WARREN CO., Tenn. – Nearly 125 dogs and five birds were rescued Tuesday from an alleged puppy mill in Warren County, approximately 75 miles southeast of Nashville.
The dogs, some of whom had recently given birth, were found to be living in deplorable conditions and lacked veterinary care.
Rescue workers said the animals were severely matted and found living in crowded enclosures encrusted with feces and urine.
They were suffering from starvation and many had untreated illnesses.
In at least one cage, a dog was found living among the remains of two dead dogs. Seven dogs in all were found dead.
"Absolutely horrendous conditions," Scotlund Haisley, president of Animal Rescue Corps, told Nashville's News 2.
He continued, "Dogs [were] living in chicken wire crates, outside in all weather conditions. Many of them never having seen a vet in their lives, [there's] extreme matting. A lot of them had burn, puppy burn paws, due to the urine. Living in their own urine and feces turns into an acid. We've got some emaciated dogs here but you know, they're all safe now."
The animals were rescued after a tip that led to a three-week investigation.
"I went in as a potential buyer into her house," Animal Rescue Corps' Tennessee Liaison Peg Petrelli told Nashville's News 2. "Upon first sight there it was evident and clear we had a large scale animal situation."
She continued, "It's very difficult to see animals living in these conditions. It is what drives us to continue to do our work is getting these animals out."
Actress Elaine Hendrix is a founding officer of ARC. The Tennessee native said the dogs will take time to rehabilitate before they can be put up for adoption.
"They are dying for attention. They are clamoring to be held and to be touched," she said.
All of the animals were seized by the Warren County Sheriff's Office with a warrant issued by the Warren County District Attorney's Office. They were transported to an emergency shelter set up at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville Tuesday night.
There, each animal will receive the proper veterinary care until a custody hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday.
According to the ARC, puppy mills are all too common in rural areas and it's the mothers of the dogs that suffer most.
"It's these nursing mothers, these breeding mothers that live in these tiny wire cages their entire lives, you know, never having had the opportunity to be a dog," Haisley said. "Today, we've made them a promise that they'll get the chance to be a dog for the very first time in their lives."
It wasn't immediately clear what charges, if any, would be filed against the owner of the dogs.
The Animal Rescue Corps initiated the investigation, assisted with the seizure, and will be taking over temporary care of the animals. The entire operation could cost them more than $100,000.
If the rescue corps wins custody of the animals at next week's hearing, set for Tuesday, April 5, the dogs will be turned over to partner shelters, rescue groups and foster networks. Adoptions will follow.
The organization is in need of monetary and physical donations, such as food and blankets.
Thursday, August 28 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-28 19:28:07 GMT
Fifteen children were removed from a home in Woodruff andseveral adults who were responsible for their care have been arrested.The Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit worked the case Tuesday at a home on Hunter Road.More >>
Fifteen children were removed from a home in Woodruff andseveral adults who were responsible for their care have been arrested.The Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit worked the case Tuesday at a home on Hunter Road. More >>