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May 26, 2010

The HSUS Praises Arkansas Authorities for Strong Punishment of Puppy Mill Owners

CLARKSVILLE, Ark. — The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, applauds 5th Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Bruce Wilson and Johnson County Sheriff Jim Dorney for their success at gaining an appropriate sentence in the convictions of Christine Yarrington and Lynn E. Burkett, owners of a Lamar, Ark. puppy mill, on animal cruelty charges. 

On May 25, Yarrington and Burkett were sentenced to five years of probation. The women were also ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and to receive psychological counseling, and they are barred from keeping animals in their possession. The women pled no contest to eight counts of aggravated animal cruelty last week. If Yarrington or Burkette violate their probation by keeping an animal, they will go directly to jail to serve their full term.

These charges stemmed from allegations that Yarrington and Burkett neglected dogs kept in their mass breeding operation. In October 2009, The HSUS worked with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department to rescue more than 100 dogs and several other animals from horrific conditions on their Lamar property. 

"We are grateful that Deputy Attorney Wilson and Sheriff Dorney treat animal cruelty as the crime it is. Authorities are serious about enforcing Arkansas' animal protection law, and this sends a message to other puppy mill operators out there that they won't get a free ride in our state," said Desiree Bender, Arkansas state director for The HSUS.

When rescuers entered the property last year, they found animals living in atrocious conditions. The dogs, mainly small breeds such as Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas, were being housed in cramped, filthy cages in trailers throughout the property. Responders found the dogs in conditions typical of puppy mills; many were emaciated and suffering from skin and eye infections, as well as other medical ailments. Some larger dogs were also being kept chained on the property with no protection from the elements. Cats and guinea pigs were also being kept in small cages. It is likely that many of these animals had never known life outside their cramped enclosures. The dogs were all medically treated at a temporary shelter and transported to the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C. for adoption.

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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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