On July 3, rescuers stepped in to save 132 dogs, including newborn puppies, and four birds from deplorable conditions at a puppy mill in Page County, Virginia, in an effort that was dubbed Operation Liberty Dogs.
The rescue was carried out by the Animal Rescue Corp (ARC), which assisted the Page County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control after receiving a tip about neglected animals it turned over to law enforcement. ARC describes the heartbreaking conditions these animals were found in:
The dogs, the majority of whom were underweight, were suffering from severe eye and ear infections, significant fur loss and matting, urine-soaked fur, skin issues, and extreme internal and external parasites, such as fleas. Additionally, three parrots and a cockatiel were found living in similar conditions, their cages and food bowls also covered in feces. All animals lacked adequate living conditions, socialization, and veterinary care.
You can see a video of the rescue below, but be warned that there are some disturbing images:
“Animals have been suffering from various untreated illnesses on this property for an extended period of time. The conditions were very typical of a puppy mill where animals are treated as nothing more than breeding machines,” said ARC President Scotlund Haisley. “A lot of suffering ended here today and I commend Page County Sheriff’s Office, Animal Control, and County Attorney for acting quickly and working with Animal Rescue Corps to save these lives.”
After caring for the animals they rescued at an emergency shelter, this week the organization announced that all the animals they pulled out are on their way to shelter and foster-based partners in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and Canada where they’ll get the physical and emotional care they need so they can go on to be adopted into forever homes.
It’s unfathomable how anyone could look at those dogs every day, see them in that condition and do nothing, or that anyone would actually need to be told that’s not okay, but it continues to happen at large-scale commercial breeders around the country because we’re still buying puppies that come from places like this.
Hopefully, seeing the reality of puppy mills and the faces of the adorable puppies being sold who are lucky enough to be rescued in operations like these will help push the message to adopt from a rescue or shelter, or to work with a reputable breeder, instead of buying dogs from pet stores or via the Internet. Even when people say breeders are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it doesn’t mean much when it comes to ensuring quality care for parent animals or the health and temperament of the dogs being sold.
ARC is now urging people who want to help by fostering or adopting one of these dogs to contact its partner organizations directly, but also notes that while some of these dogs won’t be available for a while, there are still many others waiting there who are ready to go their forever homes. Could you help?
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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