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Indy Animal Care and Control sued over raid

Posted at 6:53 PM, Dec 23, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS -- Upton’s Famous Pet Training Center has filed a lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis and Indianapolis Animal Care and Control alleging dozens of dogs were unlawfully seized during a November 5 raid.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court Southern District, said Indianapolis Care and Control officers “launched a surprise raid” in which they impounded 35 German Shepherds belonging to owner Paul Upton.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control conducted the sweep of animal related business in cooperation with the Department of Code Enforcement and the Indianapolis Fire Marshall’s office.

The dogs, which belong to Upton, are now in the custody of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

According to the suit, Upton has been denied the opportunity to see the dogs and have his request to have his veterinarian provide care for the dogs has also been denied.

“The Upton’s Pet Training Center has been in business for thirty years with a perfect inspection record,” said Mindy Patterson, President of The Cavalry Group, an organization that provides legal defense for animal enterprises. “We believe the Upton’s are being wrongfully targeted and victims of an agenda fueled by radical animal rights activism within animal control.”

Upton’s has never received any citations in 30 years of business until the November 5 raid, according to the suit.

On November 6, the city filed a complaint in court against Upton alleging 47 violations including not providing proper care and treatment of the animals as well as not having the proper identification for the dogs.

The city has requested Upton forfeit his German Shepherds to the city, as well as pay $112,500 in fines and $6,120 in fees to cover the costs of food and shelter.

The city has also requested Upton be banned from ever possessing any animal, according to court documents.

Call 6 Investigates contacted Indianapolis Animal Care and Control who said all the citations against Upton’s are pending a jury trial that is set to take place next month.

Upton is not allowed to house any animals at the training facility, but he is able to hold dog training sessions.

The city agency would not comment specifically on the lawsuit.

"We are aware of the lawsuit, but City policy prohibits us from commenting about on-going litigation,” said IACC Deputy Chief Kim Wolsiffer. Wolsiffer is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

“What is most worrisome in this case is that the Upton’s dogs have been taken by animal control,” said Patterson. “We hope Deputy Chief of Enforcement, Kim Wolsiffer and others at Indianapolis animal control don’t do the unthinkable before the dogs are returned to their rightful owners.”

Upton has trained German Shepherds for IMPD and therapy dogs for nursing homes, according to the suit.

The kennel passed its April 2015 inspection with an “excellent” rating and the city renewed its kennel license in May 2015, according to the suit.

The kennel denies any of its dogs were malnourished or underfed.

The lawsuit requests punitive damages as well as the city return the dogs to Paul Upton.

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