Wednesday, September 21, 2011

225 Dogs Found At Clewiston Puppy Mill

Authorities Claim "Borderline" Hoarding/Puppy Mill Situation

CLEWISTON, FL. -- LaBelle Animal Control helped Tuesday to remove hundreds of dogs from a South Palm Street address in rural Hendry county.

Allen Pickles, LaBelle's animal control officer, says no charges are pending against the owner, while "no-kill" animal shelters in Broward, Palm Beach, Collier and Lee counties help take the majority of the dogs.

Complaints were coming in about Isabelle Ripoll Cruz who was taking in stray dogs and reportedly advertising as a breeder in Miami pet shops. Observers say some of the dogs were not in good shape when the owner offered to sell some of the dogs to prospective purchasers.

Animal welfare officials said no charges were to be made because the woman cooperated in relocating the animals from the rented 1.5 acre Montura Ranch Estates location at 545 S. Palm St. in rural central Hendry county, southwest of the city of Clewiston.

The owner was reportedly allowed to keep some of the older and sick dogs. The facility has been in business for over five years. Volunteers helped clean the pens and feed the dogs.

The situation at the site had been described as a "borderline" hoarding/puppy mill, with dogs reportedly sold to Miami area pet shops.

Update: Isabella and Jesus Cruz kept 12 of the dogs at their property. Clewiston Critter Care Animal Clinic, according to Allen Pickles, took 57 to their Clewiston facility and is helping the Cruz' nurse to health as needed the dogs at the Cruz' residence. The Cruz' had no business license and may be in violation of the law if pets were sold.

Suzanne M. Bonnell of the Clewiston Critter Care reports the dogs they accepted are well maintained, happy and very adoptable pets. All were microchipped, spayed or neutered and heartworm tested with negative results on Thursday, September 22 and they are available for adoption, she reports. 

Bonnell said, "We have a set fee for all dogs/puppies which is $300. This includes the pets first years vaccinations and worming, spay / neuter, flea/tick prevention, heartworm test, first month's heartworm prevention, nationally registered microchip, 30 to 45 days of health insurance, reduced fee's for adopted pets for boarding or our doggy daycare and heartworm prevention."

Bonnell reports three dogs have been adopted as of Friday, September 23. The Animal Care Society, Inc. (dba Clewiston Critter Care Animal Clinic) can be reached at (863) 983-9145.

(Video: courtesy WPTV)


  1. Anonymous8:55 AM

    The dogs were said to be in good condition, healthy fat, clean and well sheltered. Why would you say that there were sickly dogs and that the workers had to help clean anything?

  2. Anonymous11:27 PM

    Because when there are 225 of anything, some of them will be sick. Cleaning? There are 225 animals - there is going to be lots and lots of cleaning.

  3. Anonymous12:19 PM

    As long as it is legal to breed dogs in the state of Florida people who enjoy dogs will continue to breed them. It is my opinion this facility was targeted specifically because they create competition for breeders who ship dogs from out of state to Palm Beach Pet stores for much higher fees. The reports stated these dogs were well fed and cared for. The fact that they weren't in air conditioning is not an issue as long as they had water. What about homeless people? Why don't people stand up for them as they do for dogs?

  4. Anonymous1:02 PM

    The Dogs lived in cramped quarters, they were matted with feces and mud, they were covered in fleas and had mange!! They had dirty water and little food. This lady, Isabella, was selling them as pure breds, healthy thru Pet shop websites...
    'I know this as a fact cause I was the one that turned her in , cause I went there , invited, to look at a german shapard puppy and what I saw made me sick!! I was in the military and beleive me I wanted to put this lady in the cage with these dogs and let her feel what they were feeling...Her property was a PIG STY!!
    Anybody want to defend her ..come talk to me, I will tell you the truth!! I saw it 2 weeks ago when all this began, This lady, Isabella, should be put in jail!!

  5. Anonymous1:04 PM

    OH..and I am not a breeder , I was looking for a birthday present for someone who loves dogs and I found a DUMP!!!!!

  6. Anonymous2:38 PM

    Who cares what condition they were found in, I don't care if she was cooking five course meals for them... at least this was stopped before it got any more out of control than it already was. The reason there are animal shelters and dogs being euthanized across the country is BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE THIS BREEDING DOGS.

  7. Anonymous3:21 PM

    Did you not hear the COUNTY OFFICIAL: "She's just got way too big of a heart," he continued, "Every animal she has -- and there's 200 plus on the property -- are in very good care, healthy and fat. They all have food, water, shelter. The whole nine yards. It's just she had way too many, way too quick." You don't see these kinds of words from officials when they are at a REAL puppy mill.

  8. Anonymous3:31 PM

    WOW! I didn't know you could fix mange, matted hair (with feces and mud none the less), fleas, cramped quarters, and under feed dogs all in a span of 2 weeks. Especially when 200+ animals are involved. That Isabella must be a Super Vet / Cleaning lady? Someone doesn't know how to lie very well!

  9. Anonymous8:56 AM

    seems that this was a set up...

  10. Anonymous8:57 AM

    I would LOVE to see the 200+ health certificates she should have had for EACH dog in there. Because if you sell dogs in this state, it's illegal if they don't have a HEALTH CERTIFICATE.

  11. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Four million cats and dogs—about one every eight seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year.

    Basically, by breeding and selling those dogs, she's killing dogs.

  12. Anonymous9:56 PM

    I guess in 2 weeks time they really got the place cleaned up for authorities to report the animals were in good condition. I wonder why someone looking for a 'birthday present' ended up on a puppy farm when there are so many reputable breeders on the internet and pet shops throughout the South Florida area? I agree that they were targeted and maybe they weren't in full compliance with required health cerificates or a business license, but, if the authorities decided not to press charges there's a reason for that.

  13. Anonymous7:19 AM

    You bet there's a reason.....I wonder what happened the day the woman went to look at the puppy, maybe she wanted a cheap pup and the owner didn't want to lower her price to her liking, maybe she is just a low class 'want something for nothing' type and didn't get her way so she decided to be a liar instead and the animal control guy just took her lies for truth and went out there with all those people and scared the crap out of the owner with threats of giving her tickets or jail time......maybe the owner should get an attorney and sue! Maybe, just maybe.........I bet this story isn't over just yet......

    And about those HEALTH CERTIFICATES....they don't have to have health certificates on the dogs they aren't selling.....

    I can only imagine that there may be a job opening up in that county pretty soon.....