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Indiana animal rescue operator charged with 11 animal cruelty charges

Indianapolis Animal Care Services cut ties with rescue
IACS has sent a total of 17 dogs to Fur Ever Family Rescue in Michigan City, including Steve (pictured).  Note: this picture was taken before Steve left IACS.
Posted at 10:51 AM, Feb 01, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — LaPorte County prosecutors have filed animal cruelty charges against the operator of a Michigan City-based animal rescue.

John Naughton, operator of Fur Ever Family Animal Rescue, 207 Earl Road in Michigan City, is charged with 11 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, court records show.

Court documents allege four of the abused animals came from Indianapolis Animal Rescue Services— dogs named Gunner, Mommies, Napoleon and Steve.

"Nearly all the dog rescues in John's possession were malnourished with noticeable signs of weight loss, signs of injury and or had been crated for so long their fur was discolored from laying in urine," court documents allege.

The dogs are no longer in Naughton's possession, court records say.

Naughton told police he did not intentionally mistreat the animals, however, he confessed to becoming overwhelmed with having too many dogs.

Court records show Naughton worked 11-hour days in LaPorte, leaving very little time to spend with the dogs.

"This is where the neglect begins as many of the animals began to lose weight," read the police report.

Prosecutors filed the charges on January 30 and a warrant was issued on January 31 and later recalled.

Naughton is due in court on March 6.

As WRTV reported last month, Indianapolis Animal Care Service cut ties with Naughton’s animal rescue amid allegations the rescue mistreated animals in its care.

The Michigan City Police Department opened a criminal investigation into Fur Ever Family Animal Rescue, 207 Earl Road in Michigan City, after receiving “information from multiple concerned citizens and animal groups regarding the treatment of rescue dogs.”

“Numerous evidentiary items have been collected thus far and no rescue dogs remain at the business," the police department said in a statement to WRTV. “The business is currently closed.”

The rescue says on its Facebook page that it is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, but WRTV could not find any organizational or financial information for the rescue using Guidestar, a website that gathers information on nonprofits.

Indianapolis Animal Care Services started using Fur Ever Family Animal Rescue in September 2022.

An IACS spokesperson says a total of 17 dogs have been sent from Indianapolis Animal Care Services to Fur Ever Family Animal Rescue.

In a January 17 email to staff and volunteers, IACS Deputy Director Katie Trennepohl said she had received concerning stories that dogs were not properly cared for while at the rescue.

“First and foremost, we have confirmed that all of the dogs that came from IACS are no longer in Fur Ever Family’s care,” read the email. “They are now being cared for by other rescues who stepped up to help.”

Since the rescue is located outside of Indianapolis, IACS has no enforcement authority to get involved, said Trennepohl.

“As a result of the allegations of neglect and abuse, IACS will no longer work with Fur Every Family Animal Rescue,” said Trennepohl. “IACS staff and volunteers work hard day and night to care for and find the perfect placement for every animal that comes through our doors. This situation has been deeply disturbing for all involved, I want to ensure you that we are having conversations as to what we can do differently in the future to protect animals pulled from IACS.”

WRTV Investigates has called, emailed and messaged Fur Ever Family Animal Rescue on Facebook, and we have not been able to reach anyone for a response.

In a January 18 Facebook post, the rescue said “WE ARE CLOSED.”

Michigan City Police is asking anyone with information to please contact Det. Washluske at (219) 874-3221 Ext. 1081 or by email at swashluske@emichigancity.com.

The Michigan City Animal Control and Michigan City Code Enforcement teams are assisting in this investigation.

Animal advocates are raising money for training Steve, who will soon be going to Ruff House Adventures in Danville.