Case Snapshot
Case ID: 12626
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Thursday, Nov 1, 2007

County: Carroll

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Lanzie Carroll Horton, Jr.

Case Updates: 9 update(s) available

An undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States reveals what's being called a large puppy mill in Hillsville.

According to a news release, Carroll County Animal Control officers received a tip from the Virginia Partnership for Animal Welfare and Support (VA PAWS) and The Humane Society of the United States about the large dog breeding business.

Animal Control officers took a veterinarian with them to inspect the alleged puppy mill on November 1st. They found 1,080 small breed dogs in buildings and some in cages.

Since then, the owner of the property has agreed to surrender more than 980 of the dogs, since his kennel permit only allows up to 500 dogs on his property.

Junior Horton tells WSLS; he may be keeping more dogs than he's allowed to, but says they are well taken care of.

As for the more than 980 dogs to be seized, they will each be given an identification number, photographed, and have a written description to go along with their future care. Veterinarians will also examine and update the vaccinations of each dog, as well as implant a tracking microchip. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Carroll County Animal Control will oversee the operation.

VA PAWS, The Humane Society, and the Virginia/Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have agreed to help.

The more than 980 dogs are expected to be removed by the end of this week.

The investigation into the puppy mill is ongoing, but no charges have been filed.


Case Updates

A Carroll county man convicted of animal abuse is taking his case to a higher court. Junior Horton has put up a 25-thousand cash bond to take his appeal to the Virginia Court of Appeals in Richmond. This is Horton's second appeal.

He was convicted of 14 counts of animal cruelty and 25 neglect charges back in July.

The Hillsville man continues to run "Horton's Pups" and maintains his innocence.

Horton tells 10 On Your Side's Mollie Halpern that he refuses to "roll over".

A new law that will take effect in January prohibits anyone convicted of animal abuse from running a business like Horton's.

As a result, Horton says he'll likely take his business to another state.

No court date has been set.
Source: WSLS - Sept 10, 2008
Update posted on Sep 11, 2008 - 12:34AM 
Less than a week after being convicted of both animal neglect and cruelty, we get to see some of the hundreds of dogs a judge has allowed Junior Horton to keep at his kennel operation.

After his appeal was denied last week, Horton told us he had no plans of giving up his business.

Mollie Halpern asks, "Do you plan to raise dogs in the future? Horton answers, "Probably, hope so, we'll never quit, never."
Horton spoke one-on-one with Ten On Your Side's Investigative Reporter Mollie Halpern about his business, his take on the case, and his future plans.

Junior Horton's puppy mill, "Horton's Pups", grabbed national attention after it was raided in what was considered the biggest rescue operation in the United States.

The convicted animal abuser says there should be no concerns for the health of the hundreds of dogs he continues breeding and selling.

Horton invited WSLS 10 On Your Side to his puppy mill.

He didn't let us in all of the kennels --- saying we'd disturb the dogs.

But, did allow us to see the puppies on sale.

Junior Horton, convicted animal abuser, says "They got fresh water and we feed them twice a day."

Horton says he's an animal lover-not an animal abuser.

"This ain't right what they're charging me with it's not right, it got a raw deal on all this," says Horton.

Horton had more than one-thousand dogs at his business-but had a license for only 500.

He admits he's guilty of having too many dogs-not for abusing them.

He says the reason he let his business get out of control because… "I feel sorry for the dogs and take them in that's a lot of it i'm always getting calls people wanting to know if i need dogs or want dogs, I should've just turned them down but I didn't."

Mollie: "You learned a lesson?"

Horton: "Yea, I learned a lesson on that, I'm not going to get to that level, no."

That lesson came too late…

A judge ruled there was enough evidence to convict Horton on 25 counts of animal neglect and 14 counts of cruelty.

Mollie asks, "When you looked at the faces of those dogs, did it break your heart that you knew that one of them died and the others were sick?"

Horton replies, "It did."

Athough the judge is allowing Horton have 250 dogs...Horton can't run his business in Virginia for much longer.

A new law will take effect in January that prohibits anyone convicted of abuse to operate a business like Horton's.

Horton says the new law won't stop him.

He's considering taking his business elsewhere.

Horton says, "if they want to be a communism state, they got other states you know, that you got rights in, you can do what you want to do."

Horton is considering filing a second appeal.

A judge ordered hin to pay nearly 4-thousand dollars in fines for the charges-but he will not serve jail time.

Animal rights advocates say jail time should not have been suspended and that Horton should have served time for the abuse.
Source: WSLS - Aug 4, 2008
Update posted on Aug 4, 2008 - 5:11PM 
A Carroll ounty man accused of running a puppy mill loses his appeal on animal cruelty and neglect charges.

In November of last year, animal advocates took hundreds of dogs from Junior Horton's Hillsville business.

Horton admitted to running a kennel without a U-S-D-A license.

He handed over more more than 700 dogs and was only allowed to keep 200.

In January he was charged with several counts of animal cruelty and neglect.

In May,,he was found guilty in district court.

Horton appealed that decision-hoping a circuit court judge would rule differently.

That judge did not-it upheld the lower courts ruling.

"Junior Horton" had hoped all charges against him would be dropped.

But-after nearly 7 hours of testimony, the judge found the puppy mill owner guilty of 25 counts of neglect and 14 counts of cruelty.

He must also pay more than 35-hundred dollars in fines and restitution.

"Junior" Horton, of Horton's Pups,says, "Justice wasn't served, I got a raw deal."

Animal advocates say they also don't think justice was served.

They say Horton deserved jail time.

Kathy Poole, of the Floyd County Humane Society, says, "It was so obvious he was guilty the suspended sentence annoys me because we didn't have a dog go through our line that didn't have at least dental problems there were many health issues that really upset me."

The judge is allowing Horton to continue operating "Horton's pups" but with only 250 dogs. But a new law that takes affect in January prohibits anyone who's
been convicted of animal abuse from running businesses like Horton's. So, Horton really only has 5 more months to legally operate his business.>

Despite the new law- Horton and his family tell wsls 10 On Your Side that they will continue to breed and sell dogs.

Mollie asks: "Do you plan to raise dogs in the future?"

Horton replies, "Probably, hope so, we'll never quit, never."

Upon hearing that-animal rights advocates were outraged.

Poole says, "Somebody should put a stop to that man!."

Horton has the right to appeal his case a second time-an action he's considering.

Tony Horton, Horton's brother, says, "If you want to own a business i suggest you don't open it in Hillsville cause if they see you making money they'll come in and take it away from you."

Mollie asks, "Do you think that's why they shut you down and not animal cruelty?"

He replies, "This is communism, this is communism is what it is."

Horton's father says, "We did all they work raising them and they come and take em."

Horton has 30 days to make a decision on whether he'll appeal.
Source: WSLS - July 29, 2008
Update posted on Jul 29, 2008 - 10:34PM 
Junior Horton loses his appeal of animal cruelty and neglect charges. A Carroll County appeals judge upheld the district court's decision from May, when Horton was convicted on 14 counts of animal cruelty and 25 counts of neglect.

Horton must pay more than $3,500 in fines and restitution, but will not serve any jail time. He will be allows to operate Horton's Pups with 250 dogs for five months more.
Source: WSLS - July 29, 2008
Update posted on Jul 29, 2008 - 10:32PM 
The owner of a Hillsville dog-breeding operation from which authorities seized hundreds of dogs was found guilty of animal cruelty and neglect charges. Lanzie Horton Jr., known as Junior, received a 12-year jail sentence that was suspended by General District Court Judge Edward Turner.

The judge also suspended $2,250 of the 14 $2,500 fines for animal cruelty and $450 of the 25 $500 fines for animal neglect. He imposed the mandatory $25 fine for failure to obtain a dog license, and ordered Horton to pay the to-be-determined cost of veterinary services provided for the approximately 700 dogs taken from his property during the sting. Horton also was sentenced to active probation to be shared by New River Valley Corrections and Carroll County Chief Animal Control officer Terry Woods, who testified at the trial.

Horton operated Horton's Pups, where more than 1,000 dogs were discovered in November. He was accused of depriving dogs of food, water, shelter or emergency veterinary treament and failing to adequately house, feed, water, exercise or care for the animals.

"I'm not going to put him out of business yet," Turner said. "I don't think he's a cruel man. I am going to limit his operation to 250 dogs."

The judge also addressed the audience in the court room:

"I know that anything dealing with dogs strikes a deep emotional chord. It does with me," he said.

"This man is going to be carefully supervised."

Horton said he plans to appeal.

In his testimony, Horton said he had a lot of money invested in the operation and contended that he took care of the puppies. He agreed, however, that he did have an excessive number of dogs.

"I knew I had too many dogs," he said. "I could have sold every one of them. I lost thousands of dollars on pups I could have sold at Christmas."
Source: Daily Press - May 17, 2008
Update posted on May 18, 2008 - 9:10PM 
More dogs that were seized several months ago in a puppy mill investigation are now ready for adoption in Richmond.

Since November, the Richmond SPCA has cared for 29 dogs taken from a Carroll County dog breeding operation.

Thirteen of the animals have been undergoing extensive rehabilitation to recover from severe health and behavioral issues.

Many of the dogs will be available for new owners today.

"I don't think we expected them to be here this long," says Dr. Angela Ivey, the veterinary director of the Richmond SPCA, "but as they continue to make strides in improving, you didn't want to stop until you knew you had them as best as you could possibly get them before you get them out of here."

The man who owns the puppy mill is set to go on trial later this month.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the dogs can contact the Richmond SPCA at 643-6785.
Source: NBC 12 - Feb 8, 2008
Update posted on Feb 8, 2008 - 3:10PM 
This morning (Thursday, January 31st) Animal Control officers in Carroll County charged Lanzie Carroll Horton Jr. (Horton usually goes by Junior) with multiple counts of animal cruelty and neglect, in connection with the case.

Horton is the owner of "Horton's Pups" in Hillsville.

The full list of charges include:

* 14 counts of animal cruelty: Animal Control says Horton deprived dogs of necessary food, drink, shelter, or emergency veterinary treatment. The charges are class one misdemeanors.

* 25 counts of neglect: Animal Control says Horton failed to adequately house, feed, water, exercise, or care for animals in his possession. The charges are calls 3 misdemeanors.

* One count of failing to obtain a license tax for the approximately 125 adult dogs exceeding Horton's kennel license. This charge is a class 4 misdemeanor

Carroll County Commonwealth Attorney Gregory Goad tells us Horton turned himself into the sheriff's department today. Horton posted a $5,000 bond, and was released on his own recognizance. Horton is due in court next week.

The Humane Society's dog rescue operation took place back in November, after the Humane Society conducted its own undercover investigation regarding dog breeders in Virginia. The rescue ended up taking about 700 dogs from Horton's Pups. Horton voluntarily gave up all but 200 of his dogs. The dogs were placed with 17 adoption agencies, including six in Virginia.
Source: WLSL - Jan 31, 2008
Update posted on Jan 31, 2008 - 5:22PM 
About 130 dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Virginia will be up for adoption Friday at the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, an official with the group said.

More than 980 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill in Carroll County, Va., last week by about 25 animal rescue organizations, said Devera Lynn, North Shore's vice president of communications. The league is taking in 132 dogs -- the most of any organization.

"You can tell they've never had any human contact before," Lynn said at the shelter Saturday amid a symphony of barks and howls. "But you can see they've been craving it."

The dogs are mostly small-breed female puppies, ages 6 months and up.

The dogs were taken after a five-month investigation by the Humane Society of the United States of commercial breeder Junior Horton, said Gary Larrowe, Carroll County administrator. Horton, the owner of the breeding mill, may face criminal charges of animal cruelty. He will keep 200 of the dogs and acquire proper licensing.

A decision on whether to file criminal charges against Horton is expected within a few weeks, Larrowe said.

Before the operation last week, Horton called the effort to remove dogs from his farm "dognapping."

"They just come in on me out of the blue," he said. "I've got the best kennel in southwest Virginia."

Upon arrival at North Shore, the dogs' hair was filthy and matted, their nails so long they curled into their paws, leaving some unable to walk. Their ears were crusted with dirt.

Most of the dogs had spent their entire lives in cages, often with two or three other dogs, and had never been outside. Dogs kept in puppy mills are often used to produce several litters.

Lynn said the League gives the dog medical and behavioral evaluations and treatments, spaying and neutering, and extensive grooming and bathing.

"Some of the dogs are so shaken up, we have to be extra gentle with them, so not to scare them further," said groomer Cindy Ventura, as she shaved matted fur from a white bichon frise before washing him.

Those interested in adopting a dog should visit the shelter to make an appointment with an adoption counselor.

"These dogs actually have hearts and souls, and they feel pain," Lynn said. "And they want to be loved so badly. Hopefully, they'll all get that chance."
Source: NY Newsday - Nov 12, 2007
Update posted on Nov 13, 2007 - 2:42AM 
They were going to care for some of the dogs taken from a suspected puppy mill in Carroll County this week. But officials with the Danville Humane Society say there aren't any left because more than 200 of them are gone.

Officials with the Humane Society of the United States say either there was a miscalculation in counting or possibly, the owner sold, hid or did something with the animals.

Paulette Dean, Danville Humane Society - "One thing, in order to survive in this business you have to understand that you can't save them all, but you sure do want to."

Still no charges filed against Junior Horton, the Hillsville breeder who was only licensed to have 500 dogs, but was caught with an operation of more than a thousand.
Source: ABC 13 - Nov 9, 2007
Update posted on Nov 13, 2007 - 2:44AM 

References

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