Society

Internet Loophole Allows Accused Puppy Mill Operator, Wendy Laymon, to Sell Dogs

| by Denise A Justin

Wendy Laymon, a commercial dog breeder who has been repeatedly fined in both Washington and Missouri, had her license suspended, and has a long list notices of violations of animal-care laws in both states immediately began selling dogs over the Internet after she was released from jail near Seattle for animal-related violations.

Witnesses described on television the "horrific" conditions at a dog-selling and breeding operation run by Laymon near Arlington in Snohomish County, Washington, with dogs matted with feces, the stench of urine everywhere, and "cages and cages and cages stacked on top of each other. That news conference lead authorities to raid Laymon’s operation, seize hundreds of mistreated dogs, and sentence Laymon to several weeks in jail, reports KOMO News.

Laymon soon moved to Missouri and resumed her operations. Since then she signed a federal consent order admitting to willfully violating the Animal Care Act. As part of that agreement, she lost her USDA license to sell to pet stores, was fined and ordered to improve conditions. But she only sells on the Internet, and authorities claim they cannot stop her because of a loophole in federal regulations, a KOMO News Problem Solvers investigation disclosed on February 24.

The Humane Society called Laymon’s operation in 2010 and 2011 one of Missouri’s "dirty dozen" puppy mills and provided a long list of heartbreaking animal care violations.

According to government documents provided in the report (shown in video below) Laymon, also runs a website that purports to be a "non-profit, rescue adoption agency" but actually offers dogs bred in puppy mills. KOMO reports that several sources say she’s selling her own dogs and others for $1,000 or more.

In a filmed interview, Jennifer Izzi, of Delaware, tells the KOMO reporter that she wanted to adopt and was looking for a rescued dog when she found Laymon’s website, which was portrayed as a “dog-rescue charity” for French Bulldogs. She adopted ”Frankie” for $900, plus shipping costs.

When he arrived in a rickety van filled with 50 other dogs nearly a year ago, he was "skin and bones," afraid to walk on grass or on the stairs, and he still hides under furniture whenever human feet came near, said.

She described Frankie as, "The most petrified animal I’ve ever seen in my life." Frankie also has chronic ear infections and other health issues and has required constant veterinary care. Izzi believes Frankie came from a puppy mill. "I’m glad I have him, but she needs to be stopped. And people like her," Jennifer Izzi told KOMO.

Izzi’s case is just one example of the tragic consequences of the major hole in federal laws regarding puppy mills.

"The law was written before the Internet. So now there’s a giant loophole for sellers that want to sell directly to the public via the Internet," says Don Paul of the Humane Society of the U.S. "No inspections. And the Internet is the 'puppy miller's' best friend."

The State of Missouri still issues Laymon a commercial breeder’s license but a spokesperson said they have no record for a special dog rescue license under her name or company. She often used aliases.

Missouri state inspectors have repeatedly found serious violations of animal care regulations, including a period of nearly two years where they found no inspections by an attending veterinarian as law requires, cages and grounds in shabby condition, outdated medicine with some labeled for cows – not dogs, according to the report.

Laymon failed to show up for scheduled inspections and, in one case, flatly refused to let an inspector look inside one of her out buildings. So, even without a USDA license – which requires inspections – federal regulations do not prevent her from selling directly to dog buyers via the Internet.

Last Friday, the State of Missouri issued Laymon yet another formal warning letter for violations found during the most recent inspection, KOMO reports.

All reputable animal welfare and rescue groups urge people considering a pet to never buy online and to considering adopting a pet from a local animal shelter. Remember that the Internet is the 'puppy miller's' best friend."

Read also: Beware: Westminster Dog Show Picks Will Also Become Puppy-Mill Favorites

Source: (KOMO)