03/21/2012 03:02 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2012

Washington Animal Rescue League Takes In Puppy Mill Survivors (PHOTOS)

WASHINGTON -- 39 mostly small-breed dogs rescued from a Kentucky puppy mill arrived at the Washington Animal Rescue League on Tuesday.

The owner of the puppy mill, Patricia Blevins, pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one count of kennel violation in early March. She surrendered more than 100 dogs to the ASPCA -- some of these dogs later gave birth while in the care of the rescue group.

The dogs have now been moved to four shelters, including WARL.

WARL's president, Dr. Gary Weitzman, told WAMU that the dogs have "been through hell."

"Many have been in hog crates, chicken wire crates, they've never touched the ground, they've never been petted, and in most cases have never had medical care."

But that will change, starting now, Weitzman added. First, the dogs were evaluated, vaccinated, and given a quick bath in a yellowish disinfectant that smells a lot like sulfur. As trying as this might be for all involved, Weitzman said getting the animals physically conditioned and healthy enough for adoption is just part of the challenge.

"…But even harder, in a lot of cases, is to get animals who have never been a pet to learn how to be that," he said. "So we have about 10 trainers and behaviorists that work one-on-one with these dogs to get them to learn how to be dogs again."

Pam Townsend, a spokesperson for WARL, told The Huffington Post that WARL's Medical Center staff has just started evaluating the dogs and things are looking promising.

"So far, it appears that the dogs are in pretty good condition, thanks to the excellent care the ASPCA gave them over the last couple of months," Townsend wrote in an email.

Some of the dogs may be available for adoption as soon as the end of this week.

PHOTOS of WARL's rescued pups: