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May 27, 2009

The HSUS Assists with Seizure of About 400 Dogs at Wash. Puppy Mill

The Humane Society of the United States

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Humane Society of the United States assisted the Benton County Sheriff's Office today with the seizure of hundreds of dogs from a puppy mill here.

Prosecutors are considering charges in connection with the seizure of the dogs. Ella Stewart, who was recently charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, is the owner and operator of Sun Valley Kennel. The dogs — all miniature American Eskimos — lived in deplorable conditions: some were confined to shopping carts, while others spun circles in rusty pens caked with feces. The smell of hot urine emanated from the property, which was lined with pens and more makeshift cages created with plywood and rusty metal doors. Some of the dogs suffered from malnutrition, urine burns and overgrown nails.

"None of these dogs have felt the security of solid ground beneath them nor the comfort of a loving home," said Dan Paul, The HSUS' Washington state director. "Cases like this illustrate the exact reason why enacting legislation like S.B. 5651 is so critical. One person cannot reasonably take care of this many animals, period."

S.B. 5651, recently signed into law by Gov. Christine Gregoire, will crack down on puppy mills by putting a cap on the number of dogs these facilities can keep and by establishing some basic animal welfare standards. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2010.

The Humane Society of the United States, assisted by United Animal Nations and Spokane Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team (HEART), worked throughout the day to assess, examine and catalogue the animals. The dogs will be taken to a temporary shelter under The HSUS' care.

The HSUS' Emergency Services division assists with puppy mill raids throughout the country, in addition to helping law enforcement with other animal cruelty raids, including hoarding situations and animal fighting rings. This operation is made possible in part from funding provided to The HSUS by Kenneth and Lillian Wilde, who created the Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force to rescue animals from abusive puppy mills. PetSmart Charities donated shelter supplies, and local veterinarians and technicians provided their time and services.

Facts

  • Breeding dogs at puppy mills must endure constant breeding cycles and are typically confined to a puppy mill for years on end, without ever becoming part of a family.
  • There is little regard for the breeding dog's health or any existing genetic conditions that may be passed on to the puppies.
  • Dogs at puppy mills typically receive little to no medical care, live in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction and are confined inside cramped wire cages for life.
  • Puppies from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and directly to consumers with little to no regard for the dog's health, genetic history or future welfare.
  • Breeding dogs are also subjected to dog auctions where puppy mill owners buy and sell dogs for breeding. Puppy millers dump dogs they no longer want, and other mass dog producers come looking for a deal. These dogs are auctioned off like used cars with little or no regard for their health and well-being. A typical dog auction sells at least 250 dogs.
  • Consumers should never buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site; instead visit an animal shelter or screen a breeder's facility in person.

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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.

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