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The HSUS Helps Rescue 52 Dogs from Texas Puppy Mill

The HSUS, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and Austin Animal Services team up to save animals

  • The Animal Rescue Team's Ashley Maceri comforts a rescued dog. Mark C. Greenberg

  • These little dogs will never act as puppy-making machines again. Mark C. Greenberg

  • Until the rescue, these poodles were doomed to spending their lives in a cage. Mark C. Greenberg

  • Many puppy mills warehouse dogs in rows of stacked cages. Mark C. Greenberg

  • These newborn puppies were saved in the nick of time. Mark C. Greenberg

The Humane Society of the United States' Animal Rescue Team was called in by the Lee County Sheriff's Office to assist in the rescue of 52 dogs from a Giddings, Texas, property.

The sheriff's office and veterinarians from Austin Animal Services, operated by the city of Austin, inspected the property and found dogs living in deplorable conditions and suffering from various injuries and illnesses.

"According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, this facility sold to unsuspecting customers and some of the puppies were extremely sick—no surprise, considering they were living in overwhelming filth," said Nicole Paquette, Texas senior state director for The HSUS.

She continued, "We thank the Lee County Sheriff's Office for investigating and Austin Animal Services for helping move these dogs to safety. Unfortunately, keeping dogs in small wire cages stacked on top of each other remains legal under the recently passed regulations in Texas. That is no way for an animal to live, and this case is a perfect example of why Texas puppy mill laws need to be stronger to protect animals."

"The condition in which these dogs were found is heartbreaking and inexcusable," said Abigail Smith, chief animal services officer for the city of Austin. "We were happy to step in and provide care for these animals in need."

Local law enforcement became concerned about this facility, called "Lit'l Bit of Heaven Puppies," when consumers lodged complaints about puppies dying of Parvo. When responders arrived on scene they found various small breeds including schnauzers, poodles, Maltese and Chihuahuas, many living in small wire enclosures littered with feces. Many of the dogs were severely matted, urine-stained and suffering from a variety of infections, dental disease, and medical issues common to animals living in unsanitary conditions.

The sheriff's office also indicated that the property owner was selling puppies to unsuspecting consumers from her home, over the Internet, and at flea markets.

Once safely removed from the property, the dogs were transported to the Austin Animal Center. The animals will be thoroughly examined by a team of veterinarians and receive any medical treatment needed before being considered for adoption or being placed in foster homes.

Last month, The HSUS joined with other animal welfare groups to voice its disappointment with the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation for ignoring the recommendations of its own appointed panel of experts and thousands of Texas residents in establishing standards for the care and housing for dogs and cats kept by large scale commercial breeders.

The Commission instead deferred to federal standards established by the Animal Welfare Act that are described as "minimal" even by the United States Department Agriculture. The commission voted to allow cages so small that the animals can barely turn around as well as allow the floor these animals stand on their entire lives to be 100 percent wire, which the groups believe will allow substandard breeding facilities known as "puppy mills" to continue to proliferate in Texas.

*Photos from the rescue are available from the media contact below.


Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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