OXFORD (CBS) – It’s been nearly two years since the I-Team first uncovered issues with conditions at Laughlin Kennel in Oxford. Customers complained the dogs they bought were sick, and a former employee told us the animals were crammed in cages that were too small.
In the last several months, the kennel’s owners have been fined thousands of dollars for a number violations at the facility.
Inspectors found puppies stacked in cages that were too small. One report described cages with no water on a day when the temperature inside the kennel was 86 degrees.
When the I-Team went to talk to Kennel owner Robert Fink, he denied selling sick dogs and told us all of the violations have been corrected.
Fink refused to let our cameras into the basement where the dogs are kept, but he did allow WBZ-TV’s chief investigative reporter Cheryl Fiandaca to take a look.
She saw conditions similar to those described by state inspectors.
Laughlin had about 100 caged puppies in small rooms. Some of the cages were dirty and none had bedding. A worker was cleaning one of the rooms where a note on the door read “Washed October 9.” We were there on November 1.
We saw dozens of dogs in a quarantine room and Fink admitted that more than 30 of the dogs were sick at the time of our visit. But he told us that he does not sell any of the sick puppies until they are well.
Our visit to Laughlin came after the I-Team uncovered dozens of complaints made to the State Department of Agriculture resources, many from customers who say they bought sick dogs and spent thousands on vet bills. Some say their dogs died.
Katelyn Richard is one of those customers. She says Laughlin sold her a dog with pneumonia and within days of taking Cali home the King Charles Cavalier was critically ill. The dog spent weeks fighting for her life including several days hospitalized in a special tent to treat her lungs.
Laughlin offered to take the dog back and refund Katelyn’s money, but she refused and now plans to sue the kennel.
Back in 2016, the I-Team interviewed a former employee who showed us video of a mastiff with a severely deformed leg that he claimed was the result of being kept in a cage half his size.
We wanted to ask the Department of Agricultural Resources why it has taken them years to take any action against the kennel, but they refused our request for an interview.
In a statement a spokesperson said the department “has routinely inspected Laughlin … investigated all complaints and taken disciplinary action when violations were found.”
This year the Humane Society of America named Laughlin one of the Horrible Hundred Puppy Dealers and government records show Laughlin bought dogs from puppy mills.
We asked if Fink thought the conditions in the basement where he keeps the dogs are humane. He said yes and that they will go to good homes. He went on to tell us it’s a good business.
Laughlin is appealing the state fines and has a hearing in January. The kennel is also fighting the town of Oxford after receiving a cease and desist order for running a commercial business in a residential neighborhood. That too is under appeal.