The Humane Society of the United States was among the multiple agencies and volunteers responding after 247 dogs were found on one property in Bradley County.
After the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office last week discovered the dogs on the property "in appalling conditions," SPCA of Bradley County began working to remove the dogs to safety. The HSUS Animal Rescue Team arrived on Sunday to assist with removing the remaining 101 dogs.
HSUS officials said, "The SPCA of Bradley County found a variety of small-breed dogs living in small, filthy cages and suffering from a multitude of untreated medical conditions, including skin and eye infections and dental disease."
The operator of the "puppy mill" agreed to surrender the dogs and has been charged with one count of animal cruelty.
Leighann Lassiter, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said, “It is heartbreaking that all of these dogs were suffering without the basic care or socialization they need. We are glad that we were able to assist when the SPCA of Bradley County called for help. Now these dogs have the chance to find the loving homes they deserve.”
Betti Gravelle, president of the board of directors of the SPCA of Bradley County, “We were overwhelmed with the number of animals and the amount of care they would need, but when we reached out for help, The Humane Society of the United States immediately responded. This case is an example of how national organizations can help us in our local work to help animals. We are also thankful for RedRover and PetSmart Charities for their help. Now all these dogs are safe and on their way to better lives.”
HSUS officials said, "Tennessee’s state law to protect dogs like these is set to expire at the end of the month because the Senate Agriculture Committee voted against extending the Commercial Breeder Act, which provides state oversight of mass-breeding kennels. Without a law to require licensing and minimum standards of care, dogs in puppy mills will continue to suffer. The HSUS urges lawmakers to put the law back in place during the 2015 legislative session."
The HSUS transported the dogs to a temporary emergency shelter where they will be thoroughly examined by teams of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical treatment.
PetSmart Charities is providing the necessary food, supplies, and enrichment items for the dogs. Volunteers with RedRover are assisting with caring for the dogs at the temporary shelter. This rescue was made possible in part because of the generosity of Friends of Finn, a next generation committee of The HSUS dedicated to raising funds and awareness to combat puppy mills.
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 valid tip are encouraged to call 1-877-MILL-TIP and will remain anonymous.