November 8, 2012
Muncie, Indiana animal control officials raided Adopt A Lab Thursday afternoon and seized 63 dogs. The animals were found living in filthy conditions at the facility located in the 3500 block of South Walnut in Muncie.
Labrador retrievers, as well as other breeds, were removed from the property by animal control officers and shelter employees. Some pets appeared malnourished and ill as they were lifted into animal control trucks and taken to Muncie’s shelter for assessment.
Adopt A Lab is run by Lee and Patty Strayer who claim they are animal “rescuers”. Adopt A Lab’s website states that in the past eight years they have adopted out 7000 dogs.
Though many of the pets seized were large breeds, a page on the organization’s website shows photographs of “Morkie” (Maltese – Yorkie) puppies “for adoption”.
Muncie Animal Shelter Director Phil Peckinpaugh told media that the Strayer’s had signed papers relinquishing the dogs. In exchange for voluntarily surrendering the pets, officials agreed not to press any charges and to keep the media away.
Peckinpaugh said it’s often better to get the animals to safety. He admitted that officials didn’t expect to find the pets in the condition they were being kept in.
This is not the Strayer’s first run-in with animal welfare officials.
Muncie officials also raided the facility in August 2010 and found 100 dogs living in poor conditions, many housed in plastic travel crates. At that time, officials gave the owners a choice to transfer some of the animals out of the facility, and since they complied, no formal charges were ever filed.
There had also been multiple complaints from adopters and others over the years. A Better Business Bureau page cites three unresolved complaints. And, just last June, a Massachusetts couple says they adopted a Labrador retriever mix, but when they picked it up, the dog’s condition was poor.
“All you could see was skin and bones and some muscle that was there,” Jarrod Thompson said. “He smelled of urine and feces and had open sores.” He and his girlfriend filed a complaint with Muncie Animal Shelter. But investigators sided with the rescue. “Adopt A Lab is not the culprit here,” Muncie Animal Shelter Superintendent Phil Peckinpaugh was quoted as saying at that time. An internet search turned up other complaints about Adopt A Lab.
Those interested in helping the seized dogs may do so by calling the Muncie Animal Shelter at (765) 747-4851 Once the dogs’ health has been assessed, they will likely be available for rescue or adoption.
Writers note: Adopt A Lab’s website states that dogs are also housed in foster homes. Can the public be assured that those pets are safe? And, a bigger question: If Lee and Patty Strayer get just a “slap on the hand” each time they are caught , will they ever stop neglecting pets ?