RUTHERFORD COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - More than 50 small-breed dogs are recuperating at the Humane Society of Charlotte, after being rescued from a suspected puppy mill in Rutherford County.
"Right now these dogs are in really bad shape" said Jorge Ortega, of the Humane Society. "We have one dog that's missing an eye due to an old injury. We are seeing severe mats. A lot of dental problems."
Humane Society officials say the dogs include English bulldog, yorkie, cocker spaniel, French bulldog and shitzu breeds.
According to officials, the dogs were found on three different properties by the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office in poor conditions and in need of medical care.
The Humane Society of Charlotte's Emergency Response Team was asked to assist.
"This is the 20th rescue that The HSUS has assisted with in North Carolina since June 2011," said state director Kim Alboum.
"It's time for North Carolina to enact stronger laws to protect dogs. While we are here rescuing dogs, there are thousands more in puppy mills that need the help of our state's lawmakers."
There are no specific North Carolina laws to protect dogs sold directly to the public or online by commercial breeding facilities, officials said.
"Law enforcement officers, therefore, are unable to prevent neglect until it reaches crisis proportions," officials said. "As a result, North Carolina has become a haven for some of the worst puppy mill operators in the country."
The animals from Rutherford County were transported from the property and thoroughly examined by medical teams from the Humane Society of Charlotte and the Humane Society of the United States.
Some of these dogs were brought to the Humane Society of Charlotte, where they're being treated
"We are glad that we are equipped to assist HSUS with emergency response, medical care and finding loving homes for these wonderful dogs, however we wish these situations did not exist at all," Shelly Moore with the Humane Society of Charlotte said.
Ortega said "we're hopeful some of these dogs can be available for adoption soon but we're probably looking at months before some of these are available."
On Friday, workers will give the dogs a more intensive medical - drawing blood and doing more medical exams - to get a better idea of the animals' health conditions.
The HSUS has established a reward program to offer up to $5,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a puppy mill operator for animal cruelty.
Persons wishing to report a valid tip are encouraged to call 1-877-MILL-TIP or submit a tip form. These persons will remain anonymous.
MORE INFO » http://humanesocietyofcharlotte.org/