Pet Delivery Driver Charged With Cruelty

 |  Jul 10th 2009  |   14 Contributions


I want to thank Debbie for sending me this story and helping to expose another animal abuser, let's hope Clayton gets what he deserves.

WEBSTER - A Missouri man who delivers animals to pet stores was arraigned Thursday on animal cruelty charges after police rescued what they said were weak, limp and sick puppies from his van.

John T. Clayton, 44, of Missouri told authorities he left Missouri Monday night, and the puppies had not been walked since then, police said.

Police said 27 puppies were crammed into small cages, surrounded by animal waste, filth and flies, in a locked box truck parked in front of a Main Street pet store Wednesday afternoon.

In Dudley District Court Thursday, Mr. Clayton pleaded not guilty to the cruelty charges. Bail was set at $1,000.

Before his arrest, Mr. Clayton had just delivered 10 puppies to Elite Puppies, 172 Main St., and had delivered nine puppies to Laughlin Kennel in Oxford, according to police. He may have dropped off puppies at other New England locations as well.

The case unfolded after two people drove by the delivery box truck when it was parked in front of Elite Puppies on Main Street about 2:45 p.m. They heard barking dogs and feared the dogs might be distressed. They flagged down a police cruiser and called an animal rescue organization.

Police Sgt. Michaela N. Kelley went to Elite Puppies and spoke with employees.

"From there, it went downhill for Mr. Clayton," Sgt. Thomas V. Ralph said in an interview Thursday. Swarms of flies surrounded cages filled with puppies in poor health, according to police reports, and there was animal waste in and around the small cages.

Some puppies appeared to limp, and one puppy was completely unresponsive, according to police.

There appeared to be about five puppies in each cage. When she saw the condition of the puppies, Sgt. Kelley contacted the Animal Rescue League of Boston and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to assist in her investigation. She also called Webster EMS and paramedics to check on the puppies.

About half of the puppies were initially taken to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, and the others were taken to Webster Lake Veterinary Hospital on Thompson Road. The 10 puppies delivered to Elite Puppies remained in quarantine in the back of the store, according to police.

The puppies were being delivered via Puppy Ship, a Missouri-based company.

Puppy Ship is a USDA-licensed company, according to Mr. Davis. He said there are strict guidelines for providing animals with adequate water, food, ventilation, adequately sized cages, and clean conditions. He said Mr. Clayton is a longtime driver for Puppy Ship.

"All these things we followed and we try to go above and beyond," Mr. Davis said. "We are inspected on a regular basis, and we have never had an issue."

According to authorities the puppies appeared to be about five weeks old. I could not believe dogs that young are being driven across the country to be delivered to pet stores. I personally don't believe that pet stores should sell puppies and find it appalling that they accept dogs so young. As for Laughlin Kennel's, all you need to do is search online to read about the controversy surrounding them. Not only are they breeders they also broker 30 different kinds of dogs, which may explain the puppies they were buying.

It sounds like the authorities should be investigating more than just Mr. Clayton.

* Pic courtesy WEBSTER HEALTH BOARD

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