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January 14, 2020

“Puppy mill” operators enter “no contest” pleas

Vernine Barbara Gipstein, 69, and Barton Mannes Gipstein, 75, had 81 Wheaton Terriers — many in poor condition — at their kennel near Midland that sheriff’s deputies raided Sept. 11.
Photo/Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office
Some of the dogs seized from the Gipsteins’ property in September.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
The elderly couple who operated a “puppy mill” near Midland that sheriff’s deputies raided in September pleaded “no contest” to felony animal cruelty charges Tuesday in Fauquier County Circuit Court.

Barton Mannes Gipstein, 75, and his wife Vernine Barbara Gipstein, 69, face potential five-year prison terms when sentenced Monday, March 23.

“Do you understand it will be treated the same as a guilty plea, and you will be found guilty?” Judge Lon E. Farris asked each defendant in separate hearings Tuesday morning.

Both Gipsteins said they understand.

Each faces one charge as a “person who tortures, willfully inflicts inhumane injury or pain not connected with bona fide scientific or medical experimentation . . . .”

Fauquier County Animal Control deputies on Sept. 11 seized 81 dogs from the couples’ Folly Court home of Vernine Barbara Gipstein and Barton Mannes Gipstein.

The Gipsteins waived preliminary hearings Nov. 13 in general district court. That sent their cases to circuit court, where a grand jury indicted both of them Nov. 25.

The commonwealth’s attorney also dropped a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge against Ms. Gipstein in Fauquier County General District Court in November.

In addition to the 81 Wheaten Terriers seized in September, female dogs from the kennel gave birth to another 24, Fauquier SPCA Executive Director Devon Settle said outside the courtroom Tuesday.

The SPCA has placed all but a handful of the terriers in adoptive homes, Ms. Settle added. But, a few of the seized dogs had to be euthanized because of health or behavioral issues.

Warrenton attorney Brooke Howard represents Ms. Gipstein. Robin C. Gulick represents Mr. Gipstein.

Ms. Gipstein remains free on a $3,000 unsecured bond; Mr. Gipstein remains free on a $2,500 unsecured bond.

Responding to questions from Judge Farris on Tuesday, Mr. Gipstein said he has a law degree and Ms. Gipstein said she completed three years of college.

Sheriff’s deputies on Sept. 11 executed a search warrant at the Gipstiens’ home “after receiving an anonymous tip” and seized “a large number of dogs in poor condition,” Sgt. James Hartman said in a press release at the time.
The tip came “from someone who had come into contact with the facility,” Sgt. Hartman added. “The person was shown a dog to purchase and alleged the dog was noticeably not well cared for and had fleas. The information alleged the facility was breeding and dealing in Wheaten Terriers.” 
While Ms. Gipstein, who owns the kennel, “would not grant full access to the property to determine the welfare of the dogs,” Sgt. Hartman said, “deputies observed numerous dogs and other things that led them to believe the dogs were not being properly cared for. The investigation also determined the facility was not properly licensed. 
“Deputies returned to the property a few days later at an agreed-upon time to further the investigation. When they arrived, they encountered Gipstein blocking the driveway. During the investigation Gipstein was unable to produce proper paperwork she allegedly had regarding the dogs and facility.” 
Animal Control Deputy Marisa Efaw continued to investigate and obtained a search warrant, executed that afternoon.

“Deputies discovered many dogs in poor condition, in extremely unsanitary conditions and most had no access to water,” Sgt. Hartman said. “Eighty dogs were seized as a result of the search warrant.  Many of the terriers were in poor health with matted, tangled fur. One terrier was found to have an exposed femur on one leg.” 
Deputies took the dogs to the Fauquier SPCA shelter near Casanova.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

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No to northam · January 15, 2020 at 11:39 am
These filthy scum should not be out on bond ..lock em up, and gas them.
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