Alleged puppy mill busted

Friday, February 4, 2011
Justin Scally with The Humane Society of the United States rescued dogs from inhumane conditions at a Tennessee puppy mill.

State, county, business and animal rights authorities raided a suspected puppy mill Wednesday to rescue 97 dogs and a cat from property on Yell Road.

"We have dissolved what we believe to be a puppy mill at 2819 Yell Road, the residence of Carol Corey Harris," Marshall County Sheriff Norman Dalton said in a prepared announcement, emphasizing cooperation between several entities.

Harris' property is east of Cornersville and just north of where Coosie Branch Road intersects with Yell Road.

"All of the animals have been surrendered by the owner to the custody of the Marshall County Sheriff's Department," the Humane Society of the U.S. said.

The sheriff anticipated charges being filed Thursday or maybe today.

"Yes," Dalton said Thursday morning, "there will be [charges] eventually. They're still collecting evidence. I don't know what the charges will be. It's just a matter of time.

"I would expect later this afternoon, but I can't be for sure," he said.

The Humane Society of the United States said it is "thankful to the Marshall County Sheriff's Department for standing up for these animals and enforcing Tennessee's animal cruelty laws."

The dogs were housed in unsanitary conditions, lacked proper socialization and medical care, authorities said.

"Many of these dogs were so filthy and uncared for that it was difficult for us to even tell what breed they were," HSUS Tennessee Director Leighann McCollum said. "This is the perfect example of the squalid conditions dogs in puppy mills are forced to endure.

"This case began when the sheriff received an anonymous tip concerning the welfare of the dogs," McCollum said. "The Tennessee Department of Health's Animal Welfare Division also found alleged violations of cruelty laws at the facility during a routine inspection."

The dogs were mostly poodles and other small breeds, living crowded amongst their own feces in wire enclosures.

Because of the nature of the case, only trained personnel are allowed contact with the animals. Other dogs there included spaniels and, according to WSMV TV, Chihuahuas and Maltese.

"The animals are being cared for by expert staff from the Humane Society of the United States and United Animal Nations," Dalton said. "They were taken to an emergency shelter where they are being evaluated by a veterinarian and receiving medical care."

"They're in Marshall County in an undisclosed location," Dalton said.

"This is a criminal action and the dogs are not available for adoption at this time," Dalton said.

"If the dogs are released, they will be placed with pre-approved professional animal welfare organizations where they will receive further medical attention, be spayed or neutered, and have behavior evaluations before being offered for adoption," the sheriff said.

If and when the dogs may be released, "a list of receiving organizations will be posted on the HSUS Web site."

"PetSmart Charities has made a generous donation of dog food, crates, and other necessary supplies," according to the sheriff's prepared statement. "Financial contributions may be made to the Marshall County Sheriff's Office Animal Rescue Fund to assist with medical care and other expenses resulting from the rescue. Any funds not used on this rescue will remain in the Marshall County Sheriff's Office Animal Rescue Fund for future animal cruelty cases that may arise.

The HSUS has removed the animals and took them to an emergency shelter set up and staffed by The HSUS and United Animal Nations. UAN and The HSUS will provide the animals with daily care until they are transported to partner shelters for evaluation and adoption.

The sheriff said the action Wednesday came as a result of the following people and groups that worked together.

They include: McCollum; Sheriff's Capt. Bob Johnson and Detective Jimmy Oliver; Justin Scally and members of the HSUS; PetSmart Charities; Marshall County EMA Director Bob Hopkins and his crew; Marshall County Waste Management Director Morgan Thomas and his crew; Marshall County and Lewisburg Animal Control officers Willard Cates and Jason Williams; and the Tennessee Office of Animal Health and Welfare.

"The Marshall County Sheriff's Office will continue to fight against puppy mills, cock fighting, dog fighting and any other cruelty to animals," said Marshall County Sheriff Norman Dalton. "We ask that pet owners treat their animals kindly, and they will receive that pet's unconditional love in return."

HSUS said it was called in by the Marshall County Sheriff's Department.