The former Hillsville man who was the subject of the largest puppy mill rescue in the nation now must pay more than $14,000 in civil penalties after a complaint by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Lanzie Carroll “Junior” Horton, Jr. has been assessed civil penalties totaling $14,430 after a November 7, 2011 complaint by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) alleged Horton willfully violated the Animal Welfare Act while doing business as Horton’s Pups.
Horton was found guilty of 14 counts of animal cruelty, 25 counts of neglect and one count of failing to obtain a license tax in 2008. The case stems from November 2007 in what was described at the time as the largest puppy mill rescue in the nation when Horton released more than 700 dogs to authorities.
During Horton’s trial, Carroll County Animal Control Officer Terry Woods testified that he and Dr. Kathy Davieds, a veterinarian, visited Horton’s dog kennel on Nov. 1, 2007, where Woods had approximately 1,080 dogs in a kennel licensed for 500.
The 2011 complaint was filed by Colleen Carroll, General Counsel for the USDA and APHIS. It accuses Horton of doing business without a dealer’s license under the Animal Welfare Act from 2006-2009.
According to mixed findings of fact and conclusions of law listed by Administrative Law Judge Jill S. Clifton, Horton was doing business as Horton’s Pups in Millersburg, Ohio, and previously in Hillsville.
Among the findings of Horton doing business without a dealer’s license:
- Horton sold 914 dogs to Pauley’s Pups between November 2006 and September 2007 without a dealer’s license under the Animal Welfare Act.
- On or around June 8, 2008, Horton sold 42 dogs to licensed dealer Ervin Raber.
- Horton sold two dogs to licensed dealer Harold Neuhart between December 2008 and January 2009
- On or around September 30, 2009, Horton sold four dogs to unlicensed dealer Pamela Knuckolls-Chappell.
According to the findings, Horton claims any violations were not “willful” and were not even “knowing.” Clifton wrote that no such determination is required for her to order Horton to cease and desist from violating the Animal Welfare Act. She also factored in the size of the business, the gravity of the violations, whether there was good faith involved, and the history of previous violations.
“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,” Clifton wrote in her ruling. “The gravity of the violations, each of which is the sale of a dog by an unlicensed dealer, is serious, especially considering there were 962 violations (914 in less than a year, ending September 2007; thereafter, the remaining 48 violations over roughly 16 months ending September 2009). Beginning on November 8, 2007, Respondent Horton failed to show good faith, in that he did not attempt to become licensed under the Animal Welfare Act, and he showed disregard for whether his sales activities were permissible while he had no AWA license.”
The judge wrote that Horton did not have a history of previous violations under the Animal Welfare Act, and she accepted Horton’s assertions that since November 2008, when he received his warning from an APHIS officer, that he ceased any actions that may have been in violation of the Act.
Clifton then ordered Horton to cease and desist from operating as a dealer without having obtained a dealer’s license under the Animal Welfare Act and assessed him civil penalties of $14,430.