By Leah Sander
NAPPANEE — Homer Slabaugh had 19 bulldogs taken from his breeding operation recently.
Some have suspected the dog breeding facility south of Nappanee might be a puppy mill operation.
A former police officer who now works as a safety and security advisor with a group affiliated with Slabaugh said he suspects the theft might be linked to animal rights activists. He and others have defended Slabaugh’s operation.
The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t released any information about possible suspects. Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Chris Francis said he’s not aware of any animal activist-linked animal thefts occurring in the county.
However, John Bolin, who serves as the safety and security advisor for the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare, said he suspects the theft could be related to animal rights activists based on his personal experience.
ICAW was “established to protect the rights of animal owners in Indiana, along with ensuring the welfare of all animals” according to its website.
Bolin noted Amish animal breeders such as Slabaugh are often the targets of animal rights activists due to their practice of being peaceable with others.
He was concerned about opinions regarding Slabaugh’s situation as just being those of a puppy mill being raided. Bolin pointed out whoever was responsible “trespassed on this man’s property in the middle of the night and stole” the animals, “his livelihood.”
Bolin told InkFreeNews that he went to work for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as an investigator following his time as a police officer.
However, after becoming uncomfortable with some of ASPCA’S practices, he said he became a whistleblower.
According to a Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office incident report, the dogs were reported stolen on Sunday afternoon, May 9. Eighteen of the animals were puppies.
Francis said “the dogs were taken from an outbuilding” either late on Saturday, May 8, or early on May 9.
He said the dogs were valued at $3,500 apiece, adding up to $66,500. They are microchipped.