A horrible tale from the news regarded pet shop ownners in Dixon, California. Christopher Derek Ellis, 29, and Leeanna Rachelle Kamp, 30, were arrested in December of 2009 and charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals.
They were denied bail because the cash they wanted to put up was from their criminal activities. Passersby who never even entered the petshop said, "Just the stench from that place was enough to make you sick."
They were arrested only after multiple reports of selling exceedingly expensive on-death's-door dogs with pneumonia and parvovirus and other critical problems. Conditions were found to be horrifying. Many of the dogs were caked in fecal matter, underfed, and their water was filthy. They operated a puppymill at a second location in Lumis, which had also gained neighborhood complaints for sewage smells.
Soon the Humane Animal Services and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals confiscated 90 dogs -- chihuahuas, maltese, shih tzus, yorkies, and shiba inus. Seventy-five of these were sick with various diseases requiring immediate quarentine and medical attention.
When this hit the evening news, dozens of people began to come forward eager to share their experience, including an entire family that was infected with ringworms thanks to having purchased a dog from these monstrous vendors.
Ellis and Kamp refused to take any responsibility for the condition of the animals they sold, speaking to the press in shockingly callous terms as if it never even occurred to them that mere dogs should be cared for properly. Kamp was indignant to the press, in court, at every opportunity, claiming to have taken great care of the animals, even denying the dead dogs were dead.
They were initially charged with criminal conspiracy, grand theft, child endangerment, and operating an illegal on-line puppy lottery. Fear of a lengthy jail term convinced the malicious couple to plea no contest to one felony count of animal cruelty. "No contest" meant that afterward they could continue with their bizarre self-righteous denials of guilt.
Superior Court Judge Peter B. Foor said he found the case disturbing. "They treated these animals as some kind of inanimate objects. We're basically dealing with indifference. This was all about money. They had very little regard that they were dealing with live animals."
In April 2010 their case concluded with a small fine, brief jail time, and four years probation. That isn't much of a criminal punishment, though perhaps during their community service picking up garbage on a roadside a semi-truck will plow into them.
They're also supposed to pay nearly $70,000 restitution to ripped off customers, though one doubts they'll ever manage that. Ellis may also be deported, since he's a Canadian citizen. Meanwhile, between December and April, eighty-five of the ninety rescues were placed in good homes by the SPCA.