Puppy mill shut down; woman faces charges

From Local Sources

LOOGOOTEE — A 73-year-old Loogootee woman is being held on a $20,000 cash-only bond after Martin County Sheriff’s Department deputies and an animal control officer shut down a reported puppy mill Thursday night.

Julia K. Arney was arrested on charges of animal neglect and animal cruelty when officials responded to a report of an active puppy mill. A warrant was served, and as many as 100 dogs, horses, donkeys and mules were reportedly found. Some were reportedly already dead at the property, and many were reported to be locked in feces-covered cages with no food or water, and many exposed to severe cold.

Rescue efforts by the Martin County Humane Society proved to be a monumental task, but an outpouring of support and aid buttressed those who worked tireless almost around the clock.

In addition to volunteers who assisted efforts, groomers, foster animal parents, animal trainers, equine rescue operations and other public and private humane societies reached out to the Martin County agency to offer resources and assistance. In addition, more than $7,500 was donated in the immediate aftermath of the discovery and rescue, funds that will help defray medical expenses and any housing costs.

In social media posts reacting to the rescue, many expressed support and gratitude for animal control officer Josh Hughett and sheriff’s deputies, and also condemned puppy mills.

At the height of rescue and recovery efforts, humane society workers found themselves actually turning away help, requesting that those concerned for the animals refrain from attempting to contact the humane society.

“This is way beyond our tiny humane society,” the agency posted on its social media account. “This is one of the worst things we have ever seen.

“Please do not private message us/ask us about adopting these dogs. We just want to save their lives right now. There are many more out there, and that is our one and only priority at the moment,” the post said Friday.

“Keep in mind this is part of a criminal investigation, and at this time we are just concerned about keeping some of these animals alive and getting them the health care they need. We aren’t even thinking about adopting any of them out at this point. So please, please do not bog down our phone and private messages with these questions. Thank you for understanding.”

Officials have not released the number of animals recovered or rescued, but the number exceeded the Martin County society’s resources. “Our shelter has the capacity to house 14 dogs comfortably, and now we have 43 in the shelter, plus we need to go get the rest of the animals [Friday]. And we have no idea what to do with the horses and donkeys,” the agency posted on social media.

Sheriff Travis Rousch, Hughett and a deputy responded to the complaint at a house on Rutherford Road. No one was apparently home when they arrived, but Rousch said they could see both dead and living dogs inside the house when they looked in the windows.

When a warrant was secured and the magnitude of the situation became apparent, reserve deputies were called to assist in the efforts.

Rousch said the charges against Arney are misdemeanors.

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