then direct the complainants to local law enforcement. Further, in researching the story, I came across several petitions created by citizens demanding further action be taken. Again, I believe it’s likely that one or more of these petitions were sent to ASPCA and/or HSUS since this is what people frequently do. The WAVE story from November was picked up by media outlets around the country and in fact, the reporter specifically mentions HSUS being involved with the undercover footage:

      “The female is $300, the male is $250,” Bradley could be heard saying on undercover video taken in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States.

      So at least by that point, HSUS appears to have been aware of the situation in detail and again I believe it’s likely the info would have been shared with the ASPCA.

      The ASPCA press release gives the impression they swooped in, saved the dogs and sent the bad guy to jail – all this week. This is misleading, at best and makes me suspicious of their involvement – specifically, what they knew and when they knew it. I find it highly implausible that ASPCA just learned about the plight of the Pulaski Co dogs and took swift action in response. I believe they knew for an extended period of time and did nothing.

      1. Given their history, that’s extremely likely, unfortunately.

        To have such vast resources and to not use them to stop cruelty the moment they become aware of it is…indicative of an organization more interested in APPEARING to be the hero, rather than actually BEING the hero. It’s all about appearances.

  4. My guess would be they didn’t have anything more interesting to deal with. “Let’s see, we have nothing on our calendars at the moment, go through that list of requests and see what pops up. Oh, Pulaski county? Fifty plus dogs? That sounds good. How much can we add to our bottom line? Calendar that, send a team and let the web people know we’ll need a new layout for fund raising.” Or something like that…
    And did anyone in that county even ASK for help??? Sounds like a lot of assuming.

    1. Loran,

      My experience is that well-intentioned people concerned about animals being mistreated regularly turn to the ASPCA and HSUS for help. This is understandable since these high profile national groups both do extensive advertising on TV and online and many animal lovers believe they are the appropriate groups to alert when they come across animal cruelty.

      There have been numerous occasions where I have covered stories on my blog and in response, readers have independently written to the ASPCA and/or HSUS, requesting they intervene in the situation. Sometimes they CC me on these letters, sometimes they simply fwd them to me with the response. Both groups have always replied in the same manner which, in short, directs the person to report their concerns to local law enforcement. This is particularly useless in areas where local law enforcement is the agency being reported for cruelty. While this was not the case in Pulaski Co, the situation was that Pulaski Co law enforcement already knew about, investigated and got charges filed against the person. They simply believed they lacked resources to help all the dogs.

  5. but… but… but… if H$U$ or A$PCA had helped EARLIER they would have had to spend money actually HELPING animals instead of filling up their coffers for salaries, retirement fund, advertising fund, lobbying fund… unfortunately it’s no longer about animal WELFARE – it’s about money, power, control. And the animals pay.

  6. Wonderfully written as always. I had been following this – or tired over the past year or more – and NOTHING…no new info etc even from Law Enforcement in Pulaski. Until this week when as stated the ASPCA swooped in to save the day and fill their coffers. HSUS knew all along…and did nothing. What’s new? The new donations…

  7. They have to leave these until the best time to raise money – and a raid like this would raise far more than what was needed for this operation. Now that’s cruelty to animals!

  8. My first experience with ACPCA and HSUS was in 2010 when we had the 1,000 year flood here in Middle Tennessee. I relentlessly contacted our state of TN reps of both orgs and they blew me off. I contacted ROVER (who I’m ceritifed with) and they literally said that they take their “ques from the larger organizations” and that they were told no animals were in danger. WTH?? My little county has a facility that hold 75 animals – packed full. We were not only full but we had 160 homeless animals in crates in our schools and churches for months. We are 10 miles north of Nashville. Metro Nashville AC killed many animals that were displaced by the flood – NEVER even posted them online or on social media. Yup – we needed NO help.

    My next experience was September 10, 2011. I had accepted the position as AC Director of my small Cheatham County on September 2, 2011. I got a frantic call from a citizen with gun shots in the background yelling “dog fighting!” I got the address and called 911 for Sheriff Deputy backup. The SD refused and literally laughed at me on the phone. “Girl – it sounds like you got a dog problem! Sounds like you better call that new Animal Control Director.” Right – I told them who I was and the calls are RECOREDED. I called a friend who is a Deputy – and he said he would meet me there after his shift on his own time. In the meantime – I went …alone…I know….what could I do? I arrived to find 29 dogs – injured, chainge, training equipment, syringes and steriod bottles on the ground, an abandoned trailer with blood all over the walls and carpet rolled up. The caller was hiding in her truck.

    My truck held only 7 animals of this size. I cut the chains of the most injured. Watered and left food. Loaded 7 and left for the building. Long story short. When I returned – all the dogs but 5 were gone and a van was leaving the property and fired shots out the window. The Deputy arrived. We followed where they went. Made notes…etc. I got the last 5 dogs.

    Well – I contacted our State HSUS rep no less than 5 times. So did our ADA. She never even responded! And – our Sheriff REFUSED to even entertain ANY law enforcement work for DOGS. For 3 years these dogs worried me with nightmares and I kept advocating. Then – on Thanksgiving of 2013, I got a midnight call from my Deputy friend. Someone had set fire to the adjoining field of the dog fighting site – and two counties of Firefighters were there and called TBI in to witness the location!!!! These asshats have been caught and the grand jury trial begins February 4, 2014.

    It’s a long story I know – but I have had NO help on any level from ANY of the biggies.

  9. The ASPCA is very busy right now – at the Sundance Film Festival – partnering with Fresh Step cat litter on a cat video contest. “Catdance” t-shirts are available for purchase, but supplies are limited.

    HSUS is always eager to take out their hidden cameras and videotape dog and cat suffering. If they are pushing a bill in the state, they might go a tiny bit further to help, provided they can use the dogs as props for legislative lobbying.

    If these were farm animals, on the other hand….

  10. I’m just glad those dogs finally got help. I’d like to assume a positive intent on behalf of the ASPCA. Id like to think there’s good there. I know they’ve taken down a number if other mills in the last year. Don’t be so quick to judge. I can’t really complain because I donated nothing to their cause. So am I to blame as well because I knew about it too. I’m just glad the dogs are safe.

    1. There is plenty of blame to go around. First the owner of this place, next the officials who knew what was going on and chose to do nothing about it, last the A$PCA/H$U$ who could have done much more by taking care of the dogs without all the public bruhaha. They use these unfortunate situations to convince the public how much they care and how badly they need the money to save all these poor animals, all the while NOT spending much on saving the animals at all. Do your homework here.

      And, we all are glad the dogs are safe, but there are many others who are not. What are the local authorities and big “animal welfare” organizations doing about those?

      1. In reading back through my initial comment, I didn’t actually say there was no blame! I’m just saying there’s already so much ugly out there. Be thankful they were saved.

    2. What do you mean by saying you can’t complain because you donated nothing to their cause? That’s just ridiculous. We can most definitely complain about them, precisely because they sat around and did nothing (I’m 100% sure they knew last year about this situation) until it was convenient for THEM, not the dogs. And as for your second comment – one of the big reasons there is “so much ugly out there” is because the money-grubbing, attention whores at aspca and hsus DON’T help when they really do have the ability to do so, unless they can make it easy – and profitable – for THEMSELVES!

  11. I hope they actually rescue these dogs, as in, “get them the care they need and ensure that they make it into actual homes” versus “dump them in a kill shelter as soon as they can but continue to fund-raise on their story”.

  12. I am more outraged about the lack of punishment that Dennis Bradley is getting. He deserves to spend time in jail ant to never have another dog for as long as he lives. But because he made a plea deal he gets off with very little punishment. We should me angry with the state of Kentucky for not passing better laws to protect animals.

  13. I live in Kentucky and getting anything done here, especially in rural areas, is near-hopeless. In the six years I have lived here we had a puppy mill (run by a woman who had twice been in trouble elsewhere in the state) that was ultimately raided and dogs, alive and dead and very sick, taken off the premises. The owner of the puppy mill got a handful of weekends in the local jail. We now have another horrible dog situation with virtually abandoned dogs (2 of them – females) and can’t seem to get a damn thing done about it. One suggestion was made I buy them to get them out of there and, in desperation, I now seem only to be left with that IF the owner will sell them to me. I have my own pets and can’t keep them so my plan is to try to talk them into selling these 2 dogs to me for some less-than-outrageous price and then give them away to new owners that will care for them. Have to try to line up a couple of potential new owners first so the dogs will have good places to go.

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