Authorities rescued dogs from a puppy mill in the United States an average of every four and a half days in 2011, for a total of 81. That’s a record number since I’ve been keeping track.
You can interpret all the activity in one of two ways: A) the public is finally waking up to the epidemic of substandard kennels in this country, or B) that puppy mills continue to operate unabated. Maybe a little of both.
Here’s what took place the last three months of the year:
– In Oroville, Calif., officials cited a breeder for neglect after finding 19 pit bulls and 19 puppies at his house near Forbestown. The dogs were unvaccinated and tied up, and the kennel was unlicensed.
– The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals filed more than a dozen criminal and civil charges against a North Carolina woman for selling diseased puppies and dogs to buyers who thought they were adopting rescued dogs. Jessica Isenhour’s “Saving Fur Kids” was hiding behind the animal rescue effott to operate a for-profit puppy mill, said Rick Yocum, head of the NJSPCA.
– An animal rescue group in York, Pa., appealed to dog lovers to save 15 to 20 Havanese, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mixes and Shih-Tzus after their owner announced plans to close the puppy mill they lived in and euthanize the animals.
– Rescuers moved more than 100 dogs from a mobile home in Rowan County, N.C., some in such bad shape that it was difficult to tell what breed they were.
– In Merriam, Kansas, 14 Maltese puppies, Yorkies, Schauzers and Pomeranians were rescued from a breeder who closed shop. The dogs were socialized, but had severely rotted teeth, had suffered from a poor diet and lacked routine medical care.
– In Washington state, officials seized 100 dogs from two houses, including some owned by a woman who has judged American Kennel Club shows. Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and other dogs were found in bad health and in extremely dirty crates at one of the houses. At least a dozen of the dogs had to be euthanized.
– In Hot Springs, Ark., the ASPCA rescued close to 175 dachshunds, West Highland terriers, Boston terriers and Chihuahuas suffering from skin conditions, fleas and severe neglect. The owner, Pat Thomas, was charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty.
– In Cloquet, Minn., 34 Yorkies, miniature pinschers and dachshunds were removed from the inside of a house and from a tool shed the size of a bathroom, where the dogs were kept in filthy cages stacked on top of one another.
– Sixty-four dogs rescued from puppy mills in Antlers, Okla., were trucked to the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, N.Y., to begin new lives.
– In Greenburgh, N.Y., 16 to 20 Italian mastiffs died when the shed they were being kept in caught fire. Authorities had forced the breeder to shut down in 2006 and were unaware that he had started selling dogs again.
– In Henry County, Ky., officials investing an anonymous tip found nearly 120 Brittany spaniels, black labs, chocolate labs and other dogs living in three sheds piled with feces, absent food or water. Authorities also found nine horses 30 cats, rabbits, gerbils, a hybrid wolf and an owl; rescuers had to wear hazmat suits to remove the animals.
– More than 140 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill in rural Denton County, Texas. Feces was built up so high that it was rotting the animals’ skin. The dogs had infected nail beds, missing hair and their paws were scalded by urine.
– In Mabank, Texas, the local SPCA found two dead dogs and 47 others in a state of neglect at a property near downtown.
– Police seized 21 malnourished and injured dogs who had apparently been used for dog-fighting at a breeder’s house in Winter Haven, Fla. The dogs had scars, scratches, scabs and bite marks.
– Authorities found more than a dozen purebred dogs malnourished and living in filth at the home of a nationally recognized German Shepherd breeder in Stratford, Connecticut. Dogs were stacked in crates throughout the house with no bedding or water. A story about the bust noted that on the wall above the cages hung certificates and awards the breeder, Dawn Marie Pieger, had received for dog handling.
– A Greenwood, S.C., woman was charged with neglect after her children told authorities their mother made them clean the pens of hundreds of dogs when they came home from school, and whipped them for not working fast enough. Sheriff’s deputies described the smell in the house as almost unbearable.
– In Oklahoma City, Okla., more than 70 dogs suffering from hernias, eye infections, bad teeth and malnutrition were taken from a puppy mill.
– Authorities rescued 28 dogs from horrific conditions at a kennel outside Apache Junction, Az. The dogs were crammed six or more to a crate, were soaked with urine and had only contaminated water, no food.
– Near downtown De Leon, Texas, the SPCA took 14 Chihuahuas living amidst feces, cowebs, roaches, trash and other forms of filth.
Also in December, following an NBC Miami investigation, a Cooper City, Fla., company was charged with secretly selling puppy mill dogs instead of dogs from top quality dealers, as it claimed. The lawsuit against Purebred Breeders was filed on behalf of 11 customers and in cooperation with the Humane Society of the United States after customers reported the puppies they had purchased online became sick upon arrival and sometimes died. The business is said to sell more than 16,00 dogs a year supplied from 2,000 breeders, especially at Christmas, when prices could jump to $4,000 a dog.