- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015

RIPLEY, Miss. (AP) - Flea market owners in Northeast Mississippi deny their businesses have any known connections to puppy mills.

A report issued Wednesday by the Humane Society of the United States said an investigator with the group visited 21 different flea markets in 10 states - including three in north Mississippi (Ripley, Tupelo and Southaven) - that allowed vendors to sell puppies from so-called puppy mills.

Among the flea markets cited in the report was the First Monday Trade Day in Ripley, which has been run by Keith Thurmond since 1981.

Thurmond tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1QI9r04) he doesn’t know much about puppy mills.

“I don’t know much about puppy mills,” he said. “If they (HSUS) know who they were, they should shut them down. I’m not the law. They should arrest them if that’s what they are.

“Puppy mill people - I don’t know much about them, but I assume they’re trying to raise them and make money and they need to have an outlet. But I just know we’re getting blamed for that.”

Melanie Khan, a HSUS investigator, said she spoke to several attendees in Ripley who said animals were frequently abandoned if they weren’t sold at the market.

“This is an extreme problem in an area already with a high pet overpopulation and homelessness issue,” she said.

The Tupelo Flea Market also was mentioned in the report. Khan said the investigator “found people we have raided, people we have shut down with law enforcement and were convicted of animal cruelty selling there.”

Kevin Seddon, the president of the Tupelo Furniture Market, which oversees the monthly flea market, said all the vendors who sell pets at the market have done so “for a long time,” and said he never spoke to anyone from the Human Society of the United States. He also said there was not a puppy mill problem in Tupelo.

“We did have an incident last year in which we found out they were a puppy mill and we made them leave,” he said. “But that’s it.”

Seddon said that if the HSUS - or any organization for that matter - can link any of the vendors to a puppy mill operation, the vendor will be removed.

“One thing we do for any vendor is that we ask for a tax id, a business address, the person’s name and other contact information,” he said. “So if somebody is looking for you, we’ll be able to find you.”


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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