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July 13, 2009

Notorious Va. Puppy Miller Sentenced Under New Puppy Mill Law

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is pleased that convicted puppy mill operator Lanzie "Junior" Horton will no longer be able to own or operate a dog kennel in Virginia under a new law that came into effect in January 2009. Horton's most recent court appearance was Friday, when he was found guilty on two counts of animal neglect and other charges filed in January.

Horton, who is Virginia's most notorious puppy mill operator, was charged under Virginia's new puppy mill law. This is Horton's second conviction for animal related neglect charges since 2008 when he was convicted of 25 counts of neglect and 14 counts of cruelty.

“The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to see the new law enforced. It will prevent Junior Horton from ever operating a puppy mill in this state again,” said Stephanie Shain, senior director of the Puppy Mills campaign for The HSUS. "Unfortunately, since there are still many states that do not currently have legislation against abusive puppy mills, Mr. Horton may simply move his operation elsewhere. We caution neighboring states to be watchful, and urge them to implement strong puppy mill laws like Virginia's."

The law, which strengthens the state's previous dog related laws, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. It limits the number of breeding dogs permitted at a large-scale dog production facility to no more than 50, and requires female dogs to be examined by a veterinarian prior to breeding, among other improvements.  

In January 2009, an unannounced inspection of Horton's property in Hillsville, Va. uncovered numerous violations of the law and resulted in charges against Horton. The charges included multiple counts of neglect, harboring too many adult dogs and failing to maintain adequate health records.

Puppy mills are mass dog producing facilities that keep animals in cages or kennels, often in squalid conditions with little or no exercise, socialization or human interaction for years on end. Dogs from puppy mills are often sold online or through the classifieds to unsuspecting consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health or genetic history. A number of citizens have complained to The HSUS and local officials after allegedly purchasing sick and dying puppies from Horton and breeders like him.

To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills.

Timeline:

  • January 2009: An animal control officer and a representative of the Virginia state veterinarian's office conducted an unannounced inspection of Horton's property. They once again found numerous alleged violations and charged Horton and his alleged associate, Donald Frazier, with multiple counts of neglect, harboring too many adult dogs and failing to maintain adequate health records.
  • April 2008: Virginia passed legislation that strengthened protections for dogs in abusive puppy mills. The new law sets specific age standards for breeding, requires annual certification for each dog by a licensed veterinarian, and limits the number of adult dogs kept at one time to no more than 50 dogs, and includes other very basic care standards. 
  • November 2007: Soon after the investigation was released, The HSUS, along with local animal welfare groups, assisted as law enforcement authorities raided Horton's Pups puppy mill and removed more than 700 dogs from deplorable conditions. Horton was charged and convicted of 14 counts of animal cruelty in 2008, but was allowed to keep a maximum of 250 dogs. The conviction was appealed twice and was upheld both times.
  • November 2007: The HSUS released a five-month investigation of Virginia's underground puppy mill industry, including footage of "Horton's Pups," a large-scale, abusive puppy mill with more than 1,000 dogs. The mill was owned and operated by Lanzie "Junior" Horton in Hillsville, Va.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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