Hundreds of malnourished dogs rescued from Nye County property, breeders arrested for animal cruelty

Hundreds of malnourished dogs rescued from Nye County property, breeders arrested for animal cruelty
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office said Oksana Higgins and Vasili Platunov were arrested after being accused of felony animal abuse and neglect ([email protected] and Screenshot/Fox 5 Las Vegas)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: 300 dogs from a property in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, have been seized by the authorities, according to KTNV. The officials have described it as a "large-scale" animal cruelty situation. Detectives from Nye County Sheriff's Office (NCSO) obtained a search warrant for the property following an investigation and visited the location on Tuesday, August 23. Officials there arrested a couple Oskana Higgins and Vasili Platunov on felony animal abuse and neglect charges, the NCSO said. 

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Deputies remained on the scene throughout the night, continuing to examine the property for evidence as part of the investigation. Animal control officers and veterinary staff were also present on the scene in order to look after the 300 or so dogs. The NCSO expects that the investigation will continue for several more days and it is likely that the couple will face additional charges.

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Screenshot Fox10 TV
The sheriff’s office said additional charges may be filed against the couple based on the determination of any other conditions for the dogs while being treated by a veterinarian (Screenshot/Fox10 TV)

Platunov runs one of the few Caucasian shepherd dog breeding operations in the country, keeping dogs at the property in Amargosa Valley and another location, KTNV reported. Caucasian shepherds are large, livestock guardian dogs originating from the Caucasus region, which lies at the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia. 

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While the full details of this particular case are yet to be revealed, officials say more information will be released as soon as possible, a number of dog-breeding operations in the United States are characterized by poor animal welfare standards. The Humane Society estimates that there are around 10,000 currently active puppy mills in the country. These are inhumane, high-volume breeding operations that breed dogs for profit. Dogs in puppy mills are often sick, have not been socialized properly and their basic needs are often unmet. Mothers can spend their entire lives in cramped cages with little-to-no personal attention. When they are no longer able to breed, they are often abandoned or killed.

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Screenshot/Fox10TV
Officials said they found the dogs in poor conditions, and kennels had dirt floors and were lined along the property (Screenshot/Fox10TV)

In April this year, Nye County animal control officials rescued more than two dozen dogs from the property in Amargosa Valley, KTNV reported. Several of these dogs were malnourished, Desert Haven Animal Society executive director Beth Kakavulias, who helped with the rescue, told the same media outlet. Dogs that would normally weigh 150 to 200 pounds were found to weigh only around 55 to 60 pounds, Kakavulias said.

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According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Animal Control cited Platunov for care and conditions, and for cruelty, in recent months. Platunov told KTNV in June that he was worked with Caucasian shepherds for more than four decades and any allegations that the dogs in his breeding operation were not being looked after properly are "BS and fake."

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