POPLAR GROVE -- A Poplar Grove puppy breeder is under investigation after some reportedly healthy dogs turn up dead.
It's a first-of-its-kind case even for the state which deals with thousands of breeders.
When breeders breed dogs you can never guarantee that the dogs are not going end up in an animal shelter," said Jacqueline Mitzelfelt, Programs Director for Boone County Animal Services.
Mitzelfelt sees a lot of those dogs. But what happened to six dogs at a Poplar Grove breeder facility was far worse.
"Boone County Animal Control informed us that the beagles had been euthanized instead of moved to a facility with heat for the winter," said Jeff Squibbs, Illinois Department of Agriculture.
That action even surprised the state. The Illinois Department of Agriculture began investigating Christiansen Kennels back in October. They issued citations for the lack of heat in one building as well as some cracks in the floor. But officials say Christiansen seemed to be cooperating.
“The majority of dogs that were in the barn were moved to the other building on the premises,” said Squibb.
That is, except for six beagles, all of which are now dead. Officials can't say for sure whether the citations are what caused Christiansen to put the dogs down, but they don't believe it's because the dogs were physically ill.
"Each of the instances that our inspector has visited this facility the dogs there have appeared to be active and healthy,” Squibb said
We contacted owner Melton Christiansen and he declined to comment. But the damage may already be done in the eyes of the public. Someone started an online petition against Christiansen Kennels. Already, it has more more than 16 thousand signatures.
"We'll certainly be checking on the welfare of the other animals at the facility,” said Squibb. “And then as I mentioned, we'll also be talking to attorneys to determine, you know, how to proceed."