A Lawrence County deputy faces a lawsuit from a dog breeder after the removal of 67 dogs

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A man running a dog breeding business in Ironton filed a lawsuit against a Lawrence County deputy claiming he did not give the breeder a fair notice before removing 67 of his dogs.

Gavel leaning against a row of law books
[Adobe Stock]
The breeder, Ruben Sprouse, is seeking over $5.6 million in compensation and the return of all his dogs, according to the lawsuit he filed earlier this month in federal court.

The lawsuit alleges Lawrence County deputy Jason Newman arrived at Sprouse’s home June 18, 2021, with a search warrant in the name of Sprouse’s son and told him it did not matter.

Newman then produced a paper and asked Spouse to sign it. Newman kept the top of the paper folded over and kept his hand on his firearm while threatening Sprouse he would take him to jail if he did not sign the paper, the lawsuit alleges.

Sprouse said he signed the paper not knowing what it stated.

A crew was then called and they began the removal of his dogs, according to the lawsuit.

When Sprouse asked what was going on, he was told the vet tech was not available and the dogs were going to be checked and later returned back to him in the evening, according to the lawsuit.

Sprouse said he called the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office when his dogs were not returned and was told the paper he signed was to release his dogs to the Lawrence County Humane Society.

The dogs were fostered out to numerous facilities and individuals, according to the lawsuit.

A week before Newman arrived at Spouse’s residence, two women had come to his home to purchase a beagle. While they were looking around, one of the women was taking pictures of the dogs without Sprouse’s permission, according to the lawsuit.

Sprouse said he sold three dogs to the women, one of them a stray that was roaming around his home but did not belong to him.

Sprouse later found out the women who came to his house were from a rescue shelter called Pitiful Paws Rescue, according to the lawsuit.

The women were allegedly sent by an animal rights activist who was with an organization called Friends of Lawrence County.

Sprouse alleges Newman conspired with the assistant prosecutor to file criminal charges in an attempt to keep his dogs away from him. The charges filed against Sprouse were dropped three months later.

The lawsuit alleges the president of the Lawrence County Humane Society did not make sure all the dogs where returned once the charges were dropped.

WOUB reached out to Newman and the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office multiple times for comment on the lawsuit but did not receive a response.

The Humane Society made a Facebook post on Sept. 30, 2021, stating all criminal charges had been dismissed and for everyone to return the dogs to Sprouse.

The post drew dozens of furious comments.

“This is a bunch if crap … shame on all involved in letting him walk,” one person wrote. “So if you neglect and abuse animals or children come one come all to Lawrence County where you can get by with it or just get a slap on the wrist.”

“Anyone who returns these dogs back … should be ashamed,” another person wrote. “No way would I return any of them if had them.”

“Wish I would have been one of the rescuers keeping one safe and healthy,” wrote another commenter. “I would rather go to jail then release any of them back to that man! I am at a loss of words at our justice system.”

Out of the 67 dogs that have been removed, only seven were returned to Sprouse, according to the lawsuit.

Sprouse said his reputation as a trainer and breeder he has built for 20 years has been tarnished.