Local News

Animal control investigating more puppy mill claims

Posted February 17, 2009 6:15 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Animal control authorities say they are investigating claims of a puppy mill operating at the home of a woman whose mother-in-law had nearly 300 dogs seized in a raid earlier this month.

Sampson County animal control officers went to the Newton Grove home of Kay Thornton last Thursday and saw an estimated 120 dogs, Sampson County's interim animal control director, Susan Holder, said Tuesday.

Officers also found "some things that concerned them about the operation," Holder said, although she would not elaborate.

The dogs had been removed from Thornton's home by Tuesday, and a sign posted on her door noted that all dogs had been given away and that the business was closed.

A man at Thornton's home refused to comment Tuesday morning and said Thornton also refused to talk about the puppy mill allegations or what happened to the dogs.

Holder said authorities have no plans to take action against Thornton, but will continue to monitor her operation.

Two weeks ago, Wayne County animal control officers and the Humane Society of the United States seized 283 dogs from Thornton's Kennels in Mount Olive, a business run by Virginia Thornton.

No charges have been filed in that case, although officials say they are still investigating. State law does not govern so-called puppy mills, although some state lawmakers want to introduce legislation that would regulate them.

Also Tuesday, Sampson County animal control officials and attorneys met with Wayne County officials about the case to learn more about legal issues and logistics involved for a seizure like the one in Wayne County.

They declined to comment on what they talked about, saying they did not want to compromise the investigation.