Dog Dealer's Day of Reckoning

Armed with a search warrant, agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and officers from the Arkansas State Police and the Sharp County Sheriff's Office raided the premises of notorious dog dealer C. C. Baird. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "The search was in connection with an ongoing investigation of alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act and other federal criminal statues." It is believed that the USPS is involved because in addition to selling live animals for experimentation, Baird was selling animal parts and shipping them by U.S. mail.

One hundred twenty-five dogs and one cat were seized during the search, which lasted from August 26 to the 31st. Most of the dogs who were seized in the raid are hounds, walkers, beagles, and some Labrador mixes. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "many begged to be petted. Some appear thin, their ribs showing through their skin, and others had obvious eye infections. The lone cat, a gray haired tabby with a bad eye, cowered in a litter box inside a large cat carrier set apart from the dogs."

Apparently, the raid is the culmination of an extensive undercover investigation conducted by Last Chance for Animals (LCA). They turned their documentation over to federal authorities who then conducted their own independent investigation and corroborated sufficient evidence of wrong-doing to obtain a search warrant. The agents investigating Baird have been close-lipped about the situation, but the LCA website contains a portion of the organization's findings including graphic photographs and video footage of animal abuse and neglect amid the squalor. The footage includes scenes of a dog being shot and another being hung by his collar and hit in the head.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, random source dealers, licensed as "Class B" and regulated by the USDA, are able to purchase animals from other dealers, pounds, and individuals who have bred and raised the animals. Then the dogs and cats "acquired" by the dealers are sold for hundreds of dollars to research facilities. Unfortunately, an unscrupulous person can claim he or she owns an animal and make a quick buck selling the poor creature to a random source dealer. The animal could have been stolen, acquired by fraud through a "free to good home" ad, or simply not bred and raised by the individual as mandated by law.

A number of the victims at Baird's Arkansas facility were in desperate need of veterinary care, including emaciated dogs and dogs suffering from heartworm, ehrlichia, eye infections, and bite wounds. All of the animals were violently dunked in a tank of the insecticide Permethrin to kill fleas and ticks, according to LCA, Last Chance for Animals.

This isn't the first run-in with the law for Baird; in fact, the local sheriff noted, "I remember one occasion several years ago when we recovered one dog [from Baird's premises] that was lost or stolen." USDA inspectors have documented deficiencies in record keeping, sanitation, veterinary care, and housing at Baird's premises. Baird has been cited by USDA for keeping too many animals in small pens, providing no shade or too little shade for animals, and keeping animals that were lame or suffered illnesses that needed veterinary attention. In 1997 Baird was convicted of violating the Animal Welfare Act but was fined a mere $5,000. In that case the judge ruled that Baird's "failure to verify the information given to him by his suppliers—by looking at the person's driver's license—amounted to failure to maintain his records fully and correctly." He also found that Baird had purchased random source animals from unauthorized sources.

Four of the 125 dogs taken from Baird's premises during the raid. These photos are from USDA's website, www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/ where you can view images of the animals who were seized. The animals have been placed with rescue groups where they are receiving veterinary care, being spayed or neutered, and will then be available for adoption. The groups include Bluebonnet Beagle Rescue of Texas, Inc., Doberman Rescue Group of Oklahoma, Michigan Hound Rescue, and Northeastern Arkansans for Animals.

The Animal Welfare Institute has discouraged laboratories from utilizing Class B, random source dog and cat dealers, because of the myriad problems associated with them. While the number of dealers has plummeted, 18 remain in operation. Baird is believed to have sold at least 3,000 dogs a year for experimentation and was likely making between $250 and $800 per animal, easily earning him more than a million dollars a year for the animals he collected from trade days and flea markets among other sources. The box on this page contains a list of research facilities that have supported Baird's business by purchasing animals from him.

Sadly, approximately 600 dogs remain at Baird's facility, Martin Creek Kennel. We have been unable to confirm if he is still in business, but we do know that USDA has not revoked his license to operate as a dealer. We anticipate the issuance of indictments later this month and hope that USDA will invoke at least a temporary revocation of Baird's license while the case is pending.

The animals taken from Baird's premises were temporarily housed at the Arkansas State Fairground but have now been handed over to rescue groups for adoption. The court documents are sealed so we don't know exactly what has happened, but it is a good sign that the government succeeded in gaining custody of these animals who can now be placed in safe, loving homes. If you're interested in an adopting an animal, please let us know, and we will put you in touch with the rescue organizations.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

You can help by sending much-needed letters to USDA thanking them for taking action against Baird and encouraging the prompt revocation of his dealer's license. The contact information for USDA is: Chester Gipson, Deputy Administrator, Animal Care, USDA/APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737; email: ace@aphis.usda.gov.

CUSTOMERS OF C.C. BAIRD

Allegheny University of the Health Sciences (PA)
CAVL (TX)
Church and Dwight (NJ)
Colorado State University
East Tennessee State University
IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. (ME)
Jefferson College Vet Tech (MO)
Iowa State University
KCM (Kids Count in Missouri)
Loyola University Medical Center (IL)
Masonic Medical Research (NY)
Mercy Health Care (AZ)
Miami University (FL)
Mississippi State University
Naval Medical Center (VA)
Professional Laboratory (NC)
SA Scientific (TX)
St. Joseph's Hospital (AZ)
Still Meadow, Inc. (TX)
Synbiotics, Inc. (CA)
Texas Tech Health Center
Tulane Medical School (LA)
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
University of California at Irvine
University of Florida
University of Nebraska
University of Pittsburgh (PA)
University of Illinois
University of Mississippi
University of Missouri at Columbia
University of South Alabama
University of Tennessee
University of Texas at San Antonio
University of Virginia
Vanderbilt University (TN)
Virginia Commonwealth University
West Virginia University
Young Veterinary Research Services (CA)