Local News

Woman Settled Animal Rights Lawsuit 'for the Dogs,' She Says

Posted December 13, 2007
Updated December 14, 2007

— A Raleigh woman from whom authorities seized more than 100 dogs says she settled a lawsuit with an animal rights group for the benefit of the dogs.

"Mainly, I have settled for the dogs," Janie Conyers, 77, said in a news release that her attorney issued Thursday. "The poor dogs should not suffer to appease the radical agenda of the ALDF."

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed suit against Conyers, seeking a court order to prevent her from regaining ownership of the dogs. The two parties settled on Wednesday.

Animal control officers seized 106 dogs from Conyers' home Oct. 19 after a woman who was looking to breed her poodle reported filthy and crowded conditions to authorities. Conyers, a self-described dog lover, bred poodles for almost 50 years, including the country's top dog in the mid 1980s.

"Despite my vilification in the press, anybody who knows me knows that in my 50 years as a boarder and breeder of champion poodles, I have never abused or mistreated an animal, and I never would," Conyers said.

But Kelli Ferris, a Wake County animal-cruelty investigator, reported in search warrants that animal waste accumulated on the surfaces of the animal housing, that the residence was infested with cockroaches, rodent feces and strong smells of ammonia.

Conyers, 77, said she settled because she could not afford the time or expense to fight the suit.

"I am convinced we would have won, but I simply could not afford it," she said in her statement.

Terms of the agreement prohibit Conyers, who ran a dog grooming and breeding business, from owning any animals or caring for them in any capacity.

"I'm not even allowed to have my canaries back," she said. "And I enjoyed them. They sang their hearts out."

Conyers' attorney, William R. Pittman, said his client was "doing a good deed for a friend" by temporarily housing 40 of his dogs while he searched for a permanent home. He also said that she "became an unfortunate ancillary victim of an animal cruelty investigation of another person."

"The truth has not been told, and I'm being crucified, because people didn't ask what the truth was," Conyers said.

Conyers said the loss of her dogs has changed her life, but not for the better.

"That's why I got out of bed in the mornings, to take care of my babies," she said. "Now I don't want go to the shows. I don't want anything to do with dogs anymore. Because every time I look at them, I see my babies as they drove away with them in those vans."


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  • RYANROCCO Dec 14, 2007


  • St Ives Dec 14, 2007

    I do not think I judged her too harshly, after all animals need to be protected because thye can not speak for themselves. I bet she would not want a dog as a pet because it is all about greed. These people breed the animals for money, and it has nothing to do with loving dogs. People who love their pets spay and nuter them. Breeders are not all bad , but a good breeder keeps his or her dogs in a warm and safe enviorment, and only sells to people who will take care of them. She was also keeping dogs for someone else who was not allowed to own dogs, think about that for a second. Why was that person disqualified from being a "pet owner" this was nothing more than a puppy mill. Some of these dogs had jaws and faces so badly infected their faces were rotted away.....but they could still make babies!

  • Lissa13082 Dec 14, 2007

    I believe the woman was in over her head and did not realize the extent of what she was doing to these poor dogs. I believe that she should NOT be able to get all 100 of her dogs back, but that she should be limited to 1, 2 at the MAX. I think she may be able to handle that properly if she just has one or two to look after. I think it was wrong of them to ban her from ever having dogs again, but she should pay for what she did to the 100 dogs she had, whether she realized it or not. She is probably less capable of caring for dogs than she was 50 years ago when she started out!

  • thefensk Dec 14, 2007

    Yeah, the bottom line is if the "favor" kept extending and she found herself beyond a capacity to care for the dogs she should have called animal control and explained the situation and asked for their help in getting the other guy's dogs off her property.

    Unfortunately, I don't think we have the whole story here. As for missing her birds, I would guess she can put out some bird feeders and listen to the wild birds singing.

  • Steve Crisp Dec 14, 2007

    This is yet another clear case of what happens when people with a political agenda are allowed to drive our tort and criminal justice system.

    The same holds true for many folks who are charged with investigating sexual harassment and rape charges. And then you have the detectives whose families have suffered a murder and they put them in charge of murder investigations. Or those all too prevalent racist cops who look to blacks or Hispanics or Asians first no matter what the evidence may yield.

    The law should be founded on the truth and the WHOLE truth. Yet far too often the truth is withheld by DAs, attorneys on both sides of an issue, and most of the idiots who make our laws to begin with.

    When that happens, you have the power of the entire state and the court system coming down on your head and you have very little recourse unless you are independently wealthy or can find another special interest group to take your case on principle.

    Our judicial system is broken.

  • cocker_mom Dec 14, 2007

    It also appears that one reason that she had so many is that she was "helping" another person that was not allowed to own dogs in Wake County. Helping? Or hiding?

    And steal her breeding stock? Anyone involved in animal rescue has an overall distaste for breeders and these animals will be spayed or neutered before going to their forever homes so they will NEVER contribute another unwanted dog to the population again.

    It is too bad that either she or her breed club could not have figured out this was not a good situation - and placed the dogs without going through this civil action.

    I am having a really hard time with the fact that she was keeping dogs for another breeder that was not allowed to have dogs and acknowledges that THOSE dogs were sick.

    I suspect that "helping" put the situation over the edge and also put her on the wrong side of the authorities - because she was helping him evade an order to not own animals.

    It's too bad these folks cannot police themselves.

  • Heather Dec 14, 2007

    Dr. Ferris does work for NCSU but is also an animal cruelty investigator for the state. I'm with k9sandQtrs - she sounds like a hoarder/collector and got in way over her head. That number of animals is almost impossible to care for humanely when you're doing it alone.

  • jeepgirl Dec 14, 2007

    Although I'm sure she felt that she loved these animals, the fact is that she loved "her" animals. Any true dog lover would never breed more and more and more dogs when there are SO MANY that die every day because permanent homes cannot be found for them. I just don't understand how "dog lovers" keep breeding when they know they are selling their dogs (at a rediculously over-priced amount of money) to a home that could be housing a shelter or rescue dog. If a family wants a pure-bred dog--Adopt one from a rescue! They are out there; you just have to look for them!---ADOPT--DON'T SHOP!!

  • Pharmboy Dec 14, 2007

    She may be a nice person, but step back. 100 dogs! Whether it was for a friend or not, whether it was for a short time or not, she didn't have the capacity to keep things sanitary!

    Let the Vet decide if the dogs were kept in good condition. I think she overextended her abilities and now she is paying for her mistake. Personally, if she can't figure out what she did wrong nor accept responsibility, she should be lmited to a couple of canaries.

  • ECU_chick Dec 14, 2007


    "aegunc - So you are saying that dogs do not deserve love and affection? I would rather spend my money on dog's.. they do not go get high on crack and rape 80 yr. old women!"

    All youth/people that are disadvantaged do not get high on crack and rape 80 year old women. It's just an atrocity to society when we have children out here that are left anywhere alone and we put our necks out for dogs as much as we do. Not condoning the abuse of any animal, but people should come first.