Couple Arrested in Puppy Mill Operation in Fauquier County, Authorities Say

An anonymous tipster lead police in Virginia to a heartbreaking bust.

Police seized 80 dogs from a suspected puppy mill in Fauquier County.

The dogs are all safe and recovering now, but police say the married couple who ran the puppy mill are charged with felonies. Barton Mannes Gipstein, 75, and Vernine Barbara Gipstein, 69, of Midland, have been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty, authorities said.

Police went to the house after getting an anonymous tip from someone who had come into contact with the facility and was shown a dog to purchase. The person told authorities that the dog was noticeably not well-cared-for and had fleas, the Fauquier County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff's office said the dogs were living in filth, with multiple dogs crammed into crates barely big enough for one.

"I would say, horrible conditions," Sgt. James Hartman of the Fauquier County Sheriff Office said.

Police said when they went to the Folly Court house Wednesday, the female suspect sat down in the driveway and tried to block Animal Control from getting to the dogs.

Fauquier County SPCA Executive Director Devon Settle couldn't believe what she saw.

"It's pretty excruciating, when you're not law enforcement and you're an animal person, that animals could be kept that way," she said.

Settle said her animal shelter is now full to capacity. One dog was in surgery Thursday, and Settle said all of them had fleas.

"You can see, some of them have puppies. They're much calmer and doing much better today than they were yesterday," she said Thursday.

However, they are still skittish, something Settle said was a result of being in a puppy mill.

One neighbor said he had no idea there was a puppy mill was in his neighborhood.

"I had seen them in their yard; I hadn't seen that many of them," said the neighbor. He said he was surprised to hear there were 80 of them.

All of the dogs are expected to recover, but the Fauquier County SPCA says a lot of people have asked what they can do. They have posted information on their Facebook page on how people can help.

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