When Rescuers Busted This Sickening Puppy Mill, No One Could Have Predicted A Happy Ending

Puppy mills are notorious for being places of immense animal cruelty. However, no matter how much bad press the facilities get, they still have the ability to shock even the most experienced animal rescuers. And such was the case at this mill in Georgia.

But the story begins in North Carolina. In July 2014, a woman there reported the death of a puppy to officials. She had purchased the pooch just days before from one Joy Wise in Cherokee County, Georgia. Thankfully, the sheriff’s department acted on the tip and subsequently investigated Wise.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a puppy mill is a facility that breeds dogs for commercial purposes. And they tend, unfortunately, to put profits before the welfare of their animals. Indeed, dogs are often kept in deplorable conditions, with puppies prone to getting congenital and hereditary conditions.

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Before they paid Wise a visit, authorities noted that she sold four dog breeds online. Indeed, she advertised herself as a trustworthy breeder of 35 years who specializes in “designer” dogs. Wise also claimed that she had traded online for eight years.

But by the summer of 2014, teams from Cherokee County Animal Shelter and Cherokee County Marshal’s Office knew better. And they joined forces to bust Wise’s puppy mill. Apparently, she had cruelly treated animals for more than 30 years.

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Naturally, the team had some idea of what to expect when they got to the property. But nothing could have prepared them for what they actually found. Here, hundreds upon hundreds of dogs lived in a series of awful makeshift cages.

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Worse still, the canines were kept in undeniably atrocious conditions. Reports, indeed, revealed that the dogs were tightly packed together in their cages. And their poor paws bore the brunt of their unfortunate situations.

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“I saw dogs sleeping in food bowls so they could get off the wire screen that was the bottom of their cage, designed so that when the dogs urinated, the mess would fall through the grate,” Dr. Michael Good, a veterinarian who attended the scene, told WGCL-TV in 2014. “Imagine living your whole life on something like that. It’s got to have an affect on your ligaments and your joints.”

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Also present at the raid was TV star and animal activist Victoria Stilwell, who’s determined to end puppy mills’ cruel practices. “It’s absolutely disgusting, the conditions these animals are living in. They are suffering physically, but they’re also suffering emotionally,” she told CBS46 News in 2014.

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In total, authorities seized 375 dogs from the property that day. However, Cherokee County Animal Shelter expected that number to rise. Furthermore, a number of the dogs, perhaps unsurprisingly, were pregnant.

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Puppy mill owner Wise was subsequently charged with 264 counts of animal cruelty. Wise, along with her husband Guerry, later pleaded guilty to 25 counts of animal cruelty. And they were subsequently given 25 years’ probation and ordered to pay $2,610 in court fines.

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And Stilwell gave a scathing condemnation. “These people, they’re not breeders,” she told CBS46 News. “They’re puppy millers that basically do factory farming for dogs. They don’t care about the dogs themselves. All they care about is the money. That’s it.”

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Fortunately, the canines seized from the mill later made an excellent recovery. Just six weeks after their rescue, in fact, many were ready for adoption. And in order to give the pooches the best possible chance of finding forever homes, the shelter organized an adoption event.

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Word of the animals’ amazing rescue spread far and wide; hundreds of people, indeed, attended the event. Hoards of dog lovers queued around the block. It was an opportunity to find the dogs the love they had gone without for so long.

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Incredibly, every single dog was snapped up by a loving family. However, that wasn’t the end of their wonderful story. A year after their rescue, the dogs attended a reunion celebration with their new families. The joyous event was worlds away from the poor pups’ hard start in life.

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No one was more thrilled about the dogs’ happy ending than Stilwell. “I feel honored to have been part of the team that took down this operation and gave these dogs their first taste of freedom,” she wrote on her website. “The Cherokee County Marshal’s Office and the Cherokee County Animal Shelter were determined to get these dogs out of the hellish conditions they were living in.”

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Remembering the traumatized animals’ reaction when she first met them, she added, “It was apparent that most of the dogs had little to no human contact, as they just froze when they were picked up, unsure of what was happening or how to react.” But, just a year later, the animals blossomed into loving pets.

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The dogs’ heartwarming journey has since been documented online. Indeed, a YouTube video shared by Stilwell follows the canines’ story from the day they were picked up at the puppy mill to their tear-jerking reunion over a year later. And it has proved very popular.

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The viral video has been viewed over four million times since it went live in 2015. And it’s attracted more than 6,000 comments from well wishers. “This is just terrible how these poor animals are forced to breed to death,” read one. “Thank you so much for rescuing these poor abandoned newborns and adult dogs. I’m so glad that these people care.”

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Although the hundreds of dogs rescued from the Cherokee County mill found loving homes, the problem of puppy mills continues. So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, be aware. “Don’t support this cruelty by buying puppies from flea markets or pet stores, or online. Instead, check out your local shelter or rescue group, or find a truly responsible breeder,” Stilwell advised.

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