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RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Dozens of dogs were rescued and a man accusing of operating a puppy mill surrendered Thursday.

The dogs arrived safely at the Humane Society of Charlotte after being removed from three different homes in Rutherford County.

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s office made the disturbing discovery Monday after receiving several anonymous tips.

But when they returned with a warrant, most of the dogs were gone. Investigators learned the owner had moved them to other areas of the county.

The dogs seized from all locations included English bulldog, Yorkie, cocker spaniel, French bulldog and shih tzu breeds.

“We saw dogs that are going to need eye removal. We have major ear infections, skin infections. There were some dogs that were so matted were not even sure what kind of dog they are,” said Kim Alboum with North Carolina Humane Society.

Because of the dogs’ conditions, it may be weeks or months before they are adopted out.

The Humane Society of Charlotte provided veterinarians and volunteers to help with the animals, but the medical costs are expected to run in the thousands of dollars.

The Humane Society is hoping lawmakers will consider an amendment to the current budget that would regulate commercial dog breeders.

The Humane Society 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. Anyone wishing to report a tip is encouraged to call 1-877-MILL-TIP or submit a tip form. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Source: WSOC