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The HSUS Helps Rescue 74 Dogs from Miss. Puppy Mill

Saving lives with the Stone County Sheriff’s Office, Humane Society of Southern Mississippi, and Southern Pines Animal Shelter

At the request of Stone County (Miss.) Sheriff's Office, The Humane Society of the United States' Animal Rescue Team and two area humane organizations helped rescue 74 small-breed dogs from a property in Wiggins.

The sheriff's office served a search and seizure warrant on the property and found that the dogs were being housed in filthy and inadequate conditions. Dogs were being kept inside the home in small crates and outside in shoddy makeshift shelters. They were covered in animal feces and roaches.

The owner surrendered all but one of the dogs to the sheriff's office.

The unregulated puppy trade

Local law enforcement became concerned about this facility when the owner was discovered at flea markets in Mississippi and Alabama selling puppies who were lethargic and filthy. When responders arrived at the seller’s property, they found dogs suffering from eye infections, broken limbs, mange, and various other medical ailments. Most were also not socialized and did not have access to proper food and water. The breeds included Yorkies, poodles, Chihuahuas, Chinese cresteds, and shih tzus.

Please act now to help other dogs suffering neglect in puppy mills »

"These dogs won't have to spend one more night living in such deplorable conditions. The Humane Society of the United States thanks the Stone County Sheriff's Office for working with us and the other animal rescue groups to help remove these animals and hopefully find them loving new homes," said Lydia Sattler, Mississippi state director for The HSUS.

Sattler pointed out, "Purchasing dogs from flea markets is just promoting and encouraging the unregulated trade in puppies and dogs who live in these kinds of conditions. Being able to see where your dog comes from is important when buying a puppy, and adopting is always the best way to help save animals' lives."

"The dogs were living in horrendous conditions, and the owner wasn't properly taking care of them. It doesn't appear that she's ever taken them to the vet," said Phyllis Olds, chief deputy of the Stone County Sheriff's Office. "If we hadn't gotten these dogs when we did, we would have ended up with a lot of dead dogs. I'm thankful to the animal protection organizations that helped us rescue these animals."

The need for standards of humane care

This operation occurred six days before the deadline for the public to comment on a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect many currently unlicensed puppy mills. Under current regulations, many commercial puppy producers can avoid complying with even the most basic humane care standards. To submit a comment, go to humanesociety.org/usdapuppymills.

  • A sheriff's deputy noted that the dogs had apparently never seen a veterinarian. Chuck Cook

  • Some of the dogs had recently given birth, so the rescue included very small puppies. Chuck Cook

  • More than one dog suffered from serious skin conditions. Chuck Cook

  • The rescue continued in spite of intermittent rain. Chuck Cook

The dogs have been safely transported by The HSUS to the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi in Gulfport and Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg. Once at the shelters, they will be thoroughly examined by a team of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical treatment.

The HSUS is grateful for the donations that made this rescue possible. Those donors are Arthur Benjamin, James Berwind, Thomas Brodsky, Amanda Hearst, Michael Katz, and Andrew Nibley.

B-roll of the rescue is available for media download.

Media contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org