Paul Upton’s dogs are returning home!

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INDIANAPOLIS – It is been more than a year since Indianapolis Animal Care and Control (IACC) seized almost 60 dogs from Paul Upton’s dog training and boarding center, and his home, because of alleged kennel code violations under a revised code and failure to have permanent identification on all of the dogs.

“Until the first dog came through the door, I didn’t know if it was real or not,” said Mr. Upton. “I’ve been a law abiding citizen. The people have prevailed here.”

The city of Indianapolis delivered the first set of dogs back to the training facility in groups of ten on December 2 and December 9. The remaining dogs will be returned December 16 and December 23, with the oldest dogs arriving first. The dogs that are being returned include 31 dogs seized from Mr. Upton in November 2015, as well as nine puppies.

“It’s not about me, Paul Upton, a 70-year old man training dogs for all of his life,” said Mr. Upton. “It’s about the dogs.”

Mr. Upton is well-known and loved in the community, even calling his facility, Upton’s Famous Pet Training Center. 35 of the dogs were German Shepherds owned by Mr. Upton who owned and ran the center for over 30 years when the dogs were taken. Before this incident, he had never received a citation for the center. The remaining dogs were privately owned and being boarded or trained at the center.

All of the dogs were healthy when seized. The IACC impounded the dogs to hold them as evidence for the criminal case pending against Mr. Upton. Under the rules of evidence, IACC had a duty to preserve evidence when it kept the dogs to avoid compromising Mr. Upton’s rights to due process and a fair trial. Many of the dogs were not “preserved” as evidence. Several dogs became ill while in the care of the IACC, one got its tail broken, six puppies died, and another dog was euthanized after becoming depressed and developing an infection in its neck.

While at IACC, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) sent its employees to “temperament test” Paul Upton’s dogs. The dogs were not the property of IACC and were not subject to sale by the IACC, so it is unclear why the ASPCA was permitted to handle Mr. Upton’s dogs. ASPCA is a national animal rights organization that solicits donations to operate its small, New York City animal shelter and to campaign for laws that restrict animal use and control. ASPCA does not have any formally or objectively recognized expertise in training dogs.

ASPCA published videos of its sessions with each dog. Professional dog trainers and dog handlers, many who have titled dogs, were quick to criticize ASPCA on social media for using techniques not recognized in any normally-accepted dog handling practices. One dog was shown being “tested” while she was in labor with a large litter of puppies, raising questions of whether this was the dog whose puppies and if the “temperament test” was part of the reason the puppies died.

All dogs tested showed obvious signs of stress during the “testing.” ASPCA workers caused stress to one of the German Shepherds by placing it in an “agitation collar” and then agitating the dog while introducing the dog to a hyperactive mongrel being held by another ASPCA worker who had no control over the mongrel.

In one video, a dog showed serious signs of stress of anxiously sniffing the corners of a room, urinating on a wall, panting excessively, and pushing its weight in one ASPCA worker’s legs. The ASPCA worker said the dog was “relaxed” and then firmly pinched its paw until the dog pulled its paw away. The ASPCA worker said of the dog, “He will require someone strong,” indicating that either IACC or ASPCA may have thought the dog would be sold. The ASPCA worker also chided the dog saying, “You’re not a show dog, anymore.”

Many viewers on social media who watched any of the several ASPCA videos commented that the videos were painful and stressful to watch, sometimes commenting that they were crying from watching.

The dogs were seized in November 2015 and Mr. Upton was ordered to pay $6,150 a month for the care and treatment of the dogs. The city requested that Mr. Upton forfeit his German Shepherds to the city, pay $112,500 in fines, and pay $6,120 in fees to cover the costs of food and shelter. The city also requested Upton be banned from ever possessing any animal, according to court documents. Mr. Upton, his supporters, and crowdfunding donors on social media, paid the several thousand dollars necessary to keep Mr. Upton from losing his dogs.

After an agonizing year for Mr. Upton and his supporters, on November 30, 2016, Mr. Upton, the city of Indianapolis, and IACC, now called, Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) reached a settlement agreement.

Mr. Upton agreed to continue to allow inspections by IACS, as he had for 30 years. Mr. Upton further agreed that he will own no more than 18 dogs at the Upton Training Center, in compliance with the revised code. Mr. Upton further agreed to dismiss several lawsuits he filed against the city and to halt pending records requests and complaints.

The IACS and the city of Indianapolis will pay Mr. Upton and his attorney, Marshall Pinkus, $98,000 with IACC returning $73,000 in bond and the city paying $25,000. According to the agreement, payment is “in consideration for the upgrades Upton has made to the facility, resolution of the lawsuits, avoiding the cost and uncertainty of litigation, and relieving the City of the considerable cost and burden of continuing to care for the seized dogs, and recognizing that Upton’s Facility currently is in compliance with the Revised Code.”

 

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