By the time Kankakee County Animal Control and Adoption Center raided an alleged puppy mill in St. Anne in April the facility had passed years of state inspections, and allegations of animal abuse had never been proven.
Animal control received complaints against the facility, but the county lacked an ordinance specifying how breeders are supposed to keep cats and dogs in what it considered the most humane way. That's why the Kankakee County Board on Tuesday amended the ordinance to include 40 new requirements ranging from the height of enclosures to the appropriate temperatures for housing them.
"It was all because of that issue out there in that puppy mill," said Stan James, the county board member who chairs the community services committee. "We found out we didn't have a lot of things in place to close it down."
To date, the Kankakee County State's Attorneys office has yet to file charges against the owner, Louise Gutierrez. She operated Adrian's Puppy Paradise on Illinois Route 1 and signed away 81 puppies after Animal Control received a search warrant to raid the facility.
While the state's attorney's office has said charges are coming, a review of inspection records from the Illinois Department of Agriculture obtained by The Daily Journal showed that Adrian's Puppy Paradise never once failed an inspection, and that accusations of animal abuse never were confirmed.
The state agency, which licenses and regulates dog kennels, conducted 32 regular inspections between May 2002 and December 2014 and seven inspections between February 2009 and June 2014 after receiving formal complaints.
Each time, inspectors determined the living conditions were satisfactory. Their only consistent complaint was that Gutierrez failed to keep good records on all the puppies. They fined her several times.
A statement released by Animal Rescue Corp., a national advocacy group that helped conduct the raid, said the animals were found crowded into small pens with plastic wire flooring and exposed to extremely high levels of ammonia. The dogs allegedly were suffering from untreated and painful eye infections, respiratory conditions and dental issues.
One of the new requirements — which was not in place at the time of the raid — are restrictions against housing the animals in pens with wire flooring. That can damage an animal's feet but makes it much easier to clean the urine and feces.
James said area veterinarians were integral in crafting the health and safety requirements. Breeders did not seek input in the ordinance.
Anyone who owns at least three adult, breedable cats or dogs — male or female — would be required to obtain a breeder's license from animal control.
Fines for violations were increased with minimum fines jumping to $100 from $25 for a first offense and a minimum $200 for a second offense. If a breeder violates the ordinance three times, they could be prohibited from owning, possessing or harboring cats or dogs for three years.
Rather than a one-time registration, breeders will be required to obtain a license annually costing between $50 and $1,000, depending on the number of animals. James said the fines and fees are meant to cover the costs of enforcing the ordinance.