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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

43 starving dogs rescued from puppy mill,
but 14 are too sick to survive the ordeal

Forty-three dogs - dehydrated and nearly starved from being crammed into waste-covered kennels with no food and water - have been rescued from a puppy mill in Mississippi, but 14 were in such bad physical and emotional shape from the ordeal that they had to be euthanized to end their suffering.

The dogs - Teacup and Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Basset Hounds, Bichons, Chihuahuas, Feist, Miniature Schnauzers, Corgis and a Shih Tzu/Papillon mix - are also suffering from eye and ear infections, parasites, dental problems, dermatitis, corneal scars and ulcers, heart murmurs, broken and dislocated bones and severe fur matting from being soaked in urine and feces, according to animal welfare officials.

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Officials from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, along a response team from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, seized the dogs from the owner of the property in Bay Springs, Mississippi.

The ASPCA - with assistance from Tailwaggers for Life, Healthy Happy Pet Adoptions, Mississippi Fighting Animal Cruelty Together and the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society - set up a temporary shelter to provide emergency veterinary treatment for the dogs.

“Animal cruelty is unacceptable, and we are doing everything we can to lend our support to this critical operation," Matt Bershadker, an official with the ASPCA's anti-cruelty team, states in a media release. “This includes collecting evidence for possible prosecution of the criminal case as well as providing for the animals’ immediate needs on-scene, such as feeding, watering and making sure all animals are checked by veterinarians.”

Rescuers were unable to save some of the dogs, according to Gail Brown, a member of the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society's board of directors, and 14 had to be put to sleep to end their long-term physical and emotional suffering.

"Because of the severity and age of a couple (14-plus years), [they] were humanely euthanized," Ms. Brown told Love of Dogs. "Additionally, 12 displayed severe aggression either against other dogs or people and had to be humanely euthanized."

The failure to be able to save all the dogs can be emotionally overwhelming on animal welfare workers, Ms. Brown said. "There are many tears shed for those whose lives cannot be saved as you want them all to have a life free of abuse and neglect."

Rescue workers also must deal with outrage and sorry from caring for the surviving dogs and seeing "what the owners have put these babies through," Ms. Brown said.

One dog put to sleep was a female poodle (above in photo from the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society). "This poor little girl was deformed," Ms. Brown said. She was missing part of her leg, had severely matted fur and many other health issues.

Some of the dogs were well enough to be adopted immediately, but others - like Spring (a Shih Tzu female above in before and after photos from the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society) - will need more care, Ms. Brown said.

Spring's fur was so matted from being covered in waste that she had to be shaved. "She was terrified and had to be sedated to be groomed," Ms. Brown said. "How she has blossomed and is just so sweet and loves to be cuddled.

Dogs that will need long-term care and rehabilitation will be sent o foster homes, Ms. Brown said. "Most of those that need rehabbing are done by our foster families in the home. It takes time, patience, and love to get them available for adoption. It is truly amazing how many of these dogs in these situations come out and crave being loved and are easily brought into a family life."

Dogs like Baccus, top left, a male Pomeranian, and Butterfly, bottom left, a female Cocker Spaniel, have been getting some extra care.

"This little guy's hair was so matted with urine and feces that you could not even separate the hairs," Ms. Brown said about Baccus.

And Butterfly is being treated for severe ear mites and mange. "She has a very sweet and loving personality," Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown believes most people would refuse to buy a dog from a puppy mill if they knew how horribly the dogs are treated. "If most people who purchased from these puppy mills actually saw the conditions of where and how these pups were born, they would definitely not buy from these types of breeders."

Before purchasing a dog from a breeder, Ms. Brown urges people to ask to view the area where the dogs are kept. "Typically a sign that a breeder does not take care of the breeder dogs is they will not allow you to see the adult dogs, view the areas the dogs are kept, and many times, want to meet you somewhere other than where the dogs are kept."

Ms. Brown recommends those who want a pet consider adopting from animal welfare organizations. "There are thousands of wonderful full breed and mix breeds in shelters all over the country," she said. "Adoption from your local shelters will help eliminate these horrific puppy mills and put them out of business."

The rehabilitation process is expensive, because many dogs coming from puppy mills have heartworm and severe dental problems, which are expensive to treat, Ms. Brown said. "Funding for them is from donations received from the public," she said.

Most viewed reports about dogs and rescue:

1. 108 dogs rescued from filthy, rat-infested puppy mill
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5. One of nation's 'worst' puppy mills busted
6. Dogs in emotional shock after ordeal in tiny, filthy cages
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Starving rescued dogs only had rotting food to eat
Waste-covered pets seized; rescuers wear masks

Those interested in adoption or making a donation to help with the care of the dogs should visit the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society.

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