The Morehead News

March 2, 2012

Care cost of ‘puppy mill’ dogs tops $338,000

By Kim Bandura - Staff Writer
The Morehead News

March 2, 2012 —     Several of the 118 dogs seized in last fall’s “puppy mill” raid have given birth and the number needing care has grown to about 160 and the cost of caring for them has exceeded $338,000, court officials were told here Thursday.

     Those figures came from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) at the trial of Patricia Blevins, 58, on 46 animal cruelty charges.

     ASPCA Midwest Field Director Kyle Hill testified that the organization had spent more than $338,000 since the seizure of the dogs in October.

    “Expenses have included daily care by a rotation of eight to fourteen ASPCA volunteers, veterinary bills, consultant fees, the purchase of kennels, transportation costs for volunteers and animals, cleaning supply costs and food and housing for both animals and caretakers,” said Hill.

    Clay McGuffin, Blevins’ court-appointed attorney, was overruled for a second trial date extension as Thursday’s session began.

    However, he agreed Thursday to waive a trial and Blevins pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and a kennel violation.

    As part of the conditional plea agreement, Blevins forfeited ownership of all of the dogs to the ASPCA so that the organization could begin finding homes for them.

    “This is why we agreed to this plea,” said Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins. “This was ultimately about what happened to the dogs, that they find good homes.”

    District Judge Don Blair ordered that Blevins would not be allowed to possess any animals during a two-year probation period.

    She also cannot work within the animal industry and agreed that law enforcement could inspect her property throughout the probation period to verify that no animals are present.

    Blair reiterated throughout the hour- long hearing that Blevins was not to possess any animals.

    She also was ordered to serve a year in jail with 11 months probated. Restitution was granted to the ASPCA for $338,000.

    McGuffin said he is filing 17 appeals in Rowan Circuit Court regarding restitution, admissible documents and the constitutionality of animal cruelty law and kennel ordinances in Rowan County.

     “The ASPCA is not the victim, their actions were voluntary, they are a non-profit designed to assist in these kinds of cases and they should not receive restitution,” he said.

    During the appeals process, Blevins is under order to obey what is outlined under her two-year probation terms. Any jail time will follow the appeals process.

    “Jail time is pending until the appeals and restitution are decided,” said Assistant Rowan County Attorney Steve Guerin. “If any of the appeals are lost, Blevins will have to serve time in jail.”

    “We hope that with every check she writes as part of her restitution, she will remember what she has done,” Guerin said during closing statements.

    Saving the Animals of Rowan (STAR) volunteers who assisted with caring for the dogs were thankful the forfeiture was decided.

    “The dogs will be adopted by families out of state,” the organization said in a statement to The Morehead News. “We are glad the nightmare is over for these dogs, and thankful Rowan County is progressive and took this case seriously,” they added. “The Animal Defense League has voted Kentucky No. 1 for the fifth year in a row for animal abuse…this must change.”

    Kim Bandura can be reached at kbandura@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.