Bradley Walters works inside business park in Bloomington for a distributor specializing in wares for home and garden shows. About nine months ago, a new operation moved into the vacant space beside Walters' employer.
He never caught the proprietor's name. In fact, over all that time, Walters never once heard the woman offer it up. But she did mention once in passing she was in the animal rescue business.
But something seemed off. Just weeks after the rescue started operating on the other side of the cinder block wall, Walters recalls seeing the owner "maybe once every week and a half to two weeks." In all those months, he only once saw a dog being walked, and for only about 50 feet.
The only activity seemed to be the occasional arrival of a minivan, picking up some dogs and dropping off more.
"That's when I thought, 'What's going on here?'" Walters says. "I hear dogs barking, why are they not being taken out? Why are you in a business district where there's no parks where these dogs can be taken out? What's going on? So I questioned her about it."
Walters would ask these questions of Bethany Beilby, president of the charity Luv Me Again Animal Rescue, on a half-dozen occasions.
"I would ask her, 'Why don't you come over and smell my warehouse?' If it smells this bad here, I can't imagine how bad it smells in your place.
"If she didn't completely ignore me, she would say she was operating well within city ordinance. She had all her legal documentation and was on the up and up. But the smell got worse and I knew there was no way this was on the up and up."
It was "the smell of death" that forced his hand. He called Humane Society investigator Keith Streff, who instructed Walters to contact Bloomington Animal Control. City authorities arrived within 20 minutes. They fast realized they were overmatched by a situation well out-of-hand. It was a scene of a whole lot of bad and sad, says Streff.
There were 37 dogs "that were all in these small cages and just covered in crap and urine and there was just not water availble to them. You could tell she was tending to them, well, let's just say intermittently. They were living in deplorable conditions. It looked like she was just warehousing them."
Beilby's Luv Me Again doesn't resemble a rescue in any way, shape, or form, says Streff. He ventures to guess it looks more like a dog flipping operation.
Dog flipping is the receiving of a dog under the guise of finding it a good home, as in the case of a rescue. But instead, the person resells the dog for a profit.
"This is pure supposition on my part, but she certainly isn't doing it in a manner that's consistent with most animal welfare rescue organizations. These animals are supposed to be coming out of environments like this one, not going into them. That's the whole purpose for rescues.
"So if you have 30 or 40 of them in a dark building and can warehouse them there for a long enough time so you can sell them for $250 each at Petsmart on the weekend, you do the math."
Walters couldn't agree more.
"She was a dog hoarder and it looks like she had them just to try to profit off of them," he says. "I mean, in the last six months, there hasn't been one single dog out here on a leash being walked. How can you say you're rescuing animals when you're not properly taking care of them?"
Bloomington Police and Humane Society officials confiscated all 37 animals and transported them to the society's Golden Valley facility. That's where they'll stay as the criminal investigation moves forward.
Beilby was arrested on probable cause of animal neglect. Streff expects charges to be filed sometime in the coming weeks.
Beilby did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment. Nor did she appear at her Bloomington home Thursday when a reporter attempted to interview her in person.
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