Saturday, November 7, 2009

Animal control seizes dozens of dogs from Roane puppy mill

Anthony Welsch

Roane County's Animal Shelter is at full capacity, following the seizure of nearly 30 dogs from a suspected puppy mill this week.

In a month, the number of seized animals could nearly triple.

"The inhumane confinement of the animals was just really the worst part," John Griffin, the Director of the shelter in Rockwood, said.

Late Wednesday night, authorities partially broke up a suspected puppy mill near Midtown in the county. Griffin expects the owner of the dogs to face six charges of animal cruelty and another half-dozen charges for not vaccinating dogs against rabies.

"I stand firm and believe that this is the first puppy mill in Roane County," Griffin said.

Thursday morning, 28 of the seized dogs sat in the county's shelter, most of them with mange after living in their own feces for most of their lives.

"Living in the feces, the water was dirty, the food was old," Griffin said.

More than those conditions, Griffin said the ammonia levels at the site were high enough to cause damage to the dogs' respiratory system. Many of the dogs were coughing and showing obvious signs of respiratory distress, Griffin said.

Pictures taken by investigators that went on the raid show 30-40 dogs living in buildings the size of boxcars, with large food dishes and water that, in some cases, had turned green.

In all, they estimate the owner had about 110 dogs. The county only seized 30, because they simply don't have any more room at their shelter. Finding the money for flea treatment and other veterinary costs is another major obstacle.

Some of the dogs have serious conditions like cataracts, broken jaws, open wounds, and even tumors.

After hearing of the case, Thursday afternoon, several groups came to give the dogs some much needed TLC.

"Someone who would do something like this to innocent animals who have no voices to protect themselves, to speak out for help, they don't need to ever own another animal again," Sherrie Farver with Little Paws Canine Rescue said..." More & video