As anybody who has a pet knows, our four-legged friends are a beloved part of the family. We obsess over them, we lean on them for emotional support, and sometimes we even get high with them [disclaimer: don’t get high with your pet, it’s really not good for them].
Unfortunately, unscrupulous pet farms know this too, which is why so many are willing to go to extreme and often barbaric lengths to turn a profit. And some of the worst offenders are the pet mills – breeding operations where huge numbers of puppies, kittens, or something even more exotic, are forced to live in inhumane conditions with no regard for their health or wellbeing.
Because of the sheer cruelty of the practice, puppy and kitten mills have recently been outlawed in parts of Australia, England, and certain states in the US. And although Shamong Township in Burlington County, New Jersey, has not banned the practice outright, a new local ordinance has just saved over 160 pups from conditions described by local police as “deplorable and inhumane.”
As well as at least 161 sickly puppies crammed inside cages at the home of dog breeder Donna Roberts, investigators also found 44 dead pups, which had been stored in plastic bags and kept in freezers throughout the house. The tiny canine corpses had apparently been left there for as long as seven years.
“Although the circumstance surrounding the demise of the 44 dogs that were discovered inside plastic bags in freezers remain under investigation, the deplorable and inhumane living conditions the rescued dogs were forced to endure is tragic,” Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police said in a statement.
“We are appalled by the horrendous conditions these dogs were subjected to, and as a result, I authorized charges against the property owner, Donna Roberts.”
The pups were living in such squalid conditions that several investigators at the scene were overcome with dizziness and nausea, thanks to an “odor of animal feces and ammonia [that] permeated the inside of the residence,” reports the statement. Four of the rescued fuzzballs were in such critical conditions that they had to be rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic for treatment, while the remaining dogs were treated at the house by animal welfare workers.
There are still around 10,000 puppy mills in the USA, providing unsuspecting or unscrupulous pet owners and traders with over 2 million puppies per year. Thanks to recent US Department of Agriculture (USDA) operational changes, they’re actually getting harder to avoid lately – but prospective puppy owners can find guides on how to find their new pooch from the ASPCA, RSPCA (in the UK), the Puppy Mill Project, as well as many other sources.
Roberts has been charged with animal cruelty and released pending a court date. Talking to the New York Post, she said she intends on fighting the charges.
“Oh, most certainly,” she said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”