Alleged puppy mill owners speak out

February 26, 2010 4:37:30 AM PST
Nearly two weeks after more than 50 dogs were seized in Kankakee County, the owners of an alleged puppy mill defend their operation.

Pat Gorecki and Karen Brownfield are accused of animal cruelty. No charges have been filed. Their dogs were seized in what investigators describe as deplorable conditions at a trailer park in St. Anne in Kankakee County.

Gorecki and Brownfield, who are sisters, are in a legal fight that continues in court on Friday afternoon. They are fighting to keep their dogs and puppies from being adopted. The women insist they are dog breeders and not running a puppy mill.

ABC7 took a closer look Thursday at the cages where 53 dogs once lived in St. Anne. The dogs are gone and their owners are under investigation for animal cruelty.

"To tell me I have abused my dogs, it's like telling me I have abused my children. And I have not," said Brownfield.

Brownfield and Gorecki say they are state licensed dog breeders who follow the law and take care of their animals.

"I am very hurt because of this accusation. It makes me feel that they have ruined my reputation," said Brownfield.

"I feel I'm a good dog breeder. If there were things that could make me better. Tell me what they are. I would do them," said Gorecki.

Nearly two weeks ago, a camera was rolling when Cook County Sheriff and state investigators executed a search warrant and had the animals remove. The South Suburban Humane Society is now taking care of them.

"Just the physical conditions that we were encountered to us, were more than enough to show us it was animal neglect, animal cruelty," said Emily Klehm, executive director of the South Suburban Human Society.

The Humane Society reports that 36 dogs have ear infections, 26 have swollen or injured paws, 13 have respiratory problems, and 6 have staph infections.

The Kankakee State's Attorney is working on the case.

"We are hopeful within a week or two formal charges will be made, whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, that determination will be made," said Jamie Boyd, Kankakee State's Attorney.

The owners are fighting to keep these dogs and their livelihood. And their attorney notes that during the last year, state inspectors checked out the kennels and Kankakee Animal Control was at the facility weeks before the raid.

"There was not one citation written. There wasn't one complaint, even informally, you need to do this, you need to do that. Everything was in compliance," said Edward Glazar, dog owners' attorney.

The owners just have one hope.

"I just want my babies back," said Gorecki.

Nine dogs are at the Humane Society. The rest are staying with foster families. Right now, the dogs are not up for adoption. On Friday the dog owners' lawyer will ask for a permanent restraining order, making sure the dogs are never adopted.