Exclusive: KIMA goes undercover in federal puppy mill investigation

Exclusive: KIMA goes undercover in federal puppy mill investigation »Play Video
WENAS, Wash. -- Investigators say a Wenas property is home base to an illegal operation, selling puppies all over the world.

KIMA has followed the county and federal investigation in this case for nearly two years.

Many of you have responded, concerned for the helpless dogs-- some that appear to be sick-- being sold like cargo.

KIMA investigated to try to find answers and some justice in this case.

KIMA first visited Tom and Sharon Beatty back in 2012. They didn't talk to use then and they still won't now.

Yakima County prosecutors believe the Beattys are illegally breeding dogs on their rural property. Pictures show some dogs previously taken from their home in questionable condition. They have swollen eyes and their nails are overgrown.

The Beatty's don't have a kennel or a business license. Yakima County believes the couple is selling dogs illegally, but can't prove it.
They don't have enough probable cause to get onto the property.

KIMA wanted to find out exactly what the Beatty's are up to, so we went undercover.

Posing as a customer, our producer met Sharon Beatty in a parking lot. Beatty denies running a kennel, but when she didn't know she was meeting a reporter, she was quick to dish about all the puppies she's got.

She told our producer about a litter of Poodles, Papillons and Chihuahuas that were available.

Sharon Beatty told Action News she sold the dogs to people in different states and even Canada. Prosecutors say that would be a federal offense.

KIMA asked Yakima County Prosecutor, Paul McIlrath, why they can't shut down the Beatty's operation given there is so much evidence suggesting they are running an illegal kennel.

"Because we operate under a rule of law and whatever public opinion is isn't sufficient to send the state agencies into people's privacy and their property," McIlrath said.

McIlrath admits he worries about the condition of the animals. But, without proof of abuse there's no way to get a warrant.

Believe it or not, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office was on the Beatty property yet again just weeks ago. The report indicates Sharon Beatty would not let them in her house but admitted to having over 50 dogs. But, there was no sign of animal abuse and no arrests could be made.

Once again, the Beattys have no business license to sell dogs. And they have no kennel license to have multiple dogs. Even if they did, over 50 animals would not be allowed.

Yakima now plans to use the Sheriff's report in its attempt to get a criminal warrant.

Until then, prosecutors can only wait and wonder exactly what is happening in Wenas.

To be fair KIMA reached out to the Beatty's several times, asking for their side.

They called authorities and said we were not allowed near their property.

Federal officials are also investigating the Beatty's.