One Teenager Brings Down a Puppy Mill in “Precedent Setting” Case

Update April 18, 2008: After 6 1/2 hours of testimony on April 17, Judge David Motes in the forfeiture hearing "ordered that Jackson County may dispose of 270 dogs from that puppy mill as it desires, according to the law," said Cheryl McAuliffe, Georgia Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

The judge said the dogs could be sold. But McAuliffe believes it is likely the dogs will stay with the many rescue groups caring for them including LifeLine Animal Project, in Atlanta. Jackson County has four dogs the puppy millers claim are pets. 

Proceeds from any sale would likely go to reimburse the rescue groups that  have been caring for these dogs. 

Judge Motes found the dogs were "objects of cruelty" and suffered unjustifiably. Indeed, state and county officials and 4 veterinarians testified about the horrible, filthy conditions in which the dogs lived and their many health problems. Dogs had actually starved to death and many suffered from defects probably from inbreeding as well as other conditions like broken bones, tumors, malnutrition, dehydration, sores, wounds, parasites, etc.

The judge cited the lack of veterinary care, food, adequate shelter and sanitation as the reasons for his decision. 

McAuliffe added, "This is a precedent setting case which should serve as a warning to those who would factory farm dogs as cash crops in horrid conditions that Georgia will no longer tolerate this behavior."

The criminal charges remain pending against the mill owners. The state has shut down this mill, citing the owners, the Hughes, with 1450 violations. They face substantial fines as well. 

Marie Hughes, one of the owners, has said she will appeal Judge Motes’ ruling and also the state’s suspension of her breeder’s and dealer’s licenses. 

Read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below for more information about this case including how one teenager stepped up and shut down this mill, something the State and county had not done despite years of investigation. 

Update April 4, 2008: Authorities seized and removed the remaining dogs from the puppy millers’ property.

A forfeiture hearing is set for April 17. In that action county animal control officers are asking a judge to terminate the puppy millers’ rights to the dogs. If the judge orders ownership rights to the dogs forfeited, they can be put up for adoption.

Charges were filed earlier against the owners of the puppy mill, L&D Farm and Kennel. Jennifer Marie Hughes, Ronnie Hughes, Marie Hughes and Brandy S. Stone were each charged with 5 felony and 55 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. This for what authorities say is the largest seizure of dogs ever in Georgia.

The state Department of Agriculture has suspended the millers’ kennel license. The Department’s investigation is ongoing, but officials have already said it is unlikely the Hughes would be allowed to operate another commercial dog breeding business or puppy mill in Georgia. It is possible the millers’ could face fines up to $1 million.

It shows what one person can do. In this case a teenaged employee, Tiffani Butler, reported the abuse she saw at this mill. Her report led to the raid that has now shut down this mill. See Animal Law Coalition’s earlier report below for more information on what Tiffani’ saw at this mill.

Many of the dogs had already been removed and were in foster care. Several animal welfare organizations are helping with shelter and treatment for the dogs. As Animal Law Coalition reported below, the dogs are in dire need of veterinary and other care.

Rebecca Guinn, Director of LifeLine Animal Project,, observed, "Puppies sold by pet stores or online come from puppy mills like this. It is estimated anywhere from 25% to 1/3 of these dogs end up in shelters, adding to the overpopulation of homeless pets. If I could tell the public two things it would be don’t buy dogs from pet stores or online. Instead adopt a dog from a local shelter or rescue. Also, spay/neuter your pets." 

LifeLine Animal Project is collecting and administering donations received for the housing and care of the Jackson County puppy mill dogs. Please help with donations. Go to for more information.

LifeLine operates a low cost spay/neuter clinic in Atlanta and works to find homes for homeless animals that would otherwise end up euthanized in the public shelters. More than 80,000 animals were euthanized in the Atlanta public shelter in 2007.

Original report: Nineteen year old Tiffany Butler went to work for a commercial dog breeder in Jackson County, Georgia on February 18, 2008.

On February 19 Tiffany filed a Complaint with county authorities that has led to arrests and state and local authorities taking control of this puppy mill.

It goes to show it only takes one person to make a difference, to stop cruelty, to put a dent in the pet trade in which so many animals are trapped in misery.

In her complaint Tiffany says the first place she saw was the "puppy room", "the only clean room" where puppies are put "before a customer comes". Tiffany described that "cockroaches infest[ed] the walls". When she then went into the "puppy barn", sort of a birthing area, Tiffany could not breathe because of the stench. "It smelled horrible".  Roaches were everywhere, even falling on her head.  There was another room and a trailer that were also filled with dogs living in filthy, squalid conditions.

As she began cleaning, Tiffany noticed a shi-tzu dog that could not stand. The puppy had no energy. When Tiffany told "Jennifer", her supervisor, about the dog, Jennifer said she knew about the dog, that it had been that way for a few days. Jennifer said "it costs too much" to take the little dog to the vet. So the puppy was left to suffer.

Tiffany took the little shi-tzu home and fed him throughout the night. She also decided she must do something about this puppy mill. But, Tiffany explained in her complaint, "I had not seen the worst part."

The next day Tiffany saw a little puppy almost dead in its cage. She picked up the little guy, but he was not responsive to her efforts to revive him. Jennifer once again refused to get vet care because of the cost. Tiffany asked if they could at least humanely euthanize him. Jennifer responded, "We don’t want to do that either…because if he makes it, we will sell him."

Then Tiffany was driven to an area with rows of pit bulls that had no food or water. Their kennels were muddy, filled with waste. The dogs had open sores all over their bodies.

Tiffany saw a 6×6 cage filled with 10-20 dogs suffering from illness and open wounds.  

Tiffany also saw horses that were starving. She could count their ribs.

Tiffany quit the $6.00 per hour job and filed her complaint. She still has the shi-tzu puppy.

Puppy mill puppyState and Local Authorities Take Over -Sort of

After Tiffany filed her Complaint, the mill was raided by the State Department of Agriculture and Jackson County Animal Control. Authorities found dogs that were starving, sick and suffering from sores and injuries. One dog was dead in his cage. A team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians have examined the dogs. 

The four puppy mill operators, owners Ronnie and Marie Hughes, Jennifer Hughes, and Brandy Stone, each face 5 felony and 55 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. Jennifer and Brandy were jailed this past week but released on $35,000 bond each. 

Curiously, as a condition of their bond, they are required to care for and report any deaths of the 300 dogs at the mill known as L&D Farm and Kennel in Nicholson, Georgia. Well, more than 300 now because many have given birth since then.

And the bond does not require the Hughes to stop the breeding. They can continue to operate the mill but the local animal control will make sure the place is clean and the animals are cared for. The Hughes will not be able to remove any of the dogs, though, at least at this time.  They have been allowed to take some dogs to the vet since the raid.

The puppy mill has existed for years with these deplorable conditions. Jackson County Animal Control and the state Department of Agriculture were well aware of this mill’s conditions. The state had, in fact, cited Marie Hughes who holds the state license for the mill, several times over the years for violations of Georgia’s animal protection laws. It’s not clear the state ever  inspected all of the buildings on the property. Tommy Irvin, Commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture, said he believed the state authorities had only visited some of the buildings.

In an unusual move the Jackson County Commission actually voted about whether to pursue charges. There was some discussion initially about asking the mill operators to give up their dogs and business in exchange for an agreement not to file charges. The Commission did decide to pursue charges. The prosecutor could have proceeded anyway with charges had the county commission pursued that agreement.

The Jackson County Humane Society initially was not allowed on the property. But volunteers and rescuers have since been welcomed to help care for and place the dogs. The humane society president, Angela Gosnell, has said the Society would help care for the dogs and find homes for any that are surrendered or obtained through forfeiture. And now a number of the dogs have been placed. If you can help, contact Angela Gosnell at

The Humane Society has worked in recent years to start a spay/neuter fund to help low income pet owners. The society has worked to place animals in need of good homes. The society has urged the county to build an animal shelter.  

Georgia’s Animal Protection Laws are found at O.C.G.A. §§4-11-1-17 and GA. Comp. R. & Regs. §§40-13-13-.01-.10. Copies are in Animal Law Coalition’s Laws.  

19 thoughts on “One Teenager Brings Down a Puppy Mill in “Precedent Setting” Case”

  1. The Animal Protection Division knows what their job is – getting them to actually do it is a whole other ballgame. That entire department needs to be abolished and placed into the hands of more competent, and caring, individuals.

  2. Way to go, Tiffany! I am so glad you spoke up against the conditions of that mill. You should be very proud of yourself. YES- One person can make a HUGE difference in the lives of poor, innocent animals.

  3. Tiffany – you are the MAN! It took tremendous courage to do what you did! You deserve national recognition. Thank you SOOOOOO much!!!!!

  4. Thank you Tiffany, you are indeed a heroine to all of us who love and care for the well being of our furry kids! It sickens me to know there are hundreds of other of these puppy mills that need to be shut down. The suffering that these adorable, innocent animals go through is absolutely unforgivable! I wish there was a Tiffany at all the other puppy mills so that the animals forced to be in those deplorable conditions could have the chance you gave the dogs at the L&D Kennels. Also, the Shitz Zu you saved from sure death is adorable. How happy you have made that little puppy and now she can live the life that all animals deserve, with love and care.

  5. Tiffany
    Thank you for the courage to stand up. Many people turn their backs to such and it takes someone with the heart and strength to do what you did. Eveeryone of us that do rescue commend you for what you did! you should be on Oprah!

  6. Honestly 10-20 dogs in a 6 by 6 ft pen?…what were they, stacked like logs?
    Does no one with half a brain read her report and start asking themselves the validity of it?
    It was her job to clean, if they were living in “filthy and squalid” conditions, then she should look in the mirror and see why she wasn’t doing her job right.
    Obviously, this kennel hired several people to care for the dogs..what were they all doing?
    Wasn’t her boyfriend working there before she started? Why wasn’t he doing his job to care for the animals?

    It always amazes me that people think it is ok, to raid a property ,take all the animals without doing education and more importantly without due process of the law.
    They will steal these dogs, put them in a shelter somewhere and charge an absurd amount to care for them in the hope the kennel owner will just release the dogs to the shelter rather than paying a board fee.
    Then, that same shelter will advertise and sell all these “rescud” dogs for a nice tidy profit.
    GA had a shelter just recently with a neglect case, about 20 coon type hounds if I recall correctly, and guess what? That shelter refused to take the dogs, left them at the place, with the remark “they had no room” I bet if they were cute saleable breeds like from this “puppy mill” those dogs would have been “rescued” and resold
    We have a Constitution and bill of rights for a reason, maybe someday people will figure out why. I hope it is not too late by then

  7. You must have made money from that operation! In addition, I bet you don’t have animals or children…. at least the world hopes not because PEOPLE like you shouldn’t breed. Animals or children

    If I had made such ignorant comments I’d be anonymous too.


  8. Tiffany you are a great person with compasion for animals. There should be a large reward for people doing what you did. You did the right and best thing and don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. Thank you from me and thank you from every dog you saved. I know your puppy will have a great and safe home. BLESS YOU

  9. It is “idiots” like you that are the reason puppy mills still exist

    THANK YOU TIFFANY! I wish there were more out there like you!


  10. #1 Tiffany and her boyfriend were hired the same day. They both stayed long enough to gather the evidence needed and left. Talk about somebody needing to check their facts.
    #2 10-20 dogs in a 6×6 cage…yes it certainly does happen in every puppy mill that is out to produce as many puppies as possible. Again, check your own facts before you speak.
    #3 The years of abuse that went on there didn’t happen from Tiffany or her boyfriend not cleaning the cages for 2 days. Again, educate yourself before you speak.
    #4 All of these dogs are not sitting at the Jackson County Animal Shelter…they are divided amongst many rescue groups. wow, you really just talk out of your ass end don’t you?!?!
    #5 Due Process: Everybody knows this law and due process is coming April 17th. Animals in deplorable conditions do not legally have to stay that way until their due process comes. And the same county that protected the Hughes’ for years isn’t going this far over nothing.
    #6 Nobody is violating the Hughes’ constitutional rights! Trust me there are enough lawyers advising this case. Better lawyers than the Hughes’ dirty blood money can buy.
    #7 Shelters almost never have the means to house large numbers of rescues at one time…if no rescue groups stepped up for the coon hounds they will eventually. I guarantee somebody is keeping an eye on those dogs until they find a place to go.
    #8 Were you on the Hughes’ payroll? Is that why you are defending them?
    #9 There are over 1,000 pictures of their abuse that will hopefully help you shut your mouth.
    #10 People like you are why the rest of the world thinks the south is so ass backwards. Do us all a favor, go lose yourself.

    Anything else you want to say?

  11. Yes, Tiffany did a very unconditional act of kindness and has saved the lives of many dogs.

    However it was NOT her job! For the JCAC & Georgia Dept. Of Ag. were VERY aware of the conditions at L & D Farm & Kennel, and infact they have known for years, and simply walked away for their duties of their job.

    Besides the Hughes’s being held accountable for their actions, so should JCAC and Georgia Dept. Of Ag! Those involved of IGNORING the horrific and vile conditions at this “puppy mill” should be FIRED!

    Shame on them! Shame on them for allowing these dogs to live in the conditions they were. Perhaps they should go live there and be placed in the same living conditions of the animals they have ignored.
    Think of all the animals that have died because of their ignorance!
    Think of how many sick and diseased animals were taken to pet stores, sold to naive families, only to have their precious new family pet die of birth defects. disease or other health related issues.

    Shame on them!
    They need to be held accountable for their actions!

  12. ok, i just wanna tell everyone a few things, i DO NOT HAVE THE SHT-TSU PUPPY! lol… animal control and jackson county police made me give her back… i only cared for her through that night.. i left the puppy with Jennifer and Brandy, and since then i have been told thet the pup did not make it through that night… 🙁 sad but true… I only done this for the animals, i didn’t do it for any other reason… i don’t expect a big reward or anything else in htat matter… i just wanted the animals cared for! if anone has anyinformation that would help feel free to e-mail me…

  13. If everyone spoke out against animal cruelty when they see it….Oh, the thought makes me smile!

  14. Tiffany-thank you for doing this because you care about the dogs..not for a “reward”.You set a great example for our country’s young people!Your a wonderful person indeed!

    ~Tammy & Blue~

  15. Tiffany,
    Awesome job!! Thank you so much for taking the time to protect these animals. One person can make a huge difference. Thanks again!!! Stacey Decatur, Ga

  16. Marie Hughes isn’t the only puppy peddler the Dept of Ag has allowed to do this. There is another one located in Cherokee County that has been allowed to do the same things, for over nine years. And the Dept of Ag inspector, according to the report, discovered FOUR dead dogs in an enclosure on her property. And this licensee is STILL licensed with the Dept of Ag.

    Don’t let the Dept of Ag Animal Protection Division tell you that there going to “handle” things. Because they don’t. They just do alot of damage control to try to keep from looking bad in the public spotlight.

  17. It horrifies me that people could keep their dogs in such awful conditions. I could never do that to my four-legged babies. The way to stop puppy mills is to pass a law forbiding selling of dogs and cats at pets stores. That is who purchases the animals from puppy mills. Any person who believes the pet store purchases from reputable breeders is ignorant. Almost any reputable breeder belongs to an organization for their breed and the Code of Ethics forbides selling to pet stores or pet brokers. Reputable breeders only sell directly to the adopting family.

    People who want to purchase dogs and cats; research the characteristic you what in your pet, study different breeds, then look for a breeder, go to a shelter, go to a rescue group – but DO NOT go to a pet store.

    If you didn’t buy at a pet store, they couldn’t sell at a pet store. If they couldn’t sell at a pet store, there would be no need for puppy mills.

  18. Hi.I know this question might be out of subject/topic….
    I need to tell my story & what I can do to get my 9 month old papillon back.
    My boyfriends manager was interested in buying my puppy.So we agreed on him “borrowing” my puppy for three days.Ever since Ive been trying to get my puppy back but he refuses to work with me.We have scheduled the week before last for me to pick my puppy up,but I called him to tell him I wont be coming because Im not feeling well.So we would reschedule for me to come pick him up at his restraunt.Then last week I was going up to NY for a week & I told him I want my puppy back before I leave.I called him and argued with him a lot that day.He told me “oohhhh nooo….I will watch him for you while your in NY….then when you come back Ill bring him up to my restraunt & you can pick him up” So I said whatever.. So I get back from NY & I called him last wed setting up a day for me to pick my pup up.We scheduled for last friday.And when I called him to remind him,he suddely demanded money for “watchin” my puppy! Let me clear everything up from the beginning though,I never set a price,He offered a price & I denied it. We never agreeed for me to pay him for “babysitting” MY pup.He just didnt want to give him back to me because his family already gotten attached to MY pup.So now Im fighting for him. I have ALL his papers,I OWN my baby.I have vet records.My pup has a chip.Now what do I do to get him back? I already filed a police report.But why do I have to fight for my baby if he BELONGS to me??!

    I heard I have to go to civil court to file a lawsuit against him.

    But I heard that if you leave your pet over a persons house for more then 12 or 15 days,that its considered abandonment. BUT Ive been calling him to get my pup back before then! So Its not abandonment is it?

    And then hes gonna say that I LEFT my pup with him when I went up to NY which is a fat lie. Call Records will show how many times Ive called him trying to get my pup back!


  19. so you believe that she wasn’t doing her job , you may be right, but you have no right to say that she was wrong in what she done. I was working at one of the rescue organizations that bordered the dogs and they were so malnourished that you could count every bone in their bodies. one poodle jumped out of a vets lap no more than a foot off the ground and its leg broke. yes you can spout your hatred and uneducated thoughts, but before you go judging others actions don’t just read a report.

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