UPDATED BREAKING NEWS: State officials raid rural Bloomfield puppy mill

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

State officials raided a rural Bloomfield commercial dog breeder on Wednesday and seized more than 120 puppies and dogs after the Indiana Attorney General's Office filed a jeopardy tax assessment in Greene County Circuit Court.

The attorney general's office contends the dog breeder owes the state more than $311,000 in delinquent sales and income taxes and obtained a court order to cease the business operation.

The animals were recovered by volunteers and now are being cared for at an animal clinic in Bloomington.

Darlene J. Clark, owner of Love My Pets, was ordered to cease from conducting business in the state because the operation did not collect sales tax and operated on a strictly cash-and-carry basis and provided no written receipts to customers showing sales tax due, according to an order filed with Greene Circuit Court on Wednesday by the Indiana Department of State Revenue.

State officials filed a restraining order that prevents Clark from conducting business in the state until the outstanding tax bill is satisfied.

Clark, who lives at 10203 E. Dodson Road, was further ordered to appear in Greene Circuit Court at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

"The defendants' acts of omission have made it prejudicially difficult for the department to track the defendant's business activities for the purposes of assessing and collecting sales," according to court records.

An investigation that began in June by the Indiana Attorney General's Office found that Clark sold dogs and puppies to consumers without charging sales tax or remitting sales tax to the state.

The investigation started when two consumers complained to the Attorney General's Office that they purchased a pug puppy for $500 from Clark who did not charge them sales tax. The puppy was diseased, and though the customers spent $2,986 in veterinary bills, the animal soon died from complications of pneumonia, dog lice and Coccidia, an infection contracted when dogs ingest fecal matter, the investigation found.

The state claims Clark owes $294,293.06 in sales tax from the sale of dogs and puppies that have gone unpaid for approximately nine years, through October 31, 2010. She also owes $17,168.57 in delinquent income tax over five years ending in 2009, records show. The total delinquency is $311,461.63 for 25 separate tax warrants dating back to Dec. 31, 2001.

"We support small business and entrepreneurship; but it is unfair to law-abiding, taxpaying businesspeople when one individual ignores state law and undercuts the competition by failing to collect or remit sales taxes," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a prepared release. "Beyond the significant tax delinquency, consumers had complained to my office about diseased dogs being sold by this facility. By no stretch of the imagination can this cash-and-carry operation be considered legitimate commerce."

By law, a jeopardy tax assessment filed in court is immediately considered a civil judgment against the delinquent taxpayer; and if the taxes cannot be paid immediately, then the state has the legal authority to seize the inventory of the business to satisfy the civil judgment -- the approximate 120 puppies and dogs in her possession.

Officials said the business is not registered with the state.

"State law requires anyone who owns more than 20 sexually intact female dogs for the purposes of breeding to register as a commercial dog breeder with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health," said Gary Haynes, Director of Legal Affairs for BOAH.

Although the Attorney General's Office normally does not have legal jurisdiction to file criminal charges, sales tax and income tax evasion are the exceptions, and the Attorney General can file such charges directly, which is what happened in this case.

Clark has not been charged with any crime while the investigation continues into the delinquent taxes.

The filing of the jeopardy assessment in civil court triggers a legal process where the Attorney General, representing the Department of Revenue, seeks to collect the delinquent taxes.

"It doesn't matter whether the merchandise consists of puppies, flat-screen televisions or tennis rackets: If a retail merchant is selling merchandise and not collecting and remitting sales tax as required by law, then the State of Indiana is authorized to take appropriate legal action to collect on the judgment owed," Attorney General Zoeller stated in a prepared news release.

After the jeopardy assessment was filed in court against Clark, then volunteers from several animal-rescue groups began the process of removing the puppies and dogs from their enclosures in a building on the property.

The dogs were loaded into cages and transported in trailers and animal rescue vans from Bloomfield approximately 35 miles to Bloomington, an operation that took several hours to complete. Because of the possibility the dogs might harbor disease, the volunteers exercised health precautions.

Several of the dogs were in immediate need of medical attention, according to a news release from the State Attorney General's office.

The animals were brought to the Pets Alive Spay/Neuter Clinic, 6522 South Empire Road, in Bloomington, where they underwent veterinary triage and will remain quarantined for several days.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) acted as the lead animal welfare organization in the rescue mission.

Jordan Crump, HSUS spokesperson talking to the Greene County Daily World from the animal shelter in Bloomington, said most of the dogs were located in a mobile home.

"We have about 20 volunteers here that we brought in from other parts of the country. We're doing the transport, the logistics and we're getting supplies here. We're financing pretty much the whole operation as far as supplies and vet care," she said in a telephone interview.

Crump estimated the cost of Wednesday's rescue could exceed $50,000.

She said much of Clark's business was transacted over the Internet through a website that she maintained.

Much of the supplies for the rescued dogs -- which are mostly puppies -- is being provided by PetSmart Charities.

"The dogs will be cared for until they are transported to humane organizations around the region where they will be available for adoption," Crump added.

When responders arrived on the property they found overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Several breeds of dogs were present including Maltese, ShihTzus, Pugs and Poodles. They were housed in small wire cages and runs inside a dirty mobile home. Some dogs were denied proper veterinary care and socialization as is typical in puppy mills, according to Anne Sterling, Indiana state director for The HSUS.

The Greene County Sheriff's Department assisted in the operation.

Consumers who purchased dogs from the Clark operation who wish to file a consumer complaint can do so by visiting www.indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516.

View 32 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Any info on if these dogs can be adopted, and if so, who to contact?

    -- Posted by just sayin'... on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 5:13 PM
  • I hate puppy mills.

    -- Posted by thegovenor on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 5:19 PM
  • "By law, a jeopardy tax assessment filed in court is immediately considered a civil judgment against the delinquent taxpayer; and if the taxes cannot be paid immediately, then the state has the legal authority to seize the inventory of the business to satisfy the civil judgment."

    Let's set aside the issue over whether this business is a hated "puppy mill" or not. After reading this then every business owner better be trembling in their boots. The state really can arbitrarily pronounce you owe any amount in taxes that they want to set and seize your assets to cover it. I seriously doubt this business made over a quarter of a million dollars in the last ten years let alone owe that much tax. We have laws to deal with "puppy mills" and animal cruelty but the state did not choose to enforce those, no they were here because they want their money?. If they are owed money well then that is for a court to decide not some bureaucrat in Indianapolis. Our government is out of control folks, the TEA party is our one last chance.

    -- Posted by keninman on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 6:27 PM
  • The HSUS is just a "respectable" front for PETA and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Their primary goal is the eradication of livestock agriculture and sport hunting and fishing. Don't confuse these animal rights loons with the American Humane Association, which is a good organization.

    HSUS does not operate animal shelters or care for animals. AHA does.


    -- Posted by JW on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 8:28 PM
  • To Keninman... I am a TEA partier as well and I think taxes are too high, but I also think taxes are necessary, maybe if everyone paid their fair share, all of our taxes would be lowered. Clearly, this woman did not pay her taxes concerning these sales. If she does not owe the 300,000+ then she should be able to come forward with the documents and prove that she does not owe that much money. It is m opinion that if she does not do that then she owes at least that much or more. I went to this woman's website and it says she has been in business for 25 years, the statue of limitations on this matter is only 5 years. As far as I'm concerned she is lucky they cant go back the whole 25 years, and also that she was not charged with the criminal charges that someone like you and me would have been. Bottom line is you have to pay your taxes, or yes the government has the right to come in and "guestimate" how much you owe in taxes, unless you can prove otherwise.

    -- Posted by payyourtaxes1 on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 8:33 PM
  • payyourtaxes1, I love how people can make up names on the spot. I think most readers here can spot you for what you are. nuff said?

    -- Posted by keninman on Wed, Dec 1, 2010, at 10:10 PM
  • I too want information on who to contact about adopting these animals. Does anyone have any ideas on who I should call?

    -- Posted by julez17237 on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 12:16 AM
  • WOW! That operation had been going on for a very long time and it was obvious those puppies were not being taken care!

    -- Posted by changeitup on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 12:20 AM
  • pleaseeee,give the person the benefit of the doubt here! just because she lives in a mobile home,she is unqualified to breed dogs?the media hype armed by the fanatical animal rights people want sympathy on the part of unknowing average citizens.this helps bring in the almighty $$$ ,and bleeding hearts racing to adopt the poor seized animals.BULL! why ,has the raid taken so long,and why now?Those of us who are not commercial breeders,and don't own 20 intact females want to know are we supposed to pay taxes on pups we sell,after paying taxes on everything else?aren't we taxed to death already?i wasn't aware a hobby that isn't profitable is subject to being taxed!i,can't believe thisw woman made over a quarter of a million dollars selling puppies in the time stated.that is ridiculously absurd!

    -- Posted by poordogbreeder on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 1:17 AM
  • to poordogbreeder, well she still has a chance to prove that in court, and if she cant then one must assume that she owes that much in taxes or more. simple as that. how is it fair for her to not have to pay taxes but the guy down the street who is selling cars for a living does? its not.

    -- Posted by payyourtaxes1 on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 1:51 AM
  • Hello....Why the heck are we talking taxes?....Is anyone missing the part where someone mistreated hundreds of sweet animals?? Right in own hometown no less. People need to get their priorities straight. People like this should be required to have a license,be inspected on a regular basis, and jailed for mistreatment and neglect, and loose thier business.....Its sad that it took a tax issue to draw attention to such a sad situation. SAD SAD......

    -- Posted by noveltygal on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 2:50 AM
  • Over 10 years ago, the Internal Revenue Service raided a horse ranch in Kingman, Az, & "seized" some valuable horses. But they didn't take ALL the horses. While the ranch owner was in jail, the horses left behind "starved for weeks" until animal control came out to investigate the complaint. The IRS seized the most valuable animals to satisfy their "tax lein", & left everything else to die, & financially ruin the "non-taxpayer". It was in the Kingman Miner newspaper & the Phoenix Sun.

    -- Posted by sullyst.gobain@gmail.com on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 3:06 AM
  • Hold your horses, poordogbreeder. When I see an article that describes how a verified diseased animal was sold, and that several of the dogs were in need of immediate medical care, and I have a caring urge to help those animals, I don't think that deserves the description of "bleeding hearts racing to adopt the poor seized animals." If it does, then mark me down as a bleeding heart, and I don't even own a pet.

    I don't see anyone making judgments on her breeder fitness due to her living in a mobile home. Though I don't see that the article says that she did. It says the dogs were found in one.

    As a small business owner, I don't feel a bit sorry for this lady. She could have avoided any action by the Attorney General that would have entailed asset seizure by simply doing what she was supposed to do. I don't know if she made a quarter of a million dollars selling puppies or not. Neither do you, and neither does the State. That is due to

    "The defendants' acts of omission have made it prejudicially difficult for the department to track the defendant's business activities for the purposes of assessing and collecting sales," according to court records. "

    If, as a business owner, you do not register to collect sales tax, charge sales tax as required by law, keep records of such, and pay said taxes, then you have no one to blame but yourself when the State assigns an estimated dollar amount to your revenues. Please note that I am using the general you, not the specific you.

    For the specific you, and the questions you have regarding being a breeder with less than 20 intact females.s...if I were you, I'd write the State with my questions, keeping copies of my letters and their responses. The CYA method is a good one.

    The alleged condition of the animals aside, this lady could have just played legally, and she would not be in this predicament.

    -- Posted by just sayin'... on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 9:53 AM
  • keninman, I believe we can all spot you for what you are. You need to grow up and get a real job.

    -- Posted by hilltop on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 9:54 AM
  • So where is the financial justice in regards to the Amish who pay no income tax, yet the biggest richest amish puppy miller in the state rakes allegedly millions in Oden, INdiana?

    -- Posted by STILLHOPEFUL on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 9:56 AM
  • good post just sayin.

    -- Posted by hilltop on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 9:57 AM
  • just sayin' I love your nickname on here...it is so awesome..I say that a lot, makes people really mad sometimes, but I gotta stick up for myself, cause no one else is gonna do it! lol just sayin'

    -- Posted by bretmichaelsfan on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 10:51 AM
  • Puppy mills should be illegal !!!!! There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to be a Breeder but this is ridiculous !!!! People like that are very disturbing :((( Hoping all the puupies find good homes and none have to be put down.

    -- Posted by aniamal lover on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 12:49 PM
  • where is the animal neglect charges? why are they getting by with that?

    -- Posted by fanman1945 on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 1:40 PM
  • I agree with noveltygal we are missing the point yeah everyone that runs any kind of business should pay what others do (taxes) but the little babies are the issue here.She should be handled like any other person that breaks the law she sold the babies to people that had the right to a healthy,happy,safe puppy. I head this morning that what these little guys have can be passed on to humans and other pets.

    This can,t go on these scum that treat animals like trash and a free ride to money should be treated like trash. I was told the other day that cats can,t freeze that really was the most stupid thing I have ever heard.Anything with blood can freeze even a worm. People really upset me at times. How can they be so stupid and blind and money hungry. Sad idots

    -- Posted by alicezimmerman28@gmail.com on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 1:42 PM
  • We at the HSUS are so grateful to the local groups and individuals who have assisted us in this case, especially Pets Alive Spay Neuter Clinic, which donated the space for the temporary shelter. We can't wait to see these dogs on the next stage of their journey to forever homes!

    -- Posted by AnneHSUS on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 3:05 PM
  • For those interested in adopting one of the dogs, you can see the full list of participating organizations at http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2010/12/indiana_puppy_mill_resc... and you can contact the individual groups for information about adopting.

    -- Posted by AnneHSUS on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 3:11 PM
  • @JW -- The HSUS is not affiliated with the other groups you mention. Our work is to celebrate animals confront cruelty, and we are the largest and most effective animal protection organization in the nation because of our success.

    While we are not affiliated with local shelters (nor do we claim to be) we do run 5 animal care centers that provide care for more animals per year than any other organization. Rescues like these in Indiana show that are work is not limited, our Puppy Mill Task Force and Animal Rescue Team members are on the ground right now caring for those dogs alongside other great groups, and we are proud to be able to help give animals like these dogs a better life.

    -- Posted by AnneHSUS on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 3:20 PM
  • @AnneHSUS...Am I looking at that list correctly, and the dogs will only be available for adoption up in the northern part of the state?


    -- Posted by just sayin'... on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 4:51 PM
  • For those of you wanting to adopt these dogs, it shouldn't take a puppy mill bust to get you to open your homes. Check your local shelter where there are always dogs and cats at risk of death and looking for good homes!

    -- Posted by UseYourBrain on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 5:32 PM
  • According to WTHI-TV website, these are the locations which will have the puppies for adoption:

    *Pet Refuge (will have dogs available for adoption)

    *Linda's Camp K9 (will have dogs available for adoption)

    -- Posted by reader0322 on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 5:36 PM
  • United Animal Nations (UAN) is proud to be part of this rescue effort. Fourteen volunteers who are specially trained in emergency animal sheltering have traveled to Bloomington from five states to help care for the rescued puppy mill dogs until they can be transferred to other organizations for adoption. You can learn more about UAN at www.uan.org.

    -- Posted by UAN1987 on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 5:46 PM
  • I just knew there would be many bloggers on this matter. It warms my heart!

    Fair and just treatment for this mill breeder should be exactly what she thought good enough for her animals. At the back of her property, in a mobile home with no medical care, great lack of sanitation and possibly not even enough to eat. Plus having to pay whatever deemed fair in taxes.

    This breeder was finally caught....what about the hundreds locally and statewide that are still mistreating and selling sick puppies? Will their turn be coming soon? I can only hope.

    Poordogbreeder seems to feel sorry for this mill operator. Makes me wonder if we would be welcome to visit and inspect her breeding facilities. Just wonderin'.

    -- Posted by weewire on Thu, Dec 2, 2010, at 7:03 PM
  • I can get the fact that people are upset that property, and business can be seized due to unpaid taxes at any time. The fact here is that we are dealing with a dishonest, heartless breeder who treats dogs like you would a pair of shoes. It was all about the money. Its very obvious she avaided paying taxes for YEARS. Is it fair to other business owners who pay their share?People like this raise our taxes. Most disturbing to me is the simple fact that our government does care more about collecting its money than the unjust and unfair treatment of animals. That it took this to get this business shut down is very sad. Can you imagine if your mother was locked in a cage her entire reproductive life and forced to have hundreds of babies until she died? All in the name of money.....She got what she deserved.

    If people would spay or neuter 1 out of every 2 animals, the amount that are put down in shelters each year would be cut in half.(3 million are euthenized in shelters per year by the way)Why do we need breeders to produce more animals to be put down? FOR GODS SAKE...Go TO A SHELTER....Save a life!

    -- Posted by noveltygal on Fri, Dec 3, 2010, at 3:38 AM
  • thatstheone:

    You are assuming that the folks that are commenting on this article that are very concerned about the well being of the dogs are not active and concerned about the well being of mistreated people as well. That is a dangerous assumption. In my experience those who are outspoken and active regarding animal issues are generous and active in helping their fellow man as well. You don't have to choose one or the other.

    If I was you, I would be more concerned about those who mistreat helpless animals - I think that is a much better indication of their level of respect for all life, canine or human.

    -- Posted by onetime on Fri, Dec 3, 2010, at 9:58 AM
  • This is about the misuse of animals, not humans. That is a totally different subject. I agree with you "that's the one" about people because there are a LOT of children in Greene County that are mistreated, but this subject is on the poor animals. I do not like dogs, I love cats, but it is still wrong to do what they did to the dogs and puppies..

    -- Posted by bretmichaelsfan on Fri, Dec 3, 2010, at 10:17 AM
  • onetime~well spoken....bretmichaelsfan~Thank you....

    thatstheone, if you would be so kind as to look at the article about the family life Center in the news section where you found this article, you will find a post from me there, and you will see that they were right about me caring about people and animals alike. I care about the mistreatment of anyONE,and ANY animal. I have 2 dogs in my life that are a part of my family. I cant imagine anyone hurting them. They are my childern, they are my childrens best friends, they comfort me and love me when im sad, they make me laugh.....People who say to me pshhh....its just a dog! Very sad human beings indeed.

    -- Posted by noveltygal on Fri, Dec 3, 2010, at 12:52 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: