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People Power: Choosing a New Path

After assisting with a major puppy mill raid, a longtime sheriff plans to switch to animal control

In his long and varied career in law enforcement, Larry Taylor has dealt with some of the ugliest situations imaginable. He’s worked homicides, sex crimes, and drug enforcement during his 34 years as a cop, the last 12 of which he’s spent as the elected sheriff of Benton County in southeastern Washington state.

But Taylor says he’d never seen anything like what he witnessed in Kennewick, Wash., in May 2009, when he took part in a raid that rescued 371 miniature American Eskimo dogs from a puppy mill. He saw dogs kept in shopping carts, and puppies confined to old apple crates half full of dirt and feces. Cages had no protection from the elements; in some cases, they held more than one dog and were so small that some dogs’ flesh was growing into the wiring, Taylor recalls.

When he stuck his hand into one of the cages, the puppies clung to his arm “like flies clinging to a no-pest strip. … They had their front paws wrapped around my arm, clinging to my arm with a death grip and whining, while their little tails were wiggling like a propeller with joy. When I pulled my arm out of the cage, I literally had to shake the puppies off my arm; they definitely did not want to let go. The impression that was clear to me was they were finally rescued from the horror that they had been living in.” Taylor says the experience absolutely tore him apart.

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