Persistence pays; Rottweiler kennel closed
By: Norma Bennett Woolf Date: 06/30/1996 Category: | Canine Issues |
For eight years, Barbara DeWilde talked to everyone who would listen and plenty of people who wouldn't. She complained, she collected others' complaints, and she referred complainants to the appropriate agencies in Clackamas County and to the American Kennel Club.
The object of her anger and frustration? A Rottweiler breeding kennel owned by Ingrid Pearson and operated out of a vacant house and a wedding chapel in Portland, Oregon, a property in Multnomah County, and, later, a property in Skamokaway, Washington. DeWilde even offered to help Pearson work her way out of the mess, but Pearson refused.
AKC responded to DeWilde's complaint with an inspection of Pearson's records and suspended the breeder for seven years. No other agency took action in spite of confirmed cases of dog bites; multiple complaints about filth, odor, and malnourished animals; and official observations of accumulated feces, sick and injured dogs, and dogs housed in cabinets in the chapel.
Then, in late May, a sheriff's deputy chased two suspects through Pearson's property and reported the conditions to the Oregon Humane Society, and that agency decided to take action. They took dozens of emaciated puppies and dogs from her home near the wedding chapel and more dogs from the chapel itself and are investigating Pearson's Skamokaway kennel - where complaints of noise, odor, neglect, and dog bites have also been made - before filing charges.
DeWilde is a Rottweiler breeder, a member of Responsible Dog Breeders Association of Oregon, and president of the Oregon Purebred Rescue Association. Both RDBOA and OPRA handled complaints about Pearson's operation and have offered to help the human society care for the 60 dogs in their custody.
In 1988, DeWilde responded to Pearson's ad for Rottweiler puppies and visited her kennel - an abandoned house on Luther Street in Portland.
"I found an excessive number of Rottweilers, puppies from different litters mixed together, unhealthy-looking puppies, puppies with dull coats, distended bellies, undersized puppies, all living in the basement," DeWilde said. "Around the yard there were semi-trucks parked with fences built around the bottoms of them. Dogs were living in these fenced areas, underneath the trucks. Also in these areas, approximately 30 boxes of tripe were sitting out in the sun, rotting. The dogs were being fed the tripe.
"The most heart-wrenching situation I observed during this particular visit was when I discovered three boxes with no air, no sun, no water. Inside the boxes were male Rottweilers, chained. The next day I filed a complaint with Clackamas County Animal Control."
When she talked to the staff at animal control, she learned that they already knew about Pearson's kennel.
DeWilde then contacted the Rottweiler club and ultimately purchased a puppy from a breeder on the club's list. She said the Rottweiler club was also aware of the conditions at Pearson's kennel.
DeWilde then became involved in the Rottweiler club and breed rescue, and the complaints flowed in. She referred the complaints to animal control, zoning, vector control, and health departments, but still nothing was done.
Pearson has been uncooperative and evasive with authorities. She has denied officers the opportunity to make unannounced inspections, denied owning the dogs, claimed different numbers of dogs than were evident by casual observation, and moved dogs from one facility to another.
A review of several complaints shows that . . .
- In March 1990, Pearson failed to respond to a request from Clackamas County Animal Control to inspect the premises to satisfy a complaint about unsanitary conditions. Later that year after one of her dogs bit a four-year-old child, animal control cited her for failure to license 11 dogs.
- In April 1991, in response to a nuisance call about barking dogs, a dog warden found six adult Rottweilers and 15 puppies. He issued a verbal warning and notified the planning department about the number of dogs on the property.
- In January 1992, Pearson was again cited for failure to license her dogs. In March 1992, authorities investigated another dog bite complaint and noted "The smell of feces and urine was almost overpowering; subject also seems to have quite a problem with flies."
- In August 1992, an officer from Clackamas County Dog Control responded to a complaint of animal abuse at the wedding chapel property. In a 20-minute visit, the officer noted that the dogs' bedding was soiled, that strong fecal odor was evident, and that the dogs appeared to be in good health although some were missing hair on their backs and tails. She reported that the kennels were lined with electric wire to keep the dogs in and that one female with a litter of 10 puppies was locked in a "closet-type room" described by Pearson as a whelping room. Although Pearson assured the officer that she had only three adult dogs at each premises, the officer counted nine adults and 21 puppies at this location alone.
- In December, 1992 another child was bitten. The officer's report in this case makes note of prior complaints of unsanitary conditions and a lack of food and water. In his report, the officer said, "Subject (Pearson) also insisted that Officer Schaer not tell any 'animal activists' or Clackamas County Planning about this incident or the number of dogs she has on her property. She stated because of the planning department, she is always having to move dogs around...."
- In March 1993, on a trip to check conditions at the kennel, the officer reported that Pearson claimed she did not have keys to all the doors and could not give access to the entire kennel. The officer did see several dogs that appeared to be sick or injured, including a female with two-day-old puppies and a dark vaginal discharge; another dog without food, water, or bedding; and two dogs with open wounds. Pearson tried to stop the officer from photographing the dogs and the property. A week later, the officer found 12 adult dogs in the premises, three of them females with litters. The litter in the kitchen was newborn; Pearson refused to tell the officers how many puppies there were and she accused them of harassment. "The kennel area smelled of urine and wet and soiled bedding was the only thing for the dogs to sleep on," the report said.
- In early April 1993, a client at the wedding chapel reported appalling conditions and dangerous dogs on the premises and recounted an incident in which a child was injured. She told the county dog officer that Pearson told her "on numerous occasions that she (Pearson) has three different hiding places for the dogs so the county cannot keep a record of the number of dogs she has."
- In January 1994, one of Pearson's dogs bit the meter reader as he entered the property to read the gas meter. Five days later, a friend of Pearson's employee reported that Pearson rented a truck and moved the dogs to property in adjoining Multnomah County to avoid confiscation. Multnomah County officials found "numerous barking dogs locked in the truck." The dog that bit the meter reader was never identified, so no quarantine or health check was ordered.
- In March 1994, a complainant answered an ad for Rottweilers and reported that the dogs were kept in cupboards under the kitchen sink and in small rooms without windows or light. "She states that the dogs in the kennel area are covered inches deep with feces . . . that the entire facility smelled terrible and the dogs were very small." Pearson took this potential buyer to the Multnomah location where she had dogs, and the complainant reported to animal control that "other dogs were tied in terribly deep mud-feces mixed areas." The complainant also reported these conditions to that county's authorities.
- In January 1995, officers responded to a call about barking dogs at the wedding chapel, but Pearson did not answer the door. The officer later called Pearson and gave her a verbal warning about the noisy dogs. Pearson told the officer that she does not keep more than three adult dogs on the property at any time and did not know how many puppies she had. AKC's response
In 1992, DeWilde offered to help Pearson get her situation under control.
"I met with animal control and made a visit to Mrs. Pearson's to offer help to clean up her facility, feed, medicate, socialize, spay and neuter, and place some of her dogs through rescue,"DeWilde said. "At that time, she had 152 dogs or pups on the premises. She refused our help."
So DeWilde sent a package of information to AKC, and the registry became the first to take action. In August 1993, the AKC announced a seven-year suspension of registration privileges and a $500 fine. Pearson must pay the fine and acquire a new colony of dogs when the suspension is over if she wishes to regain her privileges.
In spite of the suspension, Pearson continued to advertise AKC-registered dogs. DeWilde notified the newspapers that Pearson had been suspended by AKC, and the newspapers no longer allowed her to advertise AKC pups. However, according to a woman who purchased a puppy in April 1993, Pearson was still claiming AKC-registered dogs as late as July 1994, nearly a year after the suspension took effect.
In March 1995, DeWilde again contacted William Hughes, AKC's director of investigations, and gave him information about Pearson's use of friends to register dogs. DeWilde said that AKC has acted against these people as well.
About The Author
All Authors Of This Article: | Norma Bennett Woolf |