Rescuers Pull 295 Dogs From Arkansas Puppy Mill of Horrors

By on March 4, 2016 with 38 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

There’s no better evidence of our efforts to root out cruelty and exploitation than our operation yesterday at a miserable puppy mill in Madison County, Arkansas. In cooperation with local law enforcement, our Animal Rescue Team found hundreds of animals in extreme distress, many of them caked in mud and standing ankle-deep in feces.

Carcasses of dead dogs were strewn across the property, including a mummified puppy in a cage with a dead mouse. Some animals were so sick that they could barely move. There was a pug with a busted eye, and a puppy so malnourished that he was unable to properly use his front legs. A little poodle had a mat on his back as big as his body. A few dogs had nails so long they had curled back into their pads, undoubtedly causing them acute discomfort and pain.

The animals had no access to clean water and food. “It was a horrifying sight,” said Amanda Gossom of the HSUS Puppy Mills Campaign. “The animals were filthy, were in need of veterinary care, and had been living in unsanitary conditions. There were at least five dead dogs, and perhaps many more at serious risk of dying had we not arrived there to help.”

Altogether, our Animal Rescue Team, working with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and local animal organizations, removed 295 animals from the puppy mill. The owner surrendered to authorities and has been charged with two counts of animal cruelty. The dogs have been transported to a temporary emergency animal shelter where they will be thoroughly examined by veterinarians and receive any medical treatment necessary.

A dog undergoes a medical evaluation during the animal rescue operation at a puppy mill in Madison County, Arkansas.

A dog undergoes a medical evaluation during the animal rescue operation at a puppy mill in Madison County, Arkansas. Photo by Brandon Wade/AP Images for The HSUS

These dogs are now out of hell, but weak state laws on the inspection of such facilities have made Arkansas a hotbed for puppy mill breeders. This puppy mill sat in a remote area with practically no visibility from the road. Arkansas doesn’t license and inspect commercial dog breeders, allowing facilities like these to remain invisible even as they keep the animals in deplorable, cruel conditions. The dogs are then sold at flea markets or over the Internet to unsuspecting buyers who have no idea about the miserable backstory behind their acquisition of a pet.

USDA records show there are 127 licensed commercial dog breeding facilities in Arkansas. But there are certainly many additional unlicensed ones, like the operation we shuttered yesterday. We are glad we could be of help to these dogs, but there is a desperate need to tackle this problem at the root so animals do not suffer needlessly before an expensive and time-consuming intervention is needed. State Rep. Jim Sorvillo — who introduced a bill in Little Rock in 2015 that would require state inspectors to visit every dog breeding facility, helping them improve their standards of care before conditions deteriorate so horribly — has said he will bring that bill back in 2017. We know there is significant interest in its passage from leaders in the legislature and we hope they will see it through this time.

But it is ultimately we, as consumers, who can make the biggest difference by refusing to purchase a dog from a pet store or the Internet or a classified ad or at a flea market – all most likely sourced from puppy mills. If people stop buying dogs from these hellholes, dogs will no longer have to live in them.

P.S. Even as we were rescuing the dogs in Arkansas, we got some great news from Boston, where the city council voted to ban the retail sale of puppies from puppy mills in the city. Also yesterday, a New Jersey Senate committee advanced a groundbreaking bill to cut off means for puppy mills to sell dogs to the public.  We’ll continue with the policy efforts and the rescue efforts until we have helped the last dog suffering in these mills.

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  1. Beth says:

    What about the puppy mills in Omaha?

  2. Judy Wood says:

    Thank God for Wayne Pacelle and HSUS!! They are Saints on Earth!!

  3. evelyn millard says:

    Am so glad they were rescued they did nothing to deserve to be treated that ay Those who did it need to put under that same treatment and see how they would like it

  4. Tim says:

    Keep up the great work, these puppy mills are the root of all evil for these animals, left alone, feces, water, conditions beyond believe, thank you for rescuing these animals from the nightmare that they have endured for many years, continued success.

  5. louise geisler says:

    Hope all puppy mills close. ! But why do people treat these animals so bad? Feed them water them keep them clean. Love them. Let them out to run around. Why the cages? ?? So cruel…

    • jo says:

      the inhuman treatment of these beautiful animals,does make one wonder,how can you sell a dog looking at what the living conditions are in…as bad as i’ve ever seen….so unnecessary to be this cold hearted….in America..these conditions should absolutely NOT exist…Giving this breeder 2 minor citations is a joke…he should be jailed and all the others who do this…

    • lynn says:

      Care costs money, takes away from their bottom line. The more animals t be less care, the more bottom line. Simple math, equals diplorable conditions.

  6. Jeanine Garafola says:

    This just break my heart. These animals do not deserve to be treated this way. I hope the owner rots in prison!!

  7. Martina Meagher says:

    When will these dogs be ready for adoption and where at?Do they show a list of intake,like NDRM does when they are ready for adoption

  8. Avis Holt says:

    TWO counts of animal cruelty???? What does that mean? Shouldn’t it be at least 295 counts? These evil people should be put in prison and never be allowed to own another animal as long as they live!

  9. Marjory Dodd says:

    Do not understand why those who have the power to submit bills and advocate for the removal/periodic checks of puppy mills do not do it. No sales to pet shops.
    Shame on those that could help but do not.

  10. Maria Fowler says:

    All breeders should be shut down. Arkansas should be ashamed to let this kind of abuse continue. It is a disgrace. There are too many homeless, abandoned and abused animals to let this breeding continue. It is all about money. People are greedy and to lazy to get a real job, so they let the mama dogs do all the work and when they are too old to breed, they are thrown away like garbage. It is the breeders, legal or illegal, that are garbage, pure filth. Please shut them all down. the dogs don’t deserve to have to live this way.

  11. Michelle says:

    Why only two counts??

  12. Barbara Griffith says:

    Most of the southern states are like that there are no laws that actually protect animals. These people are free to do what ever they want to make money off of these animals no matter what the breed be it a dog, cat or livestock. Whats wrong is the state governments that don’t seem to care what happens to animals that is what needs to change unless you get politicians in office willing to do that pass laws that work and can be enforced nothing will change.

  13. Bonnie Bullock says:

    No, it’s not sad. It’s outrageous, disgusting, cruel, inhumane, and should be totally illegal with at least 295 charges of animal cruelty plus charges for every dead animal they are able to find. These people belong in jail, owe thousands and thousands of dollars, should lose everything of value they own and should NEVER be allowed to own any type of pet EVER. My heart breaks for each of these loving creatures and I pray they get all the medical help and love they deserve. Disgusting. Arkansas needs to change their laws drastically regarding this type of behavior as well as how people are fined, punished, or jailed for Any type of animal cruelty.

  14. Marcia Larocque says:

    God Bless all of you

  15. Cyndee says:

    how does this drag on so long undetected?
    I am sorry someone knew this was gong on and didn’t say anything ..SICK
    Give me 10 minutes alone with these puppy mill operators ..KARMA

  16. Claire says:

    Claire Hebert people will not stop buying a dog from ads, flea markets etc because of two reasons: usually less money and because they feel badly for the dog. If they are not purchased the torture continues. And what about pet stores? Totally cruel to have dogs in cage where people can smile and interact then walk away. Some can’t even stand or sit all the way because it’s too small an area. Disgusting

  17. Kerry says:

    TWO counts of animal cruelty?!?!?!?!? WTH???? Send these cruel hillbillies to prison!

  18. carol says:

    Cruelty? How about murder and something worse than cruel sadism.
    Whoever did this should not be allowed near any living creature. If the person states I was trying to make a living there are other recourse medicaid food stamps. Here’s a good one start a different business or get 1 to 2 jobs. No sympathy from me. As for the politicians they better get up and moving on these bills, perhaps a night in one of these places would wake them up

  19. Janice says:

    I truly hate these heartless pigs. Would that I could put them in the same conditions they put these poor creatures into, and let them die just like they let their animals.

  20. Kim Davis says:

    We’re can I go to adopt or take in ? I can provide vet care

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi, I am the editor of A Humane Nation. The Humane Society of Saline County has an adoption event from 12-4 on Saturday. Right now our vet services have been managed.

  21. Evelyn Lennon says:

    We must be their voice, because they have none. We must give them love,because they have none. These rescues are all that they have, and those who rescue them, are their saviors. I want to thank all of you for your love and care, that they so desperately need. This puppy mill business is deplorable, horrible, unthinkable and down right disgusting. I wish all those dogs all find a forever home. My love goes out to all of them.

  22. Ginger says:

    How do these horrible places exist. It is horrible. I wish I could have all these babies and give them love they deserve!!

    • jeredmcdougal says:

      But that doesn’t help. A person has only so many hours in a day. To give them the attention they deserve you can only have a few animals.

  23. Jamey Cromer says:

    How can one go forward and adopt a puppy? I live in Iowa, but would love to give a puppy a fur-ever home!

  24. Raz says:

    This happened in my state, what a disgrace. I’d like to find out their names. <3 My girl Wyatt was lucky enough to have a medical condition where she cannot have puppies, thus was disposed of on the streets by some vermin like these, before she found me.

  25. Cameron Brown says:

    “The owner surrendered to authorities and has been charged with two counts of animal cruelty.” He SHOULD be charged with 295 or more counts of animal cruelty

  26. DEBRA & BRIAN says:

    I was lucky enough to bring one of these dogs into my home. She is alot of work but you can tell she u s searching for love but so afraid of human contact. However this little girl has not only found a forever home but will never b in a cage again.

  27. Linda Tonn says:

    These millers have neighbors – someone knew what was going on and are guilty of turning away and doing nothing – there are many individuals that fall into this category. Each person ignoring what’s happening is part of the overall problem. I am so disgusted that there is so little oversight and millions of dogs suffer untold horrors until they die in deplorable conditions.

  28. Rosemary Gordon says:

    Joyce Johnson finally comes before the judge this Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2016.
    She was found to be clinically mentally competent to stand trial. Psychiatrist determined she knew the criminality of the abuse she was perpetrating against the over 300 dogs she kept, without food, water or medical care.

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