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‘Puppies in distress’ call sparks an arrest

Delivery driver faces cruelty case

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By Michaela Stanelun
Globe Correspondent / July 10, 2009
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A Missouri truck driver is facing a charge of animal cruelty in Webster after his truck was discovered carrying puppies in deplorable conditions, authorities said.

Webster police say John Clayton, 44, of Bolivar, Mo., had 51 puppies in the back of his box truck in small cages and was delivering them to pet stores Wednesday.

Chief Timothy Bent said officials got a tip around 2:45 p.m. about the puppies.

“The caller said she saw puppies being delivered to a store in a box van and heard puppies barking in the van,’’ Bent said.

Police officers searched the truck and found “puppies in distress,’’ he said.

Clayton was arrested and arraigned yesterday in Dudley District Court on one count of animal cruelty and was held on $1,000 cash bail, authorities said. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20.

The 27 puppies not delivered to pet stores are being cared for by the Animal Rescue League of Boston in an undisclosed facility.

Jennifer Wooliscroft, director of communications for the Animal Rescue League, said that the puppies were weak and dehydrated and that the condition of the vehicle transporting them was “substandard.’’

“There was improper sanitation in the truck and a strong smell,’’ Wooliscroft said.

She said the Animal Rescue League would care for the dogs during the legal proceedings. It was unclear when or whether they would be available for adoption.