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Animal activists worry possible puppy mill coming to Southern Colorado

Animal activists worry possible puppy mill coming to Souther

WESTCLIFFE, Colo. - A group of animal activists and an Amish man are at odds over a proposed commercial breeding facility in Westcliffe.

Martin Troyer presented his plan for a breeding facility for dogs on his Amish group's property to Custer County's zoning commission on Tuesday.

Troyer has proposed a small breeding facility from which he would sell about 100 dogs a year.  He plans to breed bichons and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Peggy Kavookjian attended Tuesday's presentation to hear Troyer's plan. She works with animal rescues and is urging the zoning commission to deny his request for a permit.

"It's obvious to me that he wants to supplement his income and I get that," said Kavookjian. "But to do it with animals, they just don't get the care they need." 

Conni Bouchard operates an animal rescue outside of Trinidad.  Breeder Release Adoption Service rescues dogs from puppy mills and families adopt them.

She said conditions in puppy mills are "horrifying."

"The welfare of the dogs is not an issue. They are considered livestock," said Bouchard.

She started her nonprofit after she rescued a small dog from an Amish breeder that had been in a cage for 10 years.

Bouchard said this commercial breeding facility cannot happen.

"It's factory farming for puppies," said Bouchard. 

Troyer insisted in the meeting that his facility would not be a puppy mill.

"I think animals should be taken care of properly and the animals have rights. Which we would try to reach that and do everything we could to make that happen," said Troyer.

The commission planned to review the answers and information from Tuesday's meeting and will make a decision on the permit at a hearing in a couple of months.    

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