Shelly Lynn Whelan gets probation for abusing 200 dogs, rabbits
After a lengthy investigation near Rochester led to the removal of more than 200 dogs and rabbits from a farm property, the owner of the animals is getting a probationary slap on the wrist for the creature abuse.
Shelly Lynn Whelan, 38, pleaded guilty last month to one charge of gross misdemeanor overwork/mistreatment/torture of a dog and to a misdemeanor charge of overwork/mistreatment of another dog. She will be on probation for three years and not allowed to own any dogs during that time.
Investigators say Whelan was a dog breeder in Elgin when they searched her farm in May 2008. They found 80 dogs and puppies in cages and 125 rabbits. Police called it a "commercial puppy mill" where the animals were living in "deplorable sanitary and environmental conditions." All of the animals were removed from the property the next week.
This is the type of animal abuse that could be prevented by strong breeder laws in the state, says bill author Nancy Minion. Currently, there are no laws controlling animal breeding in "puppy mill" situations that lead to unhealthy and deadly conditions for the animals. Breeders are only regulated if they sell to pet stores, but are free to run their business independently without a license.
Minion's bill, currently in the House Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committee, would regulate the industry and require breeders to be licensed. Their facilities would be inspected and deemed safe for breeding. The companion bill in the Senate was voted down earlier this month.
"These conditions are only discovered when someone reports a suspicion to authorities," Minion says. "We need more regulation of this so we know what's going on behind the locked doors at breeding facilities."
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