“Not a puppy mill” but breeders in LaGrange look to expand

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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LAGRANGE COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) -A dog breeder in LaGrange County is looking to expand their business, but some residents who live nearby are trying to put that plan on pause.

“LaGrange County is known as the puppy mill capital of the Upper-Midwest,” Gary Litke says.

Gary Litke and Jean McKibben live on 150 N, down the road from the breeders and their possible new site for bigger business. They say that land will be a massive mill operation.

“I do not like the idea at all,” Gary says. “It’s kind of disgusting,”Jean adds.

Lavern Whetstone owns the land where he hopes to have 100 dogs for breeding; that’s if he can get a zoning variance on July 21 that some in LaGrange County are pushing back on.

“There’s no way that they can take care of that many dogs properly, have enough running room for them,” Litke says.

Whetstone spoke to 16 News Now off camera on Friday and says they’ve got it all wrong. He’s a breeder and it’s not a puppy mill. He’s USDA and state licensed, has been a breeder for 10 years and already has 50 dogs on his other property nearby.

“I despise the idea of it, we call them puppy mills,” Litke says.

Neighbors are worried the animals won’t be treated well but Whetstone says he’s a member of the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare. They ensure all animals are safe and he says his business abides by all rules and regulations required.

“Find a better job, its not the right thing,” Litke says.

For the Whetstones it is their job, but for others it’s seen as just making a quick buck when there are other animals that are in need of homes.

“When you have literally millions every year, of dogs and cats, put to sleep in this country from shelters, it escapes me, why they would keep approving these facilities,” McKibben says,

The application for the rezoning of the proposed site is set to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals on July 21.

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