Humane society to return 16 dogs to owner

LIGONIER, Ind. (WANE) – 16 dogs and two cats once removed out of safety concerns should soon be returned to their owner in Noble County. Officials said the Humane Society of Noble County has no authority to hold them anymore because the prosecutor decided not to file charges.

The incident began when Ligonier police responded to pit bull mixes fighting in the same kennel.  Leaders with the Humane Society were called in and said they were told to remove seven dogs, nine puppies, and two cats.  Jennifer Getts with the humane society said some of the dogs were initially considered a hazard to public safety because they were so aggressive.

The Noble County prosecutor said he didn’t file charges because a vet gave all the animals a clean bill of health.

Owner Keith Mclaughlin was upset when the humane society took his dogs and immediately got an attorney. He said he was feeding the dogs twice a day and taking good care of them.

When asked why he had so many dogs, Mclaughlin said he took some of them in because they were abandoned, and the puppies were an unexpected surprise between a couple of his pit bull mixes.

He said one of the dogs was acting aggressive because it was trained to be a guard dog.

“It’s hurtful to me that they’re putting my name out there on the fact that I’m neglecting my animals and basically making it look like I dog fight which is not the case,” Mclaughlin said.  “I was upset because there was no need. No neglect. All the dogs were fed.”

The Humane Society of Noble County referred NewsChannel 15 to its attorney Seth Tipton Friday.  Tipton said the shelter has no authority to hold the dogs anymore because no charges were filed.

Tipton wouldn’t give his opinion on the prosecutor’s decision, but said it’s a sign that Indiana’s animal laws need to change.

“What we’re going to be doing is working with local law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office so there’s more communication. So when a police officer shows up on scene, they’re better trained to know if a crime’s been committed,” Tipton said.  “If that’s the case then, what we’re going to work for, we would be contacted.”

Officials said there’s no law in Ligonier restricting the number of pets a homeowner can have.

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