August 27, 2003 - Posted at: 10:52
WILLIFORD, Ark. -- Federal and local investigators spent the day in this small Sharp County town looking into allegations of animal abuse at the Martin Creek Kennels.
Kennel owner C.C. Baird, a Class B dog dealer, is reported to be one of the largest licensed animal dealers in the United States. Tuesday morning, he was served a federal search warrant and now members of the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Postal Service, and local law enforcement have his animal trading business under heavy investigation.
Sources say the animal trader is allegedly killing animals, removing vital body parts and selling them to research laboratories. U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins says details were strong enough to prompt a raid.
"Anytime a federal search warrant has been issued, federal agents have collected information that means probable cause has been determined and a crime has been committed," Cummings said.
Local residents like Wanda Mathews say they believe his business was legitimate.
"You know how you hear people say are they going around picking up peoples dogs and stuff like that but we really didn't think he was," Mathews said. "He'd been investigated before and I thought it was all over."
In 1997 Baird was found guilty of violating the Animal Welfare Act and was fined $5,000.
Cummings says agents will examine documents to see where the investigation leads them.