Puppy Buyers Ask Why Maine Animal Welfare Program Did Not Act When Concerns Raised

Two Maine women are questioning why the Animal Welfare Program, a state agency within the Maine Department of Agriculture, did not quickly act when they brought up concerns about a facility run by a Somerville woman.

The Animal Welfare Program stated that they didn’t have enough evidence to search the alleged “puppy mill” until a month ago.

Fern Clark was charged with five counts of aggravated animal cruelty on January 30. Her home was raided by animal welfare officials after the arrest of a Massachusetts woman in New Hampshire.

Amy Moolic of Dracut, Mass., was arrested after she was discovered to have 22 dogs — two of them dead — in her vehicle. Moolic told police she had saved 10 of the animals from a puppy mill in Somerville owned by Clark.

Jessica Andrews and Linda Moody both filed complaints with the state in 2005 when they went inside of Clark’s home and saw the horrible conditions that the animals were in.

Animal Welfare Program Director Norma Worley said even though there were complaints against Clark, the agency lacked physical proof of neglect and abuse. In addition, since Clark did not hold a state license at the time of the complaints, state officials were legally barred from entering the home.

“We just can’t go around banging down people’s doors,” Worley said. “We can’t use hearsay, and that’s about 90 percent of what we were getting.”

Andrews, who went to Clark’s to potentially buy a puppy, said, “My mother and I arrived at her house and were only allowed in the basement, where we saw dog feces and heard a man upstairs hollering loudly at the dogs to stop barking.”

Even though there have been at least seven formal complaints against Clark since 2002, Worley added, “We need people who have been inside (Clark’s house) to talk to us. Because these people didn’t go upstairs and physically see it, we couldn’t do anything.”

She stated, “We haven’t ignored any cases, but we need evidence these things are happening. We cannot break down someone’s door.”

But with Moolic’s arrest, this gave state officials the proof that there was a recent transaction between Moolic and Clark regarding the animals.

In her defense, Clark stated to the judge, “I never hurt my dogs. I never meant to hurt my dogs, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.”

Source: Portland Press Herald

(Thanks Sue)

14 Responses to “Puppy Buyers Ask Why Maine Animal Welfare Program Did Not Act When Concerns Raised”

  1. catmom5 says:

    With that much concern, seems like they could have sent someone to buy a dog from the woman to gather evidence. Those poor dogs . . .

  2. Nora and Rufus says:

    Why in the world would these TWO women’s eye witness testimony not be enough “evidence” to search this puppy mill? Those Maine officials should be ashamed. For God’s sake, the complaint was 3 years ago. Just imagaine how many dogs suffered and died in that time!!!!!! SICKENING and SHAMEFUL! That is the Officials NEGLIGENCE.

  3. Sharon says:

    Seven complaints were not enough? Didn’t hold a state license so couldn’t investigate? Why didn’t they investigate the fact that she was engaging in commerce without one? What a buncha idiots. I have no respect for elected officials. I hope Animal Welfare Program Director Norma Worley loses her fricking job! She sure has not been doing it! Exactly whose welfare is she in charge of protecting? the obviously mentally ill women who has been torturing and killing dogs for years?

  4. Linda's Cats says:

    Hello guys, it’s one of the draw back to living in a country that protects her citizens’ rights. Heresay is almost never enough evidence for a police action to occur, save allegations of child abuse and maybe spousal abuse. You need first hand evidence and generally need it by credible witnesses.

    It’s sad, of course, but the alternative is worse. That cops can just come into your home or onto your land any time some tom dick or harry says “Nora doesn’t treat her dogs well”.

  5. nancy freedman-smith says:

    Norma Worley and the state of Maine have shut down three puppy mills since August. As someone mentioned, you can’t just waltz into someone’s home. If you read the story you will see that the neighbors never ever even saw any dogs over there. In this case it appears to be more of a case of hoarding. The dogs were former breeding dogs who were old and neglected. Very sad. I commend the state of Maine for taking action in these three abuse cases. The state needs to be VERY careful about dotting all i’s and crossing all t’s. It has been a very expensive venture for the state. One that required leasing a huge warehouse and converting it into a temporary shelter for all the dogs. There are more of people in the this state who think that Norma has overstepped her bounds and should be stopped than those who think she didn’t act quick enough. I think she is doing a great job.

    Nancy Freedman-Smtih

  6. Nora and Rufus says:

    In response to “Linda’s Cats” comment. Nora’s 3 Aussie dogs sleep on a clean queen sized bed with their owner everynight and they stretch out on a soft clean beige carpet every night and watch TV in the living room with their owner (after all, they are also bathed and trimmed and groomed monthly by their owner) and they enjoy every day cooked chicken breasts w cooked baby carrots and hard boiled eggs mixed with their daily portion of EVO dry dog food. They are very tired after their daily 1-2 hour runs at the acres large dog park that is 5 minutes away. I DARE anyone to say they are not treated well. I WELCOME any officials who would want to check out the above mentioned conditions.

  7. Linda's Cats says:

    I’m sure Nora, you treat your dogs great. but you have address on other sites, that you have concerns when animal welfare people come into a situation and take a dog that is *not* negelected. or a dog that the owner feels shoudl die in his care, and not left in some cage cause the animal control officers think that the dog “isn’t cared for”, even when the owner has papers showing the dog is getting vet care and “hospice” type care.

    The point is, you need to be careful (we all should agree) when you accuse someone to insure that it truly is animal abuse. we’ve seen on these news stories how often animal control is “out of control”.

    Personally, I love the laws of this land, and understand that for us to have the ideas of “innocent till proven guilty”, and right to privacy, and rights to warrant for search of our homes - sometimes it does mean bad guys get away with it.

  8. Nora and Rufus says:

    BACK OFF STALKER!

  9. kaefamily says:

    Hilarious bickering :-P

  10. Athena says:

    I applaud the shut-down of the three puppy mills…that is wonderful news! However, when people report someone for animal abuse, it seems to me that ANIMAL WELFARE needs to check it out. They say they need more evidence…are we supposed to go into the person’s home and take pictures, essentially doing the job for Animal Welfare? They say they can’t just go around breaking down people’s doors…maybe just knocking would be a good start. If entry is refused, then there’s probably a good reason why. Animal Welfare can’t use hearsay…SOMEONE has to report the abuse and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be the abuser. What I really don’t understand is the fact that state law prohibits state officials from entering the home because there was no license…what? Abuse is abuse, license or not…
    I just think these animals suffered needlessly because Animal Welfare let this go on for far too long.

  11. Denise says:

    I agree with Athena and most of the other views on here. They needed to shut those people down.

  12. Velvet's Dad says:

    “Back off stalker”? Gee, I hope that was said in jest, for Linda was only trying to point out that the laws protect all of us. Our system of justice is predicated on the principle that before the law the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, thereby putting the burden of proof on the accuser.

    Can anyone honestly say they would want to live in a society where the reverse is true: presumption of guilt until you prove your innocence? That is one aspect of a police state.

    Our system underscores why the accuser must get the facts before proceeding. Due process and fairness can only exist where there is presumption of innocence. Otherwise, we’d return to the era of the Salem Witch trials and all would be at risk.

  13. Don Earl says:

    RE: “We can’t use hearsay, and that’s about 90 percent of what we were getting”

    Beg pardon, but an eyewitness account is NOT hearsay. That should be enough for a warrant, or at least it would be for any other kind of crime. Since a judge has to decide to issue the warrant in the first place, it’s really up to the judge to decide if there’s probable cause or not. If they asked for the warrant and were turned down, that’s one thing, but if they didn’t ask, that’s something else.

    If they’re busting down doors on their own intitiative, without a warrant, that’s another deal entirely.

  14. sandi says:

    I am 61 grew up in Somerville, Massachusettsat one time it was hard working families, many LEGAL immigrants, now it is a sancutary City. Yup high crime rate, many that are on welfare are breeding the so called yuppie designer dogs. We are seeing the same thing here in Fall River, New Bedford, where the low lifes live.

    Does not surprise me

    Sandi

    aka ancona


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