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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

87 Chihuahuas rescued from filthy conditions;
help needed from hazardous materials workers

Eighty-seven Chihuahuas, who were living in so much of their own waste that a hazardous materials team had to be called in to help with cleanup and being "bred to the point where they simply fell over," have been rescued from a puppy mill in Florida.

The dogs - some malnourished or anemic and many were covered in fleas - were living in a one-bedroom home with a small, fenced yard in Youngstown that had cages covered with feces and urine stacked inside and outside, Bay County Animal Control Director Jim Crosby told MySetterSam.

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"The conditions that she (the breeder) was keeping them in were far below acceptable standards," Mr. Crosby said. "The odor was incredible... the feces and dried urine and soaked papers were incredible. Even her bed that she slept in had old and new feces on top of it."

Bay County Fire and Rescue's hazardous materials unit took ammonia readings inside the home of 30 parts per million, Mr. Crosby said. Exposure to more than 25 ppm is dangerous for animals, and humans should not be exposed to more than 30 or 35 ppm, Mr. Crosby said.

"She had too many animals for one person to reasonably care for," he said. "This is a high-volume, substandard commercial breeder, aka, a puppy mill."

Mr. Crosby described the woman as a breeder who was "cranking out dogs just for the purpose for making a buck.... Some of these dogs were being bred to the point where they simply fell over."

The Chihuahuas are doing reasonably well considering the conditions in which they were living, Mr. Crosby said. "Some of them have bounced back pretty well."

But many are confused and need to get accustomed to being around people and treated liked pets, he said. "Some of them are pretty spooky because they have never been anywhere expect for in this woman's house being bred over and over again."

Many have already been placed in homes, but adopters are getting careful guidance on caring for the dogs, Mr. Crosby said. "We're warning the new owners to keep them on leashes and treat them kindly and gentle until they get adjusted."

The adopters have been "stepping up to the plate," Mr. Crosby said. "People have been very understanding who have adopted them. They understand that they may have medical conditions and are willing to deal with them."

And Bay County Animal Control is providing ongoing support to adopters, Mr. Crosby said. "If these dogs don't work out...our contract requires them to bring them back to us. They can't just give them away. I believe we have a continuing responsibility for any dog we adopt out."

Bay County residents have reached out to help the dogs, Mr. Crosby said. "The community support in Bay County has just been tremendous. That makes my job a whole lot easier."

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