Local humane society joins other agencies from across the state in effort.
Michelle Morrison places a Chihuahua in a cage at the Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee. The society chose 15 chihuahuas and three Shar-Peis to bring back Friday from Shelby, Ohio.
The Toledo Area Humane Society joined shelters and rescue groups from across the state Friday in removing dogs from a puppy mill turned hoarding situation in Richland County.
The humane society received 18 of the 280 dogs at the Windsong Kennels in Shelby, Ohio, about 60 miles southeast of Toledo. Fifteen of the dogs are Chihuahuas and three are Shar-Peis.
"We had a very difficult time deciding which ones to take," said Aja LeBarr, behavior and enrichment coordinator at the humane society, who drove to the kennel along with Jodi Harding, humane society foster care coordinator.
"We originally planned to bring back 10 Chihuahuas and 2 Shar-Peis, but when we started to remove Chihuahuas from cages, the others in that cage got excited and we just couldn't separate them."
Upon arriving at the humane society about 3 p.m., the dogs were vaccinated and medically evaluated. They were found to be severely flea-infested and to have hair loss from flea-bite dermatitis. None showed aggression during the initial exams, officials said. They are to undergo behavior testing today.
A Shar-Pei peers from its cage in Maumee. ‘We had a very difficult time deciding which ones to take,’ a Humane Society official said.
Some might have to be fostered for socialization before they can be placed up for adoption, Ms. LeBarr said.
"These are dogs who have spent the majority of their lives housed in tiny cages," Ms. LeBarr said.
The Humane Society of the United States and RedRover, a group dedicated to helping animals in crisis situations, were called in by the Humane Society of Richland County to assist in the rescue.
The owner of the dogs surrendered them to the Humane Society of Richland County this week.
One of the kennel's owners recently died and the other was admitted to a hospice facility. A family friend reached out to the Humane Society of Richland County to get assistance for the dogs.
Rescuers quickly mobilized to provide the dogs with food, water, and veterinary evaluations. The dogs were in cramped wire cages and pens, covered in their own waste, without access to veterinary care or proper socialization. Many of the dogs suffered from skin irritations, eye infections, and severe flea infestations, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
The Chihuahuas were in 2-foot by 3-foot kennels with up to three dogs per cage. Some cages were stacked two high. The Shar-Peis were housed individually in indoor/outdoor runs.
The groups that took the dogs are part of the HSUS' Emergency Placement Partners organization. Besides Toledo, they included the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, C.H.A. Animal Shelter in Columbus, Cleveland Animal Protection League, Cincinnati SPCA, Cleveland SPCA, WolfSpirit's Toy Breed Puppy Mill Rescue in Canton, Friendship Animal Protection League of Lorain County, Shar Mar Rescue of Wooster, Ohio, and Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington.
At the Humane Society, Michelle Morrison gives dewormer and heartworm prevention medication to a Chihuahua. The rescued dogs were vaccinated and evaluated Friday. They were found to be fleainfested and had hair loss from flea-bite dermatitis. Behavior testing is today.
Ohio is among a minority of U.S. states that do not require commercial dog breeders to be inspected by the state or adhere to standards of care.
"This has made the Buckeye State a convenient location for some of the worst puppy mill operators in the country, including this one," said Karen Minton, Ohio state director for the HSUS, in a statement. "The Humane Society of the United States is relieved that this owner made the right decision to surrender these dogs and hopes that state legislators will enact a law with strict standards of care so that Ohio does not continue to be a haven for puppy mills."
Senate Bill 130, which would require high-volume breeders to be licensed and inspected by the state, has been passed by the Senate and awaits action in the House.
The HSUS has established a reward program to offer up to $5,000 to anyone who provides any information leading to the arrest and conviction of a puppy mill operator for illegal animal cruelty. Anyone wishing to report a valid tip is encouraged to call 1-877-MILL-TIP; he or she will remain anonymous.
Those wishing to donate to the Toledo Area Humane Society for the care of these animals can do so online at toledoareahumane society.org/donate/4-donate or by mailing a check to 1920 Indian Wood Circle, Maumee, OH 43537.
Those interested in adopting one of the dogs can learn more about the process online at toledoareahumane society.org/adopt/115- adoption-process or by calling 419-891-0705.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6066.