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80 dogs saved from suspected puppy mill in Fauquier County

According to officials, many of the terriers were in poor health with matted, tangled fur. One was found to have an exposed femur on its leg.
Credit: Fauquier County Sheriff's Office

FAUQUIER COUNTY, Va. — Eighty dogs were seized from a suspected puppy mill in Fauquier County, the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office said.

According to officials, Animal Control deputies received an anonymous tip from someone who had come into contact with the facility. The person was shown a dog to purchase, and said the dog was noticeably not well cared for and had fleas. The anonymous tip said the facility was breeding Wheaten Terriers.

Animal Control deputies responded to the suspected puppy mill on Folly Court, in the Tower Hill Road area of the county. Officers talked to an owner of the facility, identified as Vernine Gipstein. According to officials, Gipstein wouldn't grant complete access to the property to determine the welfare of the dogs. 

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The deputies saw many dogs and "other things that led them to believe the dogs were not being properly cared for," officials said. The investigation also determined the facility wasn't licensed properly.

Officials said deputies returned to the property a few days later at an agreed-upon time to continue the investigation. When they got there, they encountered "Gipstein blocking the driveway." During the investigation, Gipstein was unable to produce correct paperwork she said she had regarding the dogs and facility.

Animal Control Deputy Marisa Efaw conduced a further investigation and obtained a search warrant for the suspected puppy mill, officials said.

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Deputies executed the search warrant on Wednesday and found many dogs in "poor condition, in extremely unsanitary conditions and most had no access to water," officials said. Eighty dogs were seized as a result of the warrant. 

Officials said many of the terriers were in poor health with matted and tangled fur. One was found to have an exposed femur on its leg.

The 80 dogs were taken to the Fauquier County Animal Control facility, located at the SPCA, where they're being vetted and cared for. 

Gipstein, 69, of Midland, is charged with one count of felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. She was released on a $3000 unsecured bond. Barton Gipstein, 75, of Midland, is also charged with one count of felony animal cruelty. He was released on a $2500 unsecured bond.

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