Sheriff to pursue ordinance to help curtail illegal breeding
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
ARGYLE – A seizure of animals several weeks ago from a home in Argyle has resulted in the arrest of an Argyle couple running illegal breeding out of the home.
Deputies arrested David and Gina Sams Tuesday and charged them with seven counts of animal neglect. They were taken to Lee County Jail and are being held on $1,000 cash only bonds.
Weber said the charges stem from seven poorly cared-for animals that were in the home when 40 dogs were taken by the Animal Rescue League of Iowa on Feb. 23. As a result of that investigation, the Sams were instructed to clean up and organize the property and to begin to reduce the amount of animals on the property to assure proper care. The animals at that time were also examined by a licensed veterinarian.
Staff from the league were back on scene Tuesday loading animals up to be taken to the rescue.
Weber said the investigation has lead him to believe that the county needs to work up an ordinance to address what he called “black market” breeders. He said charges for crimes in this area are based on state statute and punishment isn’t strong enough to deter the conditions.
“We often wait for the state on these types of issues. But the state code is very weak and we don’t have anything locally,” he said.
“There’s just too much money in this and people just take the risk and continue to do it unchecked.”
Weber said he’s spoken with Lee County Attorney Ross Braden about the situation. He also wants to speak with legitimate breeders in the area to get their input on the situation.
“I want to talk with the lawful breeders in our county. I want to sit with them and pick their brains about this. These black market breeders become competition and the legit breeders abide by the law.
“Americans – we sometimes cut our own throats by wanting the cheapest stuff and this is what we get. People raising animals in their living room.”
He said the arrests will gain the attention of those that are breeding illegally.
According to a release from the sheriff’s department Tuesday afternoon, deputies conducted a second search on the property Tuesday to assure the welfare of the animals was being protected per previous discussions with the Sams.
The remaining animals were then surrendered cooperatively by the Sams. Those included dogs, cats, goats, horses, donkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, a peacock, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, a hedgehog, lizards and a chinchilla.
Weber said his department has been assisted by PAW Animal Shelter, Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Keokuk Animal Services and the Lee County Attorney’s office.
“I don’t know where we’d be if we didn’t have the Animal Rescue League and PAW helping us out,” Weber said.
Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said Tuesday that the deputies were on site for several hours at the home in the 1800 block of 340th Street in rural Argyle helping load the other animals.
He said last year’s problem with loose cattle roaming the county showed how a collaborative effort can yield productive results.
“This is something that just keeps coming up, but people forget. Our collaborative efforts to deal with the loose cattle benefited everyone. Others got involved and then that got to the point where it wasn’t just law enforcement trying to solve the problem. Many hands make light work,” Weber said.
“I think I’m going to have support of other dog breeders to do this. The cattleman’s association was hesitant because cows get out. But when it comes to this kind of stuff it keeps popping up due to weak laws.”