NEGLECTED PETS SOLD THROUGH WEB SITE

Relates to:
Date: 2008-05-22
Source: djournal.com

NEGLECTED PETS SOLD THROUGH WEB SITE

Adopt or help

The Tupelo-Lee Humane Society is asking anyone who wants to adopt or volunteer with the puppy mill cleanup to visit www.tupelo-leehumane.org for more information instead of calling the shelter. Phone lines have been swamped. The shelter is most in need of pet carriers either to be donated or loaned temporarily.

BY EMILY LE COZ
Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY - Many of the puppies and kittens born in the large-scale pet mill operation of Ramon and Janet Barreto were sold to unsuspecting families on the Internet.

As of Wednesday, it could not be confirmed that any animals were sold at area flea markets.

The tiny pets, now in the custody of the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, fetched anywhere from $50 to $1,000 through a number of online classified ads, including those at UsFreeads.com. That site alone included four dozen ads posted by Janet Barreto with captions like "how cute" and "so special."

Each ad features a photo of a puppy or kitten, usually held in the arms of what appears to be small children or a grown woman with curly black hair. In the descriptions, the animals are listed as healthy and registered as purebreds.

In reality, the kittens and pups were raised in filth - born to neglected animals crammed into tight, chicken-wire cages, which had been stacked in an enclosed area behind the Barreto's trailer south of New Albany.

The Barretos, of 824 County Road 87, were arrested earlier this week and face neglect charges in connection with the death of their 2-year-old adopted daughter, Enna. They also face animal cruelty charges from TLHS, and neglect charges could be heightened by police.

Many of the animals had been born atop piles of feces that had accumulated on the bottoms of their cages. Flies and other insects swarmed the pens.

The setting contradicts the statement appearing on the breeder's own Web page that reads "We give our animals lots of love and caring 24/7." That site, titled "Barreto's Luv-A-Puppy" claims to have 13 types of small dogs and boxer bulldogs available for sale.

'Registration' comes easy
As for the animals being registered, the ads say they are "CKC" registered. CKC stands for Continental Kennel Club, which some in the breeding community consider a scam registry because of its lack of on-site inspection and DNA testing.

All it takes to get purebred status from CKC is three photographs of the animal along with two witness signatures. Puppies born to previously CKC-certified animals automatically get registration, according to the club's Web site.

None of the puppies were sold at the Tupelo Flea Market, said spokeswoman Melissa Kelly.

"These people have never sold at our flea market. We've checked our records for the past 10 years, and they have never been here," Kelly said.

She did say, however, that the Tupelo market hosts 20-25 other dog vendors each month.

Although the market has guidelines about the pets' handling while at the event, it does not have the resources to inspect each vendor, Kelly said.

It's unclear if other flea markets has any of the Barretos' animals at their events. A woman who answered the phone for First Monday Trade Days in Ripley said pet vendors sell there, but she did not have a list of names.

Nobody could be reached at the 41 Flea Market in Wren.

Contact Daily Journal reporter Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

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