WARNING: Some people may find the information and images in this post disturbing.
Rescuers from the Greater Birmingham Humane Society (GBHS) were shocked and appalled when they entered a home in Trussville, Alabama on July 2.
Thanks to a tip called in by a concerned citizen, they discovered a makeshift puppy mill with 83 dogs and puppies living in “heart-wrenching” conditions.
“Many of the animals, some of which are in the late stages of pregnancy, were crammed two to three in a wire cage. Dogs were together in stacked, inadequate, wire-bottom cages and crates caked in excrement and filth. Most of the dogs are suffering from abscessed teeth and gum infections, along with other illnesses,” GBHS said in statement.
Once liberated from the unsanitary conditions, the dogs were examined, vaccinated, and treated for parasites by veterinarians and support staff at the GBHS facility.
The dogs vary in age, with some of the puppies born just days before the raid. All are small breeds, including Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Boston terriers, Yorkies, Pekingese and Shih Tzus.
According to rescuers, the longer-haired dogs were so matted, volunteer groomers had no choice but to shave them down. Beneath the caked filth, many are suffering from skin infections due to “standing in urine and feces for extended periods of time.”
Despite their ordeal, the dogs have already begun to heal both inside and out. Courtney Underwood, the director of marketing and outreach for GBHS told PEOPLE:
“I watched as they got to run around in the grass and bask in the sun. They got cuddled and kissed and carried around like infants.”
All 83 of the dogs will receive the grooming, veterinary care, and love they need until they are ready to be put up for adoption. In the mean time, the pregnant mamas will give birth away from their filthy crates, and all of the dogs will learn the joys of freedom.
Since the owners of the home voluntarily surrendered the dogs and agreed to pay a $25 fee per animal, they will not face criminal charges unless they fail to make good on the fees.
GBHS hopes this case will help raise awareness about the reality of backyard breeding and help garner support for a new bill to protect against puppy mills.
“A puppy mill can be right next door to you,” Allison Black Cornelius, Chief Executive Officer of GBHS, said in a statement. “In your neighbor’s backyard, basement or garage. When they are busted it is the nonprofit shelters and tax payers that foot the bill. A puppy mill is any breeder that puts profit over the animal’s health and well-being.”
For now, the dogs’ rescuers are staying positive and looking towards the future.
“I’m no longer going to mourn the life that they have missed, I’m going to be proud to be a part of what’s next,” Underwood said.
Those interested in fostering one or more of the rescued dogs should contact GBHS. If you are interested in giving a pup a permanent home, follow the shelter on Facebook for updates on when they will be ready for adoption.
H/T to PEOPLE
Featured Images via Facebook/Greater Birmingham Humane Society