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May 28, 2009

Wash. Puppy Mill Dogs Relinquished by Owner

Dogs to Go to Selected Shelters

The Humane Society of the United States

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Nearly 400 dogs rescued from a Kennewick, Wash. puppy mill were relinquished Thursday, enabling The Humane Society of the United States to reach out to selected shelters and rescue groups to take in the miniature American Eskimo dogs.

Ella Stewart, owner and operator of Sun Valley Kennel, has not been charged in connection with the Benton County Sheriff's Office's seizure of her animals Wednesday. She was charged in early May with one count of second-degree animal cruelty, prompting the continued investigation. Prosecutors are considering additional charges. Stewart surrendered the animals to the Sheriff's Office Wednesday, and Sheriff Larry Taylor is working with the Benton County Prosecutor's Office to transfer custody of the animals, who can then be placed up for adoption. Meanwhile, The HSUS staffers, local veterinarians and other animal welfare workers continue to care for the dogs at the temporary shelter at Benton County Fairgrounds.

"It has taken more than 60 people two days to provide basic, essential care for these animals. The sooner they can be placed up for adoption, and placed into loving homes, the sooner they'll be able to start a new life," said Dan Paul, The HSUS' Washington state director.

A list of shelters taking the dogs will be posted on The HSUS' Web site at humanesociety.org.

Caring for these dogs takes a host of people. The Humane Society of the United States, assisted by United Animal Nations and Spokane Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team (HEART) and SpokAnimal CARE, worked throughout the day Thursday to care for the animals.

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 natural disasters. 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.

  • 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 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.
  • 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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