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The HSUS Applauds Prosecutors for Cruelty Charges Against Owner of Puppy Mill

The Humane Society of the United States

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. — The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, applauds District Attorney Branny Vickery for filing criminal animal cruelty charges against Virginia Thornton, owner of Thornton's Kennels. These charges stem from allegations that Thornton neglected dogs kept on her Mount Olive, N.C. property.

"We thank prosecutors for pursuing charges in this disturbing cruelty case," said Amanda Arrington, North Carolina state director for The HSUS. "Hundreds of dogs have already been given a better life, and the case sends a message that dogs should be treated like family pets, not like a cash crop."

Thornton was charged with 12 counts of criminal animal cruelty. Wayne County Animal Control called in The HSUS to assist with a February raid of the property. The HSUS acted as the lead animal welfare organization in this rescue, overseeing the removal of 283 dogs from the mass breeding facility.

Rescuers found dogs at Thornton's puppy mill confined to small wire cages. Many were suffering from embedded chain collars, painful untreated eye and dental infections, and severely matted coats encrusted with fecal matter, among other conditions.

Humane organizations across the country have since taken in the rescued dogs. Most of the animals have already found new, loving homes. The HSUS is now working with state officials to create new legislation in North Carolina to crack down on puppy mills like Thornton's Kennels. 

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.