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Washington Animal Rescue League Provides Refuge to 83 Dogs, 6 Cats Seized from Arkansas Puppy Mill
October 09, 2009
(October 9, 2009) Washington, DC – The Washington Animal Rescue League (the League) is providing refuge to 83 small breed dogs and 6 cats seized from a Lamar, Arkansas puppy mill. Officials from the Johnson County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Department and the Humane Society of the United States conducted a raid on the property after citizens tipped them off about the animals’ horrendous living conditions.
The dogs were living in cramped wire cages stacked floor to ceiling in rundown trailers. The cages were soiled with feces, urine, and moldy food. When removing the dogs, rescuers had to wear respirators because of the choking stench in the trailers. One dog, too weak to stand, had to be cut loose from the cage after its fur became hopelessly enmeshed in the bars. The six cats were also in cages, but their cages were outdoors on a porch.
The animals were removed on Tuesday, October 6, to a temporary emergency shelter staffed by volunteers. Veterinarians called in to examine the dogs found numerous medical problems stemming from long-term neglect: emaciation, skin and eye infections, acute dental disease, parasite infections, and severely dirty and matted fur.
On Thursday, October 8, the rescuing authorities, who are planning criminal proceedings against the owners of the property, finally got legal custody of the animals, and they began making their 18–hour journey to the League in Washington, D.C. The dogs arrived at the League at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, October 9.
With its full-service Medical Center, uniquely supportive environment, and specially trained staff, the League is frequently called upon to house, treat, rehabilitate, and find homes for the survivors of puppy mills from states across the eastern U.S.
“We are always eager to help victims like these dogs,” Dr. Gary Weitzman, the League’s president and CEO, points out, “We have the resources to turn these dogs’ lives around, though it takes a lot of concentrated effort, time, and money. Dogs from puppy mills have invariably suffered prolonged, gross neglect, and they are among the neediest animals a shelter will ever be called upon to help. But we feel we are well qualified to undertake the work, and ultimately, we find it extremely rewarding.”
Prior to adoption, all of the animals will receive a full veterinary evaluation at the League’s Medical Center. The center will treat any problems they find and spay or neuter each pet. They will also be bathed and groomed, helped with socialization issues, and temperament assessments will be conducted to ensure the dogs’ compatibility with the adoptive homes. Lastly, the adopters will be counseled about the needs of the animals and offering training in meeting these special needs.
The League estimates that the first of these dogs may become available for adoption as early as Thursday, October 15. However, adoption staff cautions that some of the dogs’ recovery periods may be long and they may no be available as of that date.
“These dogs are not for everyone,” counsels Mary Jarvis, chief operating officer. “Since they have never experienced anything close to life as a normal pet, some will be very fearful. Housetraining can be a real challenge—the dogs have never so much as set foot outside. But if someone has the time and perseverance to deal with their special issues, it can be very satisfying to give one of these dogs their first-ever home.”
The League’s certified dog trainer is offering a special class on adopting puppy mill dogs on Friday, October 16, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.