Today our Maddie's Fund Puppy Mill Task Force is on the ground in Tennessee, working with the Marshall County Sheriff's Office to rescue nearly 100 dogs from deplorable conditions at a puppy mill there. Melanie Kahn, the new director of our Stop Puppy Mills campaign, sent this dispatch from the scene:
When we arrived at the Zippity Do Da Tiny Pet Kennel in middle Tennessee early this morning, we were greeted by the sound of dozens of dogs barking. It was cold and windy after heavy rain last night, but several dogs were being kept in outdoor pens in the mud and near-freezing weather.
As we stepped inside the buildings where most of the dogs were being kept -- breeds such as King Charles cavalier spaniels, Yorkies and Chihuahuas -- what we found was grim but sadly typical for conditions at puppy mills.
In a dilapidated building that looks like it was once a chicken house, the dogs used for breeding were crowded into rabbit hutch kennels with wire floors. It was bitterly cold inside the building, and the roof was sagging and lined with empty dog food bags instead of proper insulation. Many of the dogs' paws were wounded from standing on the wire, most likely spending 24 hours a day in their cages.
The website of this facility claimed, "We Specialize in Healthy loving Family Pets. We take pride in the Babies we raise." But when we entered the adjacent building, it was bitterly cold and in such disrepair that we worried the floor might collapse under our feet. The smell of ammonia and piled-up feces was very strong.
Many of the dogs have severely matted and filthy fur, some so extensive that we couldn't even tell what breed of dog they might be. Some also bore signs of neglect such as abscesses or a missing paw.
But these dogs don't have to suffer from neglect and the cold any longer. We've removed these dogs from the puppy mill and we're transporting them to our temporary shelter nearby, where we'll provide them with clean food and water and have a veterinarian examine them. We also took in a cat who will find a warm, safe place to rest at the temporary shelter too.
Soon, we hope these animals will be on their way to the wonderful lives they deserve in new homes.