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Sheriff: Puppies Rescued From Alleged Puppy Mill Operation
RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. — Mixed-breed puppies removed from an Arkansas SUV will stay in California. The 47 puppies were taken by authorities from what is believed to be a puppy mill operator who allegedly transported them from Arkansas to California with the intention of selling them here, according to authorities.
Sheriff’s deputies Wednesday arrested Eldon McAfee, of Everton, Arkansas, on charges of cruelty to animals. He was arrested in Spring Valley and faces a possible 46 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. Each misdemeanor count carries up to a six-month jail sentence and a $500 fine.
McAfee loaded up his SUV with 47 puppies in Arkansas and started driving across the country selling puppies out of his SUV, according to the county Department of Animal Services.
An unidentified person Wednesday looked inside McAfee’s SUV and reported finding puppies stuffed inside crates that were soiled with feces and urine, animal services officials said.
Some of the puppies were underweight, and others suffered from urine burns and upper respiratory conditions, according to animal services. One puppy was dead.
The County of San Diego Department of Animal Services transferred 13 of the puppies to Helen Woodward Animal Center.
“The puppies seem to be various mixes of Boston terrier, Maltese, and Jack Russell terrier,” said Helen Woodward Animal Center adoption manager LaBeth Thompson.
Thompson said the puppies that arrived at HWAC appear to be in good health in spite of their ordeal. “I was told that some of the others taken from the Arkansas man were not quite so fortunate. Some of them barely weighed 2 pounds and had medical issues, including deformed legs. This type of thing is not uncommon in puppy mill puppies.”
HWAC spokesman John Van Zante said that the center cautions families about this type of thing constantly, but the words of warning go unheard.
“This is a perfect example. The two largest puppy mill states in the country are Arkansas and Missouri,” Van Zante said. “We believe that someone bred these puppies in Arkansas, then packed as many as he could into his SUV and drove them to California with the intention of selling them to unsuspecting families. The buyers would have no idea they were supporting the puppy mill industry.”
The 13 puppies that were transferred to Helen Woodward Animal Center will receive extensive medical exams, including up-to-date vaccinations and spaying or neutering before becoming available for adoption. Van Zante said that, if all goes well, the puppies may be ready to go live with their new families in about a week.
“Remember that, at any one time, there are about 1,000 orphaned dogs and cats waiting for their new families to find them at our area animal shelters and rescue groups. They all need families. Don’t wait for one of these puppies. Visit the shelter or rescue group nearest you and take your new pet home today,” Van Zante said.
For more information call 868-756-4117, visit Helen Woodward Animal Center at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe, or log on to www.animalcenter.org.