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June 20, 2012

The HSUS Applauds West Virginia Law Enforcement for Investigation of Suspected Puppy Mill

Spurred by The HSUS’ Investigation, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Seizes 132 Dogs

The Humane Society of the United States praises Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office for investigating a suspected puppy mill, or large-scale, inhumane, commercial breeding facility, at 64 Slate Lane in Falling Waters and rescuing 132 dogs after HSUS investigators supplied information about mistreatment of animals at the residence.

The HSUS received a complaint about sick puppies being sold from the property, which was linked to ads on Craigslist, and sent investigators to visit the property. A person at the residence brought puppies outside and refused to let the investigators see the parents of the puppies. With the door open, the HSUS investigators observed feces on the floor and multiple dogs with feces on them roaming in the house. A foul odor was noticeable from the outside even with the door to the house closed.

Some of the dogs found by sheriff’s officers Tuesday were dehydrated and underweight. A puppy recently acquired from the owners by HSUS investigators was found in deplorable condition: he had fleas, matted fur with feces, scabs on his abdomen, was underweight and dehydrated, and suffered from intestinal parasites.

Responding to numerous complaints about the property, including information provided by investigators with The HSUS, officers conducted a search of the property Tuesday and rescued the dogs. The animals are now being housed at the county’s animal control unit. The case is under investigation and charges are pending against the dogs’ owners, according to the Sheriff’s office.

“The Humane Society of the United States applauds law enforcement officials for this investigation, and we look forward to working with them further,” said Summer Wyatt, West Virginia state director for The HSUS. “This case and other recent incidents in which breeding dogs were found in horrific conditions demonstrate that we need stronger laws to improve regulation of breeders to combat the scourge of puppy mills in West Virginia.”

The original complaint was received via The HSUS’s online complaint form at humanesociety.org/puppymillstory. Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office at 304-267-7000 or 304-267-4999.

Puppy Mill Facts:

  • West Virginia has no statewide laws to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule that would require large-scale, commercial puppy producers who sell pets to consumers over the Internet, by mail, or by phone to be regularly inspected and abide by the same basic standards of care as producers who sell to pet stores. The proposed rule remains open for public comments through July 16.
  • The HSUS estimates that 2 to 4 million puppy mill puppies are sold each year in the U.S, many at pet stores or through online advertisements.
  • Documented puppy mill conditions include over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor food and shelter, crowded cages and lack of socialization.
  • Dogs kept for breeding in puppy mills suffer for years in continual confinement. They are bred as often as possible and then destroyed or discarded once they can no longer produce puppies.
  • Pet stores and online sellers often use attractive websites to hide the truth and to dupe consumers into thinking that they are dealing with a small, reputable breeder.
  • Puppy mills contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, which results in millions of unwanted dogs euthanized at shelters every year.

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Media Contact: Rebecca Basu: rbasu@humanesociety.org, 240-753-4875

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