It’s been a while since I’ve ranted. My focus has mainly been on the Piper case, which I will return to once the trial resumes. This particular story has steamed me for quite some time. It’s a story most have already heard, since we are now coming up on the one year anniversary of one of the greatest injustices ever carried out against a dog owner and breeder.
Let’s start back in June of 2015. Indianapolis has a problem. Animal cruelty is apparently a big issue in the area, yet only 11 criminal cases were heard in 2014. The Indianapolis Animal Care And Control team (IACC) went through a week long training called the National Animal Cruelty Investigative School, following which, the team was charged with a 25% increase in criminal convictions 2015. In fact, here is a quote:
“The more cases that the judges are seeing and the public is seeing the more convictions we’re going to get,” said Deputy Chief Kim Wolsiffer, with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.
So here it is, already June, and they just agreed to a pretty tall order. To increase 2015 convictions of animal cruelty by 25%, they would need several cases to go before a judge… or one BIG one.
But the holiday season is full of miracles isn’t it? Magically the opportunity to make good on their promise presented itself the beginning of November, just in time. What a coincidence…
Entering the picture is a hard-working man who has built a reputation for quality dog breeding and training. This man is Paul Upton and the kennel is Upton’s Famous Pet Training Center. His dogs are from champion show and imported lines and his business was thriving. He has been breeding for 35 years and each year consistently has passed annual inspections of his dogs and facility by animal control, with zero violations and never lower than a rating of “Good”. In April of 2015, the kennel received a rating of “Excellent” for the annual inspection. Paul had visitors all the time to his kennel – boarding customers, training customers, puppy buyers…. He did not have complaints. He did not have anything to hide.
But on November 5th, 2015, just 7 months after his “Excellent” rating given by IACC, and a little over one month before IACC’s deadline to increase animal cruelty convictions by 25%, suddenly Mr. Upton’s facility was “randomly” inspected. The next day, IACC showed up again, this time with a news crew, and every dog in the facility taken away, including some of his client’s dogs. Mr. Upton’s valuable, healthy, and well trained German Shepherds were loaded up and taken from their home, and along with them, Mr. Upton’s business was stripped from him.
What was his crime? Well Kim Wolsiffer of IACC said the raid turned up some things that were “a little unsettling”. She then told news crews, “A majority of the concerns we had were along those lines; the size of the kennel that the animals were being kept in and the medical concerns that we’d seen with multiple animals”.
That wasn’t vague at all was it? Typically, if animals are seized, the agencies happily spew any gory detail they have on the horrid conditions as it only increases public support and donations. No one seizes 30+ dogs and shuts down a 30+ year old business because some things are “a little unsettling”.
(Healthy and beautifully fit German Shepherds at Paul Upton’s Training Center)
Regarding the kennel size, the kennels at Upton’s facility are actually larger than required by regulation, and appear much larger than the kennels at the animal control facility that his dogs were taken to. As far as medical concerns, other than a scrape or two here and there, the dogs were in good health. Unlike one of his client’s German Shepherd puppy which was returned by IACC to the owner with a broken tail and no explanation.
Let’s momentarily entertain the idea that this was not just a “snatch and grab” move on the part of a department that desperately needed to make good on their promise. Let’s say they really had the welfare of the dogs in mind as we imagine the scene that played out.
They took working dogs from a regular working and training routine in a well kept kennel, and put them all in a facility that has historically been understaffed and overcrowded. The dogs are put in kennels that are smaller that what they are used to and fed a different food without the benefit of being gradually switched over. The stress alone of that kind of move and immediate change of diet can cause immune systems to drop, making the dogs susceptible to disease and infection.
Here’s another interesting piece of information. On September 24th, 2015, IACC had put down 3 of their dogs due to a distemper outbreak. All of the remaining dogs were isolated and put on antibiotics which would take 4 days to kick in and 21 days to take full effect. Less than 3 weeks after that, the Upton German Shepherds, including young puppies, are seized and brought into those same facilities. These same facilities, according to IndyStar, went many months without a veterinarian, resulting in underqualified shelter staff making veterinarian decisions based alone upon bloodwork and x-rays.
These are the same facilities that have been referred to as “squalid” and in the past has been under scrutiny for breaking their own animal cruelty laws, while at the same time serving to enforce proper animal care in the community. Just 5 years ago, their adoption rate was 49%, meaning over half of the dogs that came through their doors, were euthanized. There have been improvements since then, but as recent as January 2015, they were pleading for funding, stating that there was not even a food budget for the facility which has held over 500 dogs at once. They relied upon donations from the public, which meant there was never a guarantee of quality or consistency in what the dogs were fed on a day to day basis. And with donations, there is never a guarantee that there will even be enough.
(photo from an IACC visitor-notice the disgusting water at the bottom of a nearly empty pail)
So, you tell me… were the Upton German Shepherds “saved”?
Paul Upton has been charged with 37 counts of animal cruelty and 10 counts of failure to permanently identify his animals. IACC wants $112,500.00 in fines and Paul has been ordered to pay $6150.00 per month for the care of his dogs until the case is heard and until the dogs either become the property of IACC or are returned to Paul. If he does not pay this amount within 3 days of the due date, all of his dogs are forfeited. Even if Paul is found not guilty, the $6150 per month is non-refundable.
So, they ruin his business, they take his dogs, they trash his hard earned reputation, they destroy his source of income, and they charge him almost $200 per month per dog after practically stealing them from him in the first place? In what world does that make sense?
Oh and since last November a few more things have happened. One of his females has been put to sleep. No word yet on what the necropsy revealed. Two of his females gave birth and one lost their entire litter, while the other lost one of their litter of 10. The shelter claimed they had no idea they were pregnant. In fact city prosecutor Mark Pilzur was fired for falsifying records, covering up the fact they HAD been told about the females being bred, and SHOULD HAVE been watching them for signs they were in whelp. How exactly do these animal experts who are so concerned with the welfare of these dogs, not notice two of them are pregnant and completely miss the fact they were in labor? Take a look at the photo. She is obviously pregnant to anyone with half a brain.
Paul requested to be able to take the surviving of puppies to ensure they receive adequate care, but was refused. The puppies haven’t been seen, but as far as we know, they’ve been living in a shelter environment for 10 months without the benefit of the socialization and training that puppies so desperately need and would have gotten at Upton’s.
So here we are, 11 months and nearly $70,000.00 later. The hearing has been delayed time and time again, causing Paul to shell out thousands each month for the obviously substandard care his dogs are receiving. In the meantime and as recently as two months ago, the shelter has been having huge adoption events because they are overcrowded and understaffed. The shelter can house 500+ dogs and Paul’s dogs have been there for almost a full year. Can you imagine what the noise level alone is doing to these dogs? How about being confined to their kennels day after day? What about the smell of 500 dogs in the morning before the staff comes in at 11 am? According to another report on the shelter, IACC cleans their kennels when they open at 11 am and by then, the stench is unbearable.
- Paul Upton would be charged with animal abuse if he waited until 11 am to clean his kennels and his facility was filled with the smell of feces and urine.
- He would be charged with abuse if he housed them in kennels the size of IACC’s kennels.
- He would be charged with abuse if his dogs were left in kennels day after day without handling and exercise.
- He would be charged with abuse if he had let one of his females whelp alone on a cold kennel floor and all of the puppies died.
- He would be charged with abuse if he had a client’s puppy for only one day and returned that puppy to the client with a broken tail and no explanation.
- He would be charged with abuse if his kennel relied on donations to feed his dogs and gave them whatever food was on hand, whether or not it was nutritionally adequate.
- He would be charged with abuse if he subjected his dogs to the deafening sounds of 500+ dogs in an overcrowded kennel, day in and day out without relief.
But wait, he has already been charged with abuse and he has done NONE of those things…… But apparently IACC has.
(Above: Paul Upton’s kennel on the left, IACC’s kennel on the right)
Next month, on November 6th, Paul’s dogs will have been gone for one year. What devastating and lasting effects has IACC done to his business by closing it for 12 months? Paul’s clients have stood by him, having seen the care and cleanliness of his kennel on many occasions. But after a year, many customers will have found another kennel to do business with out of necessity and not all of those customers will come back if and when he is able to re-open.
What devastating and lasting effects has IACC done to his dogs? I can’t even imagine being in his shoes. He must have ulcers on top of ulcers by now, worrying and wondering when this will all end and how it will all end. If this craziness was allowed to happen in the first place, what might be decided in court? What twisted mentality might prevail rather than common sense?
The public outcry on this case has been tremendous. And it’s simply because common sense screams that this is not fair. The powers that be have not only overstepped their boundaries, but once over the line they tore up the lawn, graffitied the buildings, littered in the streets and peed on the bushes.
And they’re inches away from getting away with it all.
We hope and pray that this is the end of it. The next hearing date is late November… and hopefully there will be no more delays. Another payment is due soon, and if it’s not made he will forfeit his dogs to IACC so they can sell them off for a profit. Even more profit than the nearly $70K they’ve already received.
We’re behind you Paul. We are in shock that this has even happened and we’re behind you!
I’ve included a link below to the GoFundMe account that has been running to assist with the monthly expenses. As you can see, it has not quite kept up with the costs of this past year. Please consider helping out Paul with a donation. Anything will help. His dogs have been supported by a lot of people giving a few dollars here and there, for the past several months… please consider joining us in helping to offset the costs unjustly imposed on a man who has had his livelihood stripped from him literally overnight.
(I will be updating this site on the upcoming court date. Please note that Paul has been on a gag order since the beginning of this year and the information above has been taken from news reports on the case as well as news reports on IACC. None of the information has been obtained from Paul himself.)