Local News

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

Posted December 13, 2007 1:36 p.m. EST
Updated December 14, 2007 6:33 a.m. EST

— 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 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."