Saturday, March 18, 2017

South Dakota: Humane Society director Jacque Harvey releases a statement regarding their involvement regarding Janell Gibson's puppy mill

SOUTH DAKOTA -- After Janell Gibson's puppy mill operation DOODLES TO LOVE was shut down and nearly 80 animals rescued, it was learned that the Humane Society had issued Gibson permits in the past. There were questions also as to why the Pennington County Planning Commission revoked Gibson's permit in February 2016 - but apparently never verified that Gibson had shut down the operation, leaving the animals to suffer for another 10 MONTHS before the police rescued the animals in December 2016. 

Here is a statement released by the director of the Humane Socity of the Black Hills, I guess, to try to explain their involvement. 

The Humane Society of the Black Hills (“HSBH”) contracts with Pennington County to provide shelter for the animals from the county. The HSBH is not contracted to provide animal control services to the County. In particular, the HSBH does not respond to calls regarding animal issues in the county unless it
is specifically requested by the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office to provide assistance for the County’s animal control activities.

When any business or individual applies for a kennel license through HSBH, our Animal Services and Enforcement (ASE) Officers have the authority to conduct the initial inspection of the premises. If the premises are up to HSBH’s standards, the Senior ASE Officer signs off on the kennel license. The license
then moves on to the County for its approval. The County has the final authority to either approve or deny a license. After the license is issued, HSBH’s ASE Officers do not have the authority to conduct searches or subsequent inspections without a Sheriff’s Deputy’s supervision.

Then why have any involvement at all? You go out there at the beginning when everything is nice, clean, new -- because the breeder is wanting a permit. You go out there ONE TIME, sign off on it, and never have any other involvement?? Maybe you should just stay out of it completely then because any time things go south, as they clearly did here, it just sullies the name of the humane society and makes it seem as though they're complicit with puppy mills...

The following is a timeline of events pertaining to Jenell Gibson’s business, Doodles to Love.
  • In 2010 a Pennington County Sheriff’s Deputy was called out to 19285 216th Street in Creighton, South Dakota for a welfare concern regarding the animals on property that were being bred and sold. The Deputy responded and informed Janell Gibson that she needed a kennel license in order to have as many dogs as she had at that time on the property. It was stated that she owned 52 dogs, 15 cats, and 18 puppies at that time. This would be a total of 85 dogs and cats on the property.
  • On April 15, 2010, Jenell Gibson submitted an application for a kennel license for a total of 51 animals to the HSBH.
  • In 2011, her application was submitted on March 10, 2011. The number of animals she stated would be housed at the location was 49 total.
  • In 2012, Gibson’s kennel license application was submitted on March 6, 2012. The number of animals she stated would be housed at the location was 65 total.
  • In 2013, Gibson’s kennel license application was submitted on March 6, 2013. The number of animals she stated would be housed at that location 65.
  • Senior ASE Officer Kent Brown’s service with the Humane Society of the Black Hills ended in 2013 and Tonya Sabin took over his position.
  • In 2014, Gibson’s application was submitted on February 11, 2014. The number of animals claimed to be on the property at that time was 63. The application was submitted one month and 12 days late for the application deadline of December 31, 2013. This time, an inspection was completed by Tonya Sabin, Senior (ASE) Officer. The inspection was performed on May 6, 2014. The total number of animals was 69. Several cats and kittens were not counted in that number. There was a pregnant goat in active labor located in the same enclosure as the dogs. Each kennel had multiple dogs inside of them; some had up to 9 dogs. Officer Sabin observed that everything was wet and muddy due to holes in the roof of the barn. There was very little light in the barn. There was no bedding inside the kennels for the dogs, forcing them to stand and lay in the dirt and mud. The cats and kittens were kept on top of the dogs’ kennels, and they were visibly stressed due to the barking dogs. None of the dogs were groomed and all appeared to be matted and in very poor conditions as far as their skin and coats. The cats on property did not match what she states she breeds and sells. 
  • Officer Sabin called the Pennington County Sheriff’s office to perform a welfare check on the animals as she felt the animals were in unsanitary conditions and were not receiving proper care and treatment. A Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the site and agreed that the conditions were not ideal. He counted 100 animals (77 dogs and 23 cats) before he lost count, and stated there were more on the property. He also observed that there were no dishes or water available. Because of the conditions, Gibson’s kennel license was denied by HSBH. She was asked to comply with certain conditions in order to be granted a kennel license, including placing gravel on the kennel flooring for the dogs to assist in keeping the kennels sanitary. She was also asked to provide more water containers and dishes for the animals as the dishes that were provided were very small. Once Gibson’s facility was in compliance, she would be granted a kennel license.
  • In 2015, Janell Gibson was issued a kennel license signed by Pennington County representative P.J. Conover and ASE Officer Sabin—upon meeting certain criteria, such as laying pea gravel and providing more water and food dishes.
  • Janell Gibson did not apply for a renewal of her kennel license for 2016.
  • This, I believe is incorrect - it's not that she didn't apply for one, it's that it was denied. The other article said that the Planning Commission revoked her permit in February 2016 BUT NEVER BOTHERED TO VERIFY THAT SHE HAD SHUT DOWN HER BUSINESS THAT SHE'D BEEN RUNNING FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS. WHAT DID THEY THINK SHE WAS GOING TO DO WITH 100 ANIMALS AFTER THEY SIMPLY TOLD HER TO STOP???


  • December 19, 2016, HSBH received an anonymous complaint about Gibson’s animals. The HSBH’s Animal Services and Enforcement Department called the Pennington County Sheriff’s office and spoke to Deputy Dressler about the complaint, and recounted previous issues with Gibson at the Creighton address. Deputy Dressler called ASE Officer Sabin when he arrived on property, and he told Officer Sabin he could see at least six dogs through a hole and they appeared to be laying in dirt and did not have food or water. He also observed that he could hear other dogs barking. Deputy Dressler stated he was concerned for the welfare of the animals and assured ASE Officer Sabin that he was going to call his supervisor and request a search warrant. Once the search warrant was granted, he told ASE Officer Sabin to prepare for an animal seizure at Gibson’s residence.
HSBH did what it could to make sure that Gibson’s animals were receiving adequate care. Again, HSBH’s contract with the County does not include providing animal control services, only impoundment. ASE Officers may be asked to assist with an animal control situation, but does not have the power to issue citations or seize animals outside Rapid City limits. Issuing citiations or seizing animals in Pennington County is the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Department.

At HSBH, our goal is to keep animals in their homes, and we worked with Janell Gibson to help her improve the animals’ living conditions to keep them healthy. For a time, Gibson’s animals were in fair condition. However, when Officer Sabin observed extremely unsanitary and unhealthy conditions in 2014, HSBH did not renew her kennel license. When Janell Gibson demonstrated that she complied with HSBH’s requirements by laying pea gravel underneath kennels and providing more food and water bowls, the HSBH granted her a kennel license. The County also appears to have attempted to assist Gibson in cleaning up her facilities by issuing conditions with the approval of her conditional use permit.

At some point between June 8, 2015 (the date of the County’s Staff Report on Gibson’s conditional use permit) and December 19, 2016, the animals’ health and living conditions deteriorated, prompting an anonymous tip to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department and followed by the County’s seizure of over 70 animals.