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August 27, 2009

More Than 100 Dogs Rescued From Va. Puppy Mill

The Humane Society of the United States

Update:

Just days after The Humane Society of the United States and local authorities removed almost 100 dogs from deplorable conditions at "Oak Leaf Kennel" in Stuarts Draft, Va., an Augusta County General District Court judge barred the puppy mill owner, Kyle Brydge, from keeping or breeding companion animals for at least two years. Brydge had been selling the animals via classified ads. more »


More than 100 dogs have a new chance for happiness after rescuers with The Humane Society of the United States arrived near Staunton, Va., Aug. 21 to work with Augusta County Animal Control and the Virginia State Veterinarian's office to remove the animals from a deplorable puppy mill operation.

The removal of the dogs followed an inspection by local authorities with the assistance of The HSUS' Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force.

The rescued

The breeds rescued included Great Danes, Mastiffs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Yorkies, Poodles, and more. Many of the dogs were suffering from severe skin, eye and dental infections, and many were matted with feces. 

The operator of the facility surrendered the dogs to Augusta County Animal Control, which turned them over to the Augusta Regional SPCA. The HSUS assisted in removing the dogs, placing them in a temporary facility, caring for the dogs and helping the local SPCA to place them with several shelters and rescue groups to find new homes.

"Some of the mother dogs were in the worst shape," said Justin Scally, manager of the HSUS Task Force. "Their bellies were round with pregnancy, but the rest of their bodies were just skin and bones. All of the dogs were frightened and surrounded by a stench that can only come from years of sitting in their own wastes. We were honored to be allowed to help with this rescue."

Some dogs who were in need of immediate veterinary attention were transported to an emergency veterinary clinic for care overnight, while the Augusta Valley Veterinary Hospital and the Augusta Regional SPCA sheltered the less critical cases temporarily with help from The HSUS.

New homes for survivors

After assisting in the removal, evidence taking and emergency care of the animals, The HSUS contacted partnering shelters and rescue groups to take in the dogs for further care and eventual placement in new homes.

In addition to the Augusta Regional SPCA, other organizations that answered the call to help included the SPCA of Anne Arundel County in Maryland, the Norfolk SPCA, and the Richmond SPCA in Virginia, and the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) in Washington, DC. The shelters will evaluate the dogs, address their medical and health needs, spay and neuter each animal, and place them up for adoption.

Help from unexpected places

On their way home from picking up the dogs at the emergency shelter, the Norfolk SPCA in Virginia's vehicle was stalled by an air conditioning problem that required immediate repair for the comfort of the animals. Fortunately Staunton's Merchant Tire and Auto Center agreed to perform the repair immediately for only the cost of the part.

Due to their assistance, the Norfolk SPCA's dogs and crew got back on the road quickly and arrived home safely. A cadre of staff and volunteers stayed up late Saturday night in the shelter to welcome the van and care for the 25 rescued dogs, several of whom were pregnant.

"The pups were processed, given names, then vetted, bathed, fed, loved and tucked in for the night," said Suzy Swims, the shelter's operations manager. "We left the shelter at 10 p.m. [Saturday night] and were back at 6 a.m. [Sunday]. They are doing wonderful."

Special delivery

One dog who especially caught the hearts and attention of HSUS staffers was an emaciated Great Dane who was also pregnant. The Dane was in such poor condition upon rescue that she required an overnight stay at a local emergency veterinary clinic. After she was stabilized and cleared for transport, HSUS staffers arranged to drive her to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County in the back seat of a staffer's personal vehicle, so that two HSUS staff in the car could watch her condition at all times.

Four hours later, Annette Davis, rescue coordinator for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County in Annapolis, Md., welcomed the Great Dane with open arms and a box of dog treats. After sampling the treats, the expectant mother perked up measurably, a glimmer of hope appearing in her eyes for the first time all weekend. 

"We'll make sure she puts on some much needed weight before the demands of motherhood set in," said Davis. "After all her puppies are weaned, she will be spayed and prepared for a loving new home."

About the task force

The HSUS' Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force, which participated in this action, investigates and assists law enforcement agencies across the country with case development and rescue of animals from puppy mills. It is named for a couple, Kenneth and Lillian Wilde, who left their estate to The HSUS with the goal of helping dogs.

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