For Immediate Release:
September 26, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Elkhart County, Ind. – Damning reports recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveal that dogs were denied needed veterinary care and were confined to cramped cages without being let out to exercise at a breeding facility operated by Michael Weaver near Goshen. In response, PETA rushed a letter to Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Elaine Becker asking her to investigate and file applicable charges against those responsible for the neglect.
According to the report, on August 15 a USDA veterinarian found a dog whose right ear was “reddened,” with waxy brown debris inside, which Weaver had failed to notice. On May 31, the USDA veterinarian found four dogs who were confined to enclosures barely bigger than their bodies and at least one dog—a mini golden retriever/poodle mix—who had to “constantly remain hunched over or lay down to prevent her head from hitting the top” of the cage. Weaver apparently stated that the dogs weren’t being let out for exercise, and the veterinarian noted that these conditions can cause psychological distress and discomfort. The same day, the veterinarian also documented that a French bulldog hadn’t received medical care despite suffering from a suspected prolapsed eyelid, known as “cherry eye”—which occurs when an eyelid gland protrudes, leading to a swollen pink mass.
“Miserable mills like this one deny dogs proper care, imprison them in cramped conditions, and treat them as nothing but commodities,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is urging Elkhart County authorities to prosecute those responsible for this neglect and calls on everyone to avoid buying dogs from breeders or pet stores, which keep operations like this one in business, and to adopt from shelters instead.”
PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the USDA doesn’t render relief or aid to animals during its inspections and these violations carry no federal criminal or civil penalties.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Becker follows.
September 26, 2023
The Honorable Vicki Elaine Becker
Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney
Dear Ms. Becker:
I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office (and the proper law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and, as suitable, file criminal charges against those responsible for neglecting dogs at a breeding facility operated by Michael Weaver at 63771 State Rd. 13. PETA hopes investigators will visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in canine health and welfare so that they can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for approximately 110 dogs there.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian documented neglect at the facility in the attached reports, which were recently made public. On May 31, the veterinarian found that two dogs—who were 25 to 30 inches long and 17 to 26 inches tall—were in cages that measured only 24 inches across and 17 inches high. Two more dogs, who were 14 to 20 inches tall, were also kept in cages that were just 17 inches high. Weaver apparently told the veterinarian that the dogs weren’t being let out of the cages to exercise.
The same day, the USDA official found a dog whose right eyelid was evidently prolapsed, causing a “fleshy pink mass” to develop on the eye. Despite being aware of the injury, Weaver apparently hadn’t contacted a veterinarian to seek care. Similarly, on August 15 the USDA veterinarian found that another dog’s right ear was “reddened,” with waxy brown debris inside—which Weaver “had not identified.”
These findings may violate Indiana Code § 35-46-3-7.
You may also wish to know that on August 15, the USDA veterinarian found that about 23 dogs had access to “excessively dirty” feeders, which Weaver reportedly admitted had not been cleaned in “a few weeks.”
The USDA renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, and these reports carry no criminal or civil penalties and don’t preempt criminal liability under state law for neglecting animals. If you’d like to learn more about the agency’s findings, please see the contact information for its office in Riverdale, Maryland, here. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis