Authorities are investigating claims by animal rescue groups that a kennel near the eastern Iowa town of Wyoming is mistreating its dogs. A Jones County Sheriff’s deputy says they’ve conducted animal welfare checks at the Thunder Ridge Dog Kennel in the past but they’ve never resulted in charges.

A formal, written complain led to a nearly six hour search warrant Monday. Sonia Brandley of Last Hope Animal Rescue Group says she believes many of the dogs are dehydrated and have tooth problems and skin conditions.

“You can see it in my face, it’s breaking me up to be here doing this and it’s not because I’m psycho or crazy, it’s because we love animals,” Brandley told KCRG-TV. Thunder Ridge Dog Kennel owner Harold Buzz Powell says he never mistreats his animals and the rescue groups are unfairly targeting him.

“They think every kennel is a puppy mill. Not all kennels are puppy mills. We strive to keep our kennel clean and our dogs are well taken care of,” Powell said. Thunder Ridge is a U-S-D-A-licensed kennel. Powell says he’s been breeding dogs for 13 years and has never received a citation from the federal government. Despite his arguing, officials let rescue groups take more than 30 dogs to another location, while authorities decide whether to file charges. Brandley admits the rescue groups could be fighting a costly battle.

“We may have to give (the dogs) back if the court deems that and all that cost falls on the rescue groups,” Brandley said. Powell says two of the four types of dogs he breeds are known to have skin conditions. He admits some of the dogs need minor dental work, but believes all of his dogs will be returned.

“The dogs will be returned because there is no neglect, the dogs are well fed, well taken care of and well groomed,” Powell said. The Jones County Attorney will review a veterinarian’s report and decide whether to file charges. Since Thunder Ridge is a U.S.D.A.-licensed kennel, a representative from the federal government was also there Monday.

By Claire Kellett, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids