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13WHAM Investigation: Animal Cruelty Case
by Patrice Walsh
Some people who bought puppies from Nathan Stephens said they werent surprised when they heard about animal abuse allegations.
Stephens is charged with animal cruelty for allegedly leaving three lab puppies in a filthy crate locked in a hot car at Eastview Mall Monday afternoon. The temperatures that day were in the 70s outside but authorities said inside the car, it was as hot as 140 degrees and the puppies were inside for more than two hours.
Sierra Harmon said she and her boyfriend bought a chocolate lab puppy from Stephens a year ago. She admits there were red flags but said they fell in love with the puppy and went ahead with the deal. She said when they got the puppy home they realized she had worms, fleas and was under-weight.
She said she tried to contact Harmon but never heard from him again. He also never sent paperwork confirming the puppy was a pure-bred lab. She also said he was selling the puppies out of a box and possibly, out of his car. All signs that something wasnt right, Harmon admits.
Her dog Eillie is fine now and healthy but Harmon said she doesnt want to see this happen to anyone else.
She called the Ontario County Humane Society after hearing about the story on 13 WHAM. She told us: No puppy should have to go through that, it broke my heart to see what she came to us likeI hope he is stopped definitely.
Investigators tell us they are trying to track down where the labs are being bred. Police said Stephens said at first that the puppies werent his and that he was selling them for somebody. But he has surrendered them to authorities.
He remains in the Ontario County Jail. We have also heard from people who called Stephens to ask about puppies for sale in an ad he placed on-line.
Anne Yanno said she talked to Stephens but never bought a puppy because she said he couldnt answer her questions about where the dogs were bred. He also told her more than once that the puppies werent his and he was selling them for a friend to make extra money.
After seeing the story on 13WHAM, Anne said she was relieved she didnt buy a puppy from him. She said she feels bad for the animals who cannot speak for themselves.
The Ontario County Humane Society asks that anyone who had contact with Stephens contact them so they can continue the investigation.
The three puppies, who were rescued Monday, will be seen by a veterinarian and will be placed for adoption at some point. Chief Bill McGuigan said there has been so much interest from people who want to adopt them that they will have to figure out a fair way to find good homes for the puppies.