PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Dozens of dogs and other animals were seized from a home in Willard Wednesday morning, according to law enforcement.
Workers with the Pender County Sheriff's Office Animal Control division, along with four other agencies, responded to reports of a sick puppy at a home in the 8400 block of US Highway 11.
According to the Humane Society, more than 100 animals were rescued from the home. Deputies found large and small breed dogs and puppies being kept inside wire chicken coops in an outdoor breezeway.
In addition to the dogs, authorities found 60 chickens and three cows on the property.
Three veterinarians were called in to assess the conditions of the animals, which suffered a range of untreated medical conditions, like eye infections, ear infections and overall malnourishment. Many of the animals were also covered in feces.
The dogs were living in chicken coop-like and cement structures, and were soaking when from the rain when found.
Authorities were tipped off by a person who recently bought a sick puppy from the home.
"It is heartbreaking to see these dogs in such poor condition – no animal should suffer the way they did," said Kim Alboum, the state director in NC for the Humane Society. "This rescue, along with the 13 other we've done in the past 3 years, demonstrates the need for stronger laws in North Carolina to prevent someone from forcing dogs to spend their lives in squalor, without access to clean food and water. We're so grateful to the Pender County Sheriff's Department for taking action in this case and for allowing us to help rescue these animals."
According to the Humane Society, the owner, inside the home at the time, agreed to surrender the animals. The dogs were taken to a temporary emergency animal shelter for treatment. The chicken, cows and goat have also been moved off the property. Charges against the owner are pending.
"We are pleased to be able to help these animals get the care and treatment that they need," said Penny Brown, with animal control. "We grateful for the assistance from The Humane Society of the United States and their placement partners."
No charges have been filed yet in this case, but authorities say they will be forthcoming once an inventory is complete.
North Carolina has become a haven for some of the worst puppy mill operations in the country, according the Humane Society, because there are no specific state laws to protect dogs sold directly to the public or online by commercial breeding facilities.
The dogs will go to the Wake County SPCA and Guilford County Animal Shelter. They will most likely be adoptable in a few weeks.