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Indiana German Shepherd breeders face more than 2 dozen animal cruelty charges

When Julia Gray learned the dogs were going to be seized, she allegedly made a comment that "it didn't matter, she would just find more dogs and continue breeding."

PUTNAM COUNTY, Indiana — The owners of a dog breeding business in Putnam County are facing more than two dozen animal cruelty charges after investigators found two dead dogs and 33 others that were severely malnourished on the owners' property. 

James Gray, 55, and his sister Julia Gray, 60, both of Brazil, are accused of keeping dogs in "deplorable conditions" at their German Shepherd breeding company Vom Greystone Guardians, located at 7501 South County Road 800 West. 

The investigation began Sept. 8, after Julia called animal control asking for help getting food for several dogs at the address. 

An animal control officer went to the address and found several malnourished dogs and, what documents describe as, a "severely emaciated dog" in a field on the property. That dog was taken to a veterinary clinic, where it had to be put down. 

Deputies served a search warrant at the business the next day. 

When they arrived, documents say, the first thing they noticed was a German Shepherd following James and Julia. 

A deputy took a picture of the dog, noting that it looked "severely emaciated with its rib bones clearly observable." The deputy also said the dog was covered in feces and flies were surrounding it. 

Credit: Putnam County Courts
A deputy took this picture of a severely emaciated dog that was following two breeders around as investigators searched their property on Sept. 9, 2022.

Deputies searched the property and came across a large shed at the end of the driveway. 

They heard dogs barking, opened the door and found 11 German Shepherds stacked on top of each other in small cages. The shed smelled like feces and urine, documents said. There was no food or water inside the cages. 

The dog closest to the entrance was dead in a cage. Documents say the dog was covered in flies, had rigor mortis set in and had already started to decompose. 

The rest of the dogs appeared "severely emaciated." 

Deputies called a veterinarian for help, who said three of the dogs were severely anemic and had a low chance of survivability. The veterinarian "immediately" took those dogs to his office for emergency care, documents said. 

Credit: Putnam County Courts
Deputies searched this shed on a breeder's property on Sept. 9, 2022. Inside they found 11 severely emaciated dogs and one that had died.

Documents also say Julia was "often times smiling and even laughing, as crews were attempting to care for the dogs." 

Deputies captured a photo of this that was included in court documents.

Credit: Putnam County Courts
Documents also say Julia was "often times smiling and even laughing, as crews were attempting to care for the dogs." Deputies captured a photo of this that was included in court documents.

Another shed was found at the beginning of the driveway. Dogs could be heard barking inside and deputies said the shed had no visible ventilation holes or windows. 

Deputies opened the shed and, again noticed the smell of feces and urine. It was also extremely hot inside the shed. Deputies said a thermostat inside the shed showed it was 96 degrees. 

There were five dogs inside the shed that were locked in small cages. They didn't have food or water and they were all malnourished, according to court documents. One of the dogs was a Rottweiler that was covered in urine. 

After searching that shed, deputies found an outdoor sleeping area for Julia or James. 

Inside there were more dogs, these ones were German Shepherd dogs and puppies. The animal control officer said those dogs were not on the property the day before the search. Investigators believe Julia and James brought them from their home in Brazil, Indiana, overnight or sometime in the early morning hours Sept. 9. 

There were also three more dogs in a minivan parked next to the sleeping quarters. 

The only dog on the property that wasn't severely malnourished was a blue heeler that Julia claimed was her service dog. 

Documents say deputies also found a third smaller shed that had various building supplies and furniture in it. James told investigators they were planning to convert it into a house for more dogs. 

Credit: Putnam County Courts
The Grays planned to convert this shed into another area to put dogs, documents said.

When Julia learned all of the dogs were going to be seized, documents say, she made a comment that "it didn't matter, she would just find more dogs and continue breeding." 

In total, there were 36 dogs on the property. Two of them died. Police seized 33 and left the blue heeler, noting it was the only dog that didn't appear malnourished or emaciated. 

At this point, investigators called for help from several agencies. The Reelsville Fire Department brought clean drinking water for the dogs because, documents say, there were several water troths at the facility but none of them had clean drinking water. 

The German Shepherd Dogs and Siberian Husky Rescue of Owen County took four of the German Shepherd puppies to its facility and the remaining 26 dogs were taken to Putnam County Animal Care and Control for temporary placement. 

According to the sheriff's office, the dogs that were seized will likely not be available for adoption anytime soon, but the department encouraged people to adopt other dogs and cats from a local animal shelter that desperately need homes.

Financial donations can be made through the Putnam County Animal Care and Control's Venmo account, and there is an Amazon page created to purchase food and supplies.

The sheriff's office said the funds collected will be evenly distributed "to ensure the dogs receive as much care as possible."

Those who are able to donate a kennel or who have questions about donations are asked to contact Tammy Eastham via email at putnamcoanimalcare@gmail.com.

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