January 5, 2009
The State of Indiana has seized the assets of a dog breeding company, effectively shutting it down. The state acted on a tax issue, but Attorney General Steve Carter says state officials also raised serious questions about the animals' welfare, as well as other consumer issues.
Late last month the Indiana Attorney General's office, the Owen County Sheriff's office and the Indiana Department of Revenue (IDR) served Tammy Gilchrist, the owner of Kritter Haven, with a search warrant for business and tax records dating back to 1998. Gilchrist was also served a jeopardy assessment authorizing the state to immediately collect tax the Indiana Department of Revenue finds is in danger of being recovered if standard assessment and collection procedures are followed.
When she was unable to produce payment, Carter said Gilchrist was served with a jeopardy levy, enabling the state to seize her bank accounts and inventory of animals including 74 dogs and four horses.
Three veterinarians and 15 volunteers from the Humane Society of the United States and local animal care and rescue organizations were on site to assist with safe removal of the animals from Gilchrist's property. Many of the dogs were emaciated and suffered from obvious medical ailments such as open sores and severe skin conditions. One of the dogs had to be euthanized due to its poor condition. The other animals were placed with multiple humane organizations in throughout the state.
Judge Frank Nardi signed a temporary restraining order today, preventing Gilchrist, and Kritter Haven co-operator Julie Herrick, from continuing operation. A hearing will be held on January 12 to determine if the temporary order will become permanent.
In addition to the temporary restraining order, Gilchrist will also be served with a five-day notice from the Indiana Department of Revenue stating that her tax debt must be paid to the state by January 7 or her retail merchant license will be revoked.
"Our previous seizure of the animals effectively put her out of business," said Carter. "Judge Nardi's order puts the court's authority behind that action."
The Attorney General's office has received complaints about Gilchrist failing to deliver puppies offered for sale, misrepresenting the health or age of puppies, failing to deliver registration papers, failing to refund shipping fees, failing to obtain a kennel license and/or selling puppies with various viruses that died a few days after delivery.
Since October 2003, Gilchrist offered puppies of various breeds for sale to consumers through advertisements on various websites. She has conducted business as AKA Kennel, TEKS Kennel, Puppysrus and Affordable Pups, with a principal place of business in Owen County, located at 11231 Highway 231, Cloverdale, Indiana.