Laws and rules to protect animals in Maine are considered among the strongest in the nation, but we still see cases of cruelty and neglect. In fact, the state Animal Welfare Division gets more than 900 reports each year.The problem is, there aren’t enough people to enforce those rules, and so animals sometimes slip through the cracks. That was the case for Ranger.”Everyday it’s a miracle to see him do something new, exciting”Ranger has recently found a new home with Anita Buss, Maureen Connolly and their other standard poodles.For the first eight years of his life he lived at a breeding kennel in Newport. He was found at the facility last December by Barbara Skapa of Maine Poodle Rescue. She found him and the other dogs at the facility advertised, in what she considers the bible for puppy mills in Maine: Uncle Henry’s. The red flag, these standard poodle puppies, which normally would sell for over $1000 were going for only $250.”So we decided to go check it out with my friend here. We did find the situation there absolutely appalling, appalling.”The huskies are housed in the front, and the standard poodles are hidden from view out back. Barbara negotiated a deal with the owner of the facility, Carol Thibeault. Barbara would buy several puppies in exchange for getting a breeding dog for free. That turned out to be Ranger.She says, he was in bad condition.”We went to pick him up and put him in the truck. We took his collar off. It was so tight and so rusty that when we brought him to the vet the next day, he said his trachea is damaged, he can’t bark.””You could put your fingers into his spine and feel between his vertebraes when we went to pick him up which was quite disgusting”Vet records also show that Ranger was underweight, his ears were badly infected, he had severe dental disease that required several teeth to be extracted, and he had worms.Not to mention, Ranger has behavioral issues, that suggests he wasn’t around people very often. He’s very scared and isn’t social.”So how would you describe this facility in Newport? I guess borderline is how I describe it.”, says Christine Fraser, State Veterinarian.State Animal Welfare Officials say they’ve had this facility on the radar for years. In 2004, Thibeault turned over 50 dogs, and in 2007 surrendered another 15 to animal welfare. At last report she still had 17 dogs.Investigators have looked into several other complaints about the facility, including one prompted by the rescue of Ranger. They went back to the kennel last January where they did find a violation of a state rule. It was so cold in the kennels that water buckets were freezing. So state officials gave Thibeault a chance to correct the problem so the dogs could always have access to fresh water. They say she’s done so. But for animal lovers like Barbara and Anita, it’s difficult to understand why this facility can be the target of state investigations for so many years, and still be in business.State officials say their hands are tied. They say the kennel might not be pretty, but it meets all current standards.”The housing was adequate as to our standards as of this date. And she cares for them they have food, they have shelter. By law, she does what she needs, but it is always a concern about the degree of care they need. “We asked Carol Thibeault, the owner of the Newport Kennel for a comment. She declined.State officials say they are now working to improve the standards for kennels in the state.And even if they do, they might not have enough people to enforce the rules. We’ll have more on that in part two of our story.One note, there are reputable dog breeders that advertise in Uncle Henry’s as well, you just need to watch out for some red flags.