IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — More than 60 dogs were rescued from a suspected Iredell County puppy mill.
Field Operations Supervisor Teri Somnitz with Iredell County Animal Services visited the scene and became concerned about the welfare of the dogs.
Iredell County Animal Control called in The Humane Society of the United States, Guilford County Animal Shelter and Iredell County Humane Society, to assist with the rescue and removal of the dogs.
The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on the property and found poodles and Maltese dogs and puppies living in deplorable conditions. Their fur was extremely matted and they were suffering from a multitude of untreated medical conditions. They were living in stacked, rabbit hutch-like cages that are unsafe and were inflicting cuts and other injuries. The owner agreed to surrender the animals.
Kim Alboum, North Carolina state director for The HSUS, said, “For far too long, dogs have been suffering like this in puppy mills across the North Carolina. This rescue, along with the 16 other we’ve assisted with in the past three years, demonstrates the need for stronger laws in North Carolina. We’re so grateful to Iredell County Animal Control for coming to the aid of these dogs.”
There are no specific North Carolina laws to protect dogs sold directly to the public or online by commercial breeding facilities. Law enforcement officers, therefore, are unable to prevent neglect until it reaches crisis proportions. As a result, North Carolina has become a haven for some of the worst puppy mill operators in the country. This is the 17th rescue that The HSUS has assisted with in North Carolina since June 2011.
Brad Gates, animal services director for Iredell County Animal Services, said, “I am normally against removing animals from the owner if any other reasonable options are available. However, like in this instance, lesser efforts have failed and sometimes we need to use whatever legal means necessary to move animals into a safer and healthier environment, whether I like it or not, that is the case here.”
The groups have safely transported the dogs to the Iredell County Animal Shelter and Guilford County Animal Shelter where they will be thoroughly examined by teams of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical treatment.
The HSUS has established a reward program to offer up to $5,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a puppy mill operator for animal cruelty. Persons wishing to report a tip are encouraged to call 1-877-MILL-TIP and will remain anonymous.