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By Phyllis McLaughlin, Landmark News Service
With help from the Henry County animal control officer, 28 fewer dogs are living at Matrix Kennels on Laura Pope’s property in Mount Eden.
At the request of Spencer County Magistrate Jerry Davis, Dan Flinkfelt said he went to check on the dogs at the Van Buren Road kennel on Thursday, March 13. He said Pope was “very receptive” to his visit and his offer to help get the dogs into an out-of-state rescue that Flinkfelt has worked with for several years.
Pope has been accused by many people on Facebook – and elsewhere on the Internet – of operating a puppy mill on the remote 111-acre property. Under the names Matrix and Kev-Lar Kennels, Pope breeds Siberian huskies, Belgian Malnois, German shepherds and Shiba Inus. She and her partner, Kevin Bailey, advertise puppies for sale online through Matrix and Kev-Lar for anywhere from $900 to $1,600.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Pope reiterated that she does not sell puppies wholesale but sells them to families.
She said the situation has escalated to harassment, with people coming from her neighbor’s yard onto her property to take pictures and video of her dogs. She said she has received death threats.
“I’m just terrified for my life and for the dogs’ lives,” she said.
Pope said she sent 18 huskies, seven Shiba Inus and three German shepherds into the rescue with Flinkfelt on Friday.
“I was thrilled that Dan helped me do that,” she said. “As long as the dogs are happy, that’s what’s important to me.”
Flinkfelt said each dog was given rabies shots by veterinarian Dan Bension of Salt River Animal Clinic in Taylorsville and received a certificate of health, which is required for interstate transportation.
“It was not a full examination by any means,” Bension said. “But they all looked healthy.”
“Everything looked fine while I was there,” Flinkfelt said in a phone interview Monday. “The dogs were in great shape. They were very well taken care of, but it is a massive number of dogs.”
Flinkfelt said there were 157 dogs on the property Thursday, and the removal of the dogs Friday brings the number down to 129. He said he is continuing to work with Pope to further reduce the number of dogs she keeps. Flinkfelt said she has agreed to send two or three more dogs on the next rescue transport in two weeks.
Flinkfelt said the process may take longer than Pope’s critics may like, but “the dogs are not in any danger. Yes, the property could be cleaned up. There’s a lot of debris, dead trees, piles of stuff. All that could be cleaned up. But the dogs all looked fine. “People want everything done now, but they have to be patient with us. It takes a little time,” he said. “It may not be done at the speed her neighbors want, but she’s not doing anything illegal. … Until Kentucky can change its laws, [situations like this] will keep popping up. We’ll continue to deal with it and the taxpayers will have to keep paying for it.”