When we write about puppy mills, one of the major criticisms about their existence is the overcrowding. But a case in Ohio takes overcrowding to an even higher degree than the usual horror. Authorities in Licking County, Ohio, found 61 dogs of various breeds and sizes crammed into a single minivan. The van had apparently broken down and was parked in front of a motel. One of the motel workers saw the dogs inside and called the sheriff.
The 49 adults and 12 puppies included Shih Tzus, German Shepherds, Boxers, Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Shar Peis, and other breeds. Crates and cages were piled in every available space, each containing four to five dogs. Humane Society agent Paula Evans, who was one of the first people on the scene, gave an example to the Bucyrus Telegraph: “In one kennel alone was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a Rottweiler, a Lab and then another large dog.”
If you were packing luggage, you would have to admire the ingenuity of getting so many things into such a small space. But when you’re packing live animals, it’s an act of deliberate cruelty. When they were rescued, the dogs were covered in urine and feces, and they were scratched from being in such close quarters with each other. One dog was ill with pneumonia.
The dogs are the property of Country Boys Pets, an Indiana breeder, who said that the dogs were being taken from Indiana to a rescue organization in New Jersey.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years. Of everything I’ve done as a humane agent and in animal rescue, nothing has affected me like this,” Evans told the Bucyrus Telegraph. “These animals don’t deserve it.”
The dogs are safe now, but Lori Carlson, executive director of the Licking County Humane Society, said they show signs of long-term abuse.
“They are scared, they are just terrified,” she said. “They have probably never been on leashes. They’ve never had treats. They are not used to people being nice to them.”
The USDA’s latest inspection report shows a number of violations by Country Boys Pets, including enclosures that are too small. The report filed on Aug. 26, 2013, noted that 47 dogs were in enclosures that were three to nine square feet smaller than the required minimum.
If anything about the situation can really be said to be “good,” there are two things that we can list as positives: first, that the dogs are now safe, and being cared for. Volunteers are coming in every day to play with them so they’ll become accustomed to being around humans. After they’ve recovered, the Licking County Humane Society will try to find new homes for them.
Second, cases like this are becoming more visible, and with that visibility comes change. We write about nauseating stories like this all the time, but we also get to write stories about how laws are being passed to stop more from happening. Late last week, for example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed important anti-puppy-mill legislation, and we’ve seen similar laws in Colorado and Florida. Reading about this stuff is a horrible way to start the day, but in the end, it’s a win for the good guys.
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