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Posted on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

44 animals seized from Webster Township home following anonymous tip

By Amalie Nash


Numerous Whippet puppies will soon be available for adoption.

Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Huron Valley

Investigators seized 36 dogs, six exotic birds and two cats from a home just outside Dexter Thursday evening - pushing the Humane Society of Huron Valley's shelter over its capacity, officials announced today.

Humane Society animal cruelty investigators went to the Webster Township home based on an anonymous tip about five dogs left with no food and water, a news release said.

Investigators discovered 44 animals living in "horrendous conditions," the release said.


Numerous adult Whippets were taken from the Webster Township home.

Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Huron Valley

Humane Society Executive Director Tanya Hilgendorf said the animals were living among filth and feces in the home with two adults.

"This was no place you want an animal or a person living in," she said.

Matt Schaecher, lead cruelty investigator, said in a news release that investigators plan to seek animal cruelty charges and believe the family was illegally breeding the dogs for profit.

"But our investigation is still under way at this time," he said.

The dogs included 31 Whippets of different ages - including many puppies, four Italian Greyhounds, and a Skye Terrier. All the animals are at the Humane Society, where they will undergo health evaluations and be prepared for adoption.

Hilgendorf said the owners, who were present when investigators arrived Thursday, voluntarily signed over their rights to the animals.


This Skye Terrier also will be available for adoption.

Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Huron Valley

Hilgendorf said the seizure of so many pets came at a time when the shelter is already beyond capacity with dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. She said the shelter is teeming with cats and just received additional dogs through a program the Humane Society participates in to rescue dogs slated to be euthanized in another state.

"Not only is summer 'kitten season,' but it's also peak time when people start moving and leaving their pets behind," she said. "Having enough space and people power to take care of these is an enormous stretch for us right now."

The Humane Society shelter is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. for adoptions. The seized dogs will likely be put up for adoption this weekend and early next week.

"They're really adorable and good family pets," Hilgendorf said. "They'll need a little extra TLC because Whippets can be sensitive and shy, and most of these dogs aren't trained to walk on leashes and haven't had the normal interaction with people. They're sweethearts and barely make a noise, but they'll need owners who are patient with them."

Information about these dogs and all the pets up for adoption can be found at


Ana Von

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 : 5:48 a.m.

Oh, my God! I am in total shock! My pup came from this monster! Now I understand why she came to us so afraid of people, so traumatized! It was extremely strange. He said she was timid, but she is in fact traumatized. I always felt confused never really understood why she was so afraid. She even had seizures out of stress! Oh God! What a monster. Since she came to us, we have been training her for fear with a professional very sweet trainer, and been giving her all the love possible. Here with us she is happy and healthy. Treated as a princess (her and her sister, another girl whippet we have), as she always deserved to be treated. I have all the emails exchanged with this monster, all the information, please let me help with the case!


Tue, Jun 22, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

We rescued two whippets through the National Whippet Rescue. Both are GREAT dogs. They are wonderful with our kids, very low maintenance, and easy to train. They like to have a walk each day; not long, just enough to get out and sniff the outside. Aside from that, they like to lounge about the house. They are an extremely loyal breed. The rescue league people were wonderful!


Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

Oh my goodness. I just got a sinking feeling in my stomach when I read this story. I found one of their whippets running loose on Joy Road once and returned it to its house (after calling the number on its tag). At the time, I remember being concerned about the situation, because the owner didn't seem that thankful to have his dog back (he just grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and put it back inside the fence) - and also, because I could hear lots of other dogs in the yard, just milling about. In retrospect, I should have called the HSHV right then and there. I feel so bad that I didn't. Thank goodness for the HSHV - thank you all for your hard work.

Deb Kern

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

In reply to Votekeeper's post: HSHVs contract with Washtenaw County pays strictly for the temporary holding/temporary housing of stray animals. Washtenaw County did give $1 million dollars to help pay for our new $8.5 million facility. The $6.5 million bonds are being paid back, 100%, by funds raised from HSHV supporters Both the $500,000 for operations and the $1 million are paid to us instead of the county running its own animal control facility for stray animals. Services that would cost the County at least twice as much if they offered them on their own. This relationship is a win/win. The County saves money and the community gets an organization with the skill and the dedication needed to take great care of, and save homeless animals. Our County contract only makes up about 13% of our operating budget. HSHV provides much much more to the community beyond stray holding in order to help animals in our community. Our list of services can be seen on our website at Our donors pay for the rest of these vital services, even those that probably should be paid for by the government, including animal cruelty investigations. It is exactly our desire to shut down puppy mills -- keeping people out of pet stores and driving up the demand for puppy mills--that drives us to bring in adoptable puppies from the south. That, and the goal to save perfectly adoptable puppies from certain death. Nobody pays us for taking puppies slated for euthanasia and County funds are not used for this program.


Sun, Jun 20, 2010 : 6:23 p.m.

@Jan: "Maybe someone can comment what the law says about "illegally breeding the dogs for profit." I understand the animal cruelty charges given the deplorable conditions the animals were kept. Seems like a strange law to me. Is there a limit on the number of dogs that I can keep in Webster Township (I'm sure its less than 44 here in A2)? As far as selling pedigreed dogs, that would seem to be a civil issue between the owner and the breeding association. Then again, I can't cut hair in my basement for profit without the necessary licenses and permits." Ypsicat's hooman in: IMHO there should be licenses and permits required to reproduce animals in these times. There is no market and the ones who suffer are the babies who didn't ask to be born. hmph


Sun, Jun 20, 2010 : 4:12 p.m.

So sad to see another one of these animal hoarders within our midst; makes me wonder how many other animals are in series trouble?


Sun, Jun 20, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

Amalie, please follow up on this story and ask why the Humane Society is taking animals from other states rather than prioritizing and planning their space for Washtenaw County animals. Washtenaw taxpayers kick in $500,000 (yes, half a million bucks) a year for their services. We also kicked in $1 million to build the new facility and pledged our full faith and credit for a $6.5 million construction bond. When this kind of puppy mill disaster is discovered in our county, there should be capacity! How are these animals from other states being paid for? Is HSHV double dipping?


Sun, Jun 20, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Does anyone know what species of birds were seized? and where they are now?

Pam Sordyl

Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 5:43 p.m.

Puppy Mill Awareness will be adding this case to the growing list of kennel raids in Michigan. Great work Huron Valley! Although Whippets are usually seen more in the show world, something is obviously very suspect about this place. I have not come across any whippets being sold at local pet stores and very few Whippet breeders have been reported to PetShopPuppies who tracks sick dog cases reported from pet stores. It will be interesting to find out if he was selling online. Remember, you do not need to have a license to sell online (loop hole).

Ana Von

Mon, Apr 11, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

He was selling online at


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

I was very happy to see that HSHV is not transferring the animals to the rescue group. I was disappointed to see the negative comments from what appears to be a representative of the rescue group. It sounds like this rescue group was being a little selfish and just wanted all the Whippets for themselves. Whippets are not that common and it would have been like winning the jackpot for the rescue group to score a litter of purebred Whippet puppies.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

gee maybe everyone should either adopt a pet from the shelter or get one from a REPUTABLE breeder who actually cares about preserving the health and well being of the breed to stop supporting and enouraging these types of situations to persist. i dunno, just a thought...


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

Sounds like Kate would like her pick of the litter! Also, think about how many people will come and see/adopt other animals while they go and look at the Whippets. They look like amazing dogs, and Huron Valley will do an amazing job with ALL of their animals.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

Kate, HSHV is not having to turn away other dogs. Their mission is to care for the animals in this area, and they do an exemplary job of it. Potential adopters are already calling and showing up to adopt. They do work with rescues when needed but so far things are working out. Please revisit their Facebook page to see their response to your post. They have a very strong volunteer base and dedicated staff who are doing a wonderful job caring for these and other animals in need.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 1:43 p.m.

Why is a shelter that is "beyond capacity" turning away help? In this article the shelter is quoted saying "Having enough space and people power to take care of these is an enormous stretch for us right now." If another group has the room and resources to take these dogs, why are they not freeing space for other dogs in need? This shelter is the only open admission shelter in the county and they are NOT a no-kill facility. By refusing help from a rescue group, they are taking up space that could be used for over 30 other dogs! If any of you are considering adopting a whippet from the shelter, PLEASE do your research first. Whippets are wonderful dogs, but whippet puppies are very headstrong. Whippets also have very specific medical needs that are very different from other breeds. Make sure you do your research first, and find a vet in your are that has experience with the breed BEFORE you adopt!

Me Next

Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

What Law prevents charging the owners with expense of shelter care while at the same time adopting as many out as citizens will. What Law prevents Public Service of these people donating time if not 3 times a day - everyday to not just care for these but all the animals. Back to accountability - not just Public Servants doing favors for Offenders. I hope this Public Shelter has not surrendered to the Tax Waste of "chip implantation"; if it has - Citizens' should have a right to VOTE NO & stop this nonsense - Ponzi scheme. If Private sector wants to spend that money - Hey This IS AMERICA - but this is Gov. growth just to steal & favor some. "Fixing" every animal that must be Publicly Sheltered is Good Sense. Let's be adults. Animals that have been adopted & stand no chance of having to be put down (would make it waste unless a University could be persuaded to trade service for student experience). Giving shots at entrance is HEALTH for animal & human alike. Good Sense.

Kelly Schwartz

Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

HSHV will not be transferring these animals to rescue at this time. We do work with rescues when needed and have been in contact with several of them. We do have some of the male puppies ready for adoption now. Our staff will be continuing to spay/neuter and temperment test the puppies & dogs so they can be placed for adoption starting Tuesday, June 22nd. You can visit our shelter 7 days a week from noon-6pm. We have many, many great dogs, puppies, cats & kittens looking for their forever home - so come on out and support us by adopting a new family member.

Rod Johnson

Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

JGS, look up "Potts Drive, Dexter, MI" on Google Maps and look at the satellite view. There's only a handful of houses on that street, and it's pretty obvious which one is not like the others.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 9:49 a.m.

To JGS and Rod J.....It would be wise to tread softly it's a PRIVATE road....if you know what I mean.

Rod Johnson

Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 9:42 a.m.

JGS, look up "Potts Drive, Dexter, MI" on Google Maps and look at the satellite view. There's only a handful of houses on that street, and it's pretty obvious which one is not like the others.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

I just visited the HSHV Facebook page and it looks like the Whippet Rescue and Placement group is saying that they will take all of the Whippets. According to the Whippet Rescue website, they ask for a $400 donation to adopt a dog under 1 year old and a $300 donation to adopt a dog over 1 year old. I would have loved to have adopted a Whippet from HSHV.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

The conditions at this address on Potts Drive have been an on going concern for over 25 years. Including two house fires, one of which promped State Police Drug Enforcement to be called in. Several complaints have been made to the Webster Township Board, with documentation as far back as 1991 through 2005. As evidenced by the recent events that no effective action has been taken. It's obvious that people with the power to get something done really don't care. I'm sure the structure is ready for the "wrecking ball". thank you anonymous for joining the battle.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 8:17 a.m.

Maybe someone can comment what the law says about "illegally breeding the dogs for profit." I understand the animal cruelty charges given the deplorable conditions the animals were kept. Seems like a strange law to me. Is there a limit on the number of dogs that I can keep in Webster Township (I'm sure its less than 44 here in A2)? As far as selling pedigreed dogs, that would seem to be a civil issue between the owner and the breeding association. Then again, I can't cut hair in my basement for profit without the necessary licenses and permits.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

Is there any way to find out the exact location or at least a street address of this place. I'm sure I can use the freedom of information act to gain more details, but I'm not going through that hassle. I figured might give details of the location, but alas I was wrong.


Sat, Jun 19, 2010 : 7:04 a.m.

I had to create an account so I could comment on this story. I've owned whippets my whole life and have found them to be the most affectionate, loving breed of dogs. I'm almost positive that I purchased a dog from this person in Dexter. When I went into his home there was one bag of dog food that he put on the floor and only the most aggressive dogs ate. I purchased my whippet from him and she had some bad behaviors such as taking food off of counter and being aggressive trying to get food but, that was how she was raised as a puppy. It took only a few short months and she learned what was right and wrong. Whippets want to plese their owners and will do whatever it takes to acheive that. To the person who said that a neighbor probably called in because of the noise these dogs make well, my whippet never barks and my past whippets haven't barked neither. They are the kindest dogs and anyone who adopts one of them will find a furry friend for life. Please help these little furs out and give them a home! The only thing you need is a huge heart and a blanket because they LOVE to sleep under a blanket. Thank you SO MUCH Huron Valley Humane Society for all that you do and for helping these furs!!!!!


Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 11:41 p.m.

In general Washtenaw County is a good area for pet adoptions. The Humane Society of Huron Valley has in the past been able to take animals from other shelters in the region. My family adopted a dog from HSHV that had been in the Hillsdale county shelter for two months. That was 6 years ago, and the dog has been great. Last Fall the HSHV finished construction on a new shelter facility. The new place allows them to keep more animals healthier, and is much more pleasant for visitors. Since they opened the shelter their adoption rate is even higher than it was. Please consider donating to this local organization. They are still finishing their capital campaign, and have a $100,000 matching grant from the Matthaei family, so your donation will bring double the money.


Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

The Whippets that I am familiar with are family dogs with great dispositions. Yes, they can be trained to be competitive (not agressive) as most dogs can. The two that belong to the family that I have known personally never make a peep unless someone is at the door.


Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 4:25 p.m.

Poor goggies, hope they all find great homes (but not in my, Ypsicat's, home).

Marshall Applewhite

Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

I'm sure the anonymous tip came from a neighbor who was tired of the noise these dogs create. They are quite possibly the most obnoxious breed of canine.


Fri, Jun 18, 2010 : 3:58 p.m.

Thank goodness for the Humane Society. Difficult to believe that anyone would have that many animals in such poor condition in our locale. I am also thankful for the person(s) that disclosed this situation. Whippets are wonderful bonded (velcro) dogs who are loyal and loving.