Hundreds of dogs saved from puppy mill

June 23, 2009 2:36:50 PM PDT
Officials are shutting down a puppy mill that's been in the news before.Nearly 300 dogs have a new "leash" on life thanks to the diligent efforts of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and The Humane Society of the United States, who came together to rescue the animals from horrific conditions at a Lehigh County puppy mill.

"These animals were subjected to years of constant confinement and denied loving human care and socialization. The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for enforcing the commonwealth's Dog Law and coming to the aid of man's best friend," said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The HSUS.

The HSUS was called in by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement to assist with this case. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement investigated the Almost Heaven kennels, and took permanent custody of all of the dogs due to the owner's failure to appeal his recent license delisting. Custody of the animals will be transferred to The HSUS once the dogs leave the property. The HSUS is providing animal handling assistance and overseeing sheltering and transport of the rescued animals.

When rescuers arrived at Almost Heaven they found a disturbing scene. The dogs, ranging in breed from Yorkies to Labradoodles, were suffering from a variety of medical ailments and housed in filthy conditions. Many of the dogs were emaciated, had severely matted fur and serious skin and eye infections. They were being housed in feces-ridden, wire cages inside small outdoor pens. It is likely that many of these animals had never known life outside their wire cages.

VIDEO: The October 2008 raid at Almost Heaven.

In October 2008, Almost Heaven was the site of what was believed to be the largest animal raid in Pennsylvania history. There were also spider monkeys, miniature ponies, cats, guinea pigs and various birds. About 700 animals were taken during the October 2008 raid.

SLIDES: Photos of the animals arriving in Philadelphia from Almost Heaven.

Rescuers are working to remove all of the animals and transport them to a nearby emergency shelter set up by The HSUS. Once at the shelter the dogs will be checked by a team of veterinarians and given any necessary immediate medical care. The HSUS and local volunteers will care for the animals while they recover at their temporary home. The dogs will soon be transported to rescue groups and humane societies throughout the region, where they will be made available for adoption.

This operation is made possible in part from funding provided to The HSUS by the Kenneth and Lillian Wilde Foundation, who created the Wilde Puppy Mill Task Force to rescue animals from abusive puppy mills.

The emergency shelter is located at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. Representatives from The HSUS and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will be available for interview at the emergency shelter after all of the dogs have been transported.

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