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Backyard puppy breeder or animal hoarder?

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Backyard puppy breeder or animal hoarder?

By Darcy Spears. CREATED May 12, 2014

Pahrump, NV (KTNV) -- When you buy a pet online, do you know where it's coming from? Contact 13 tracked Las Vegas puppies to a home in Pahrump that's overrun with animals.

Is it backyard breeding? Animal hoarding? Whatever you call it, it's against the law.

"They were just everywhere. Puppies, big dogs, in the kitchen, in front, no space in that house there wasn't a dog," recalled Dawn Douglas.

Most people have never seen anything like the house in Pahrump where Dawn Douglas bought her two Shih Tzu puppies in March.

"I went on Craigslist and I know they say you shouldn't but I did."

She paid $300 cash, took the young pups straight to her Las Vegas condo and within days, "They started to get sick and then within a week of having them they were in the hospital diagnosed with the Parvovirus."

Bentley and Whitley are much better now, but it cost Dawn nearly $2,000 in vet bills to nurse them back to health. She filed a complaint with Nye County Animal Control.

Vance Payne with Nye County Emergency Management oversees animal control, "They answered the door and it was a scene from 101 Dalmatians."

Except they were Shih Tzus. Approximately 80 of them according to animal control's incident report.

"It's not lawful, number one, and number two, it's not good for the animals, the people, anybody," said Payne.

Animal control found "many violations" at Myrna Lisette Fournier's property.

Since she's not a licensed breeder, the law allows her to have only five animals. Three of them have to be spayed or neutered.

Fournier voluntarily surrendered eight puppies to animal control on their first visit and three more when they went back a second time.

As for the rest, Payne said, "Our shelter is not physically capable of taking that many at one time."

The investigating officer called it "a hoarding situation."

But that's not all.

"Is this woman allowed to be selling puppies? Is she allowed to be breeding puppies," asked Darcy Spears.

"She is not," said Vance.

"The fact that she's doing that essentially means she's breaking the law?" asked Darcy.

"That's correct," stated Vance.

Fournier, who goes by her middle name, agreed to talk to us and let us into her home, with conditions, "I'm not gonna show all of them. I show you some of them."

She and her husband allowed a select group of dogs to greet us. We counted about 30 between the kitchen, living room and patio. They wouldn't let us look in any of the bedrooms or bathrooms.

But animal control did get into those rooms and took pictures, which they shared with us.

Their report said, in addition to the "multiple dogs and 8-9 puppies in the main living room" there were about 20 adult dogs in the first bedroom, 17 in the second and seven more in the third.

There was also a bathroom with "multiple dogs stashed inside" and a mother nursing puppies in a crate in the kitchen.

Animal control said there's no cruelty going on. The dogs are in relatively good health and in reasonably good conditions. There are just far too many for what the law allows.

Inside, the house is sparsely furnished and dirty. There were cracks in the floor and holes in the walls. The overwhelming odor of urine mixed with cleaning products forced us outside to talk.

"You don't have a license to breed, you don't have a license to sell, so what you've been doing is illegal. What's your response to that?" asked Darcy.
"We don't know we need a license for breeding. We don't know we need a license to sell them," said Lisette.

We then asked how many litters of puppies they had brought through there, "Umm. I don't have a clue, but there is a lot."

Try 105. The vet records Lisette gave Dawn list the puppies by number.

Contact 13 confirmed with the vet that Lisette has brought them 105 litters, with anywhere from 4-8 puppies each time. She has a total of 128 individual animals on account at Craig Road Animal Hospital.

"Do you think you're contributing to an overpopulation problem?" asked Darcy.

"No, I don't think because like I tell you, we don't breed them all the time," said Lisette.

She said she's starting to spay and neuter her dogs as she can afford to, "I don't sell puppies now and I'm gonna stop like for one year. Or probably forever."

We asked her about Dawn's puppies and their diagnosis of Parvo.

"Probably get Parvo but when was in my house here in Pahrump, they was normal. They was healthy."

Animal control tested the puppies they took. None had Parvo, but one had Giardia, which comes from surfaces, soil, food or water that has been contaminated with feces.

"I am not a puppy mill here. My dogs never been sick and if they get sick I take care of that," said Lisette.

"Are you a backyard breeder?" asked Darcy.


When asked if she was a hoarder, Lisette replied, "What's that?"

Lisette said she considers her dogs family, "A lady can have 10 kids and nobody complain about it but if they see 10 dogs, they're gonna complain about it."

"There's more than 10 though. We know that," said Darcy.

"Yes, but I don't have that in my mind how we can deal with too many dogs. We buy the food that they need to eat. We take them to the vet when they are sick or they need to be checked. And that's it. That's our normal life."

Lisette said she'd rather move than give up any more of her dogs. 

Animal control will be issuing citations and the matter will likely wind up in court.  

If you're buying a puppy, animal control said you should insist on seeing where the puppy came from and get all the proper paperwork.

Better yet, they recommend you adopt, don't shop, so you can help control our pet overpopulation problem.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.