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Horton fined for federal 'puppy mill' violation

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Five years after initial charges, former dog breeder faces $14,430 federal penalty

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A former Hillsville commercial dog breeder, convicted in 2008 of misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and neglect in Carroll County, now faces federal penalties after an enforcement action by a U.S. Department of Agriculture official.
A November 2011 complaint filed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) program accused Lanzie Carroll  "Junior" Horton Jr. of doing business without the necessary dealer’s license as required under the federal Animal Welfare Act.
This complaint has just recently resulted in a $14,430 fine against Horton.
Animal advocates brought attention to conditions at Horton’s Pups by taking an undercover video showing the conditions at the breeding operation in 2008. The advocates said at the time that the Hillsville facility with its estimated 500 to 700 animals was the largest operation they encountered during an expose on puppy mills in Virginia.
The complaint by Colleen Carroll with the APHIS Office of the General Council accused Horton of doing business without having obtained a dealer’s license over multiple transactions, according to the ruling by Jill Clifton, an administrative law judge.
These included:
• the 2006-2007 deal to sell 914 dogs for use as pets to retail store, Pauley’s Pups.
• the June 2008 agreement to sell 42 dogs to Ervin Raber, a licensed dealer.
• the December 2008 deal to sell two dogs to Harold Neuhart, a licensed dealer.
• the September 2009 deal to sell four dogs to Pamela Knuckolls-Chappell, an unlicensed dealer.
Horton argued to Clifton that he did not carry out any violations willingly or knowingly, according to documents from the proceedings.
Clifton believed that a penalty against Horton was justified, considering the size of the business, the gravity of violations and the history of previous violations.
“Respondent Lanzie Carroll Horton Jr., also known as Junior Horton, doing business as Horton’s Pups, operated a large business while in Virginia and operated a small business while in Ohio,” the ruling said. “The gravity of the violations, each of which is the sale of a dog by an unlicensed dealer, is serious, especially since there were 962 violations ...”
The ruling said that Horton failed to show good faith, as he did not try to get the necessary license under the Animal Welfare Act, dating back to the Nov. 8, 2007, incidents.
Horton additionally “showed disregard for whether his sales activities were permissible while he had no [Animal Welfare Act] license,” the ruling said.
The judge found no history of previous violations under the Animal Welfare Act by Horton.
The judge ordered Horton to “cease and desist from operating as a dealer without having obtained a dealer’s license under the Animal Welfare Act.”
The ruling also leveled a $14,430 civil penalty against Horton.
“The [Animal Welfare Act] requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public,” said officials with APHIS in a news release. “Persons who operate facilities in these categories must provide their animals with adequate care and treatment in the areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care and protection from extreme weather and temperatures.”
APHIS inspectors conduct unannounced inspections of licensed facilities in order to enforce these standards, the news release explained. Violations can lead to penalties such as warnings, fines and licenses suspensions and revocations.