The SPCA of Wake County is expected to receive at least 14 dogs today that were among more than 150 rescued in the raid of a dog-breeding operation in Stokes County on Tuesday.
Workers with the Humane Society of the United States accompanied Stokes County Animal Control officers on the raid in Danbury, just north of Winston-Salem. The dogs were taken from a breeder called Dan River Bullies.
Kim Alboum, Humane Society director for North Carolina, said the conditions at the alleged puppy mill were especially deplorable.
"Our volunteers would go in to remove puppies from cages and scream because there were mice in the cages with the little puppies," Alboum said.
Charges are expected to be filed by Stokes County once veterinarians assess the medical conditions of all the dogs, Alboum said. Stokes County law enforcement officials became concerned after the breeder turned over 11 dogs in poor physical condition to the Stokes Humane Society.
A search and seizure warrant was served on Dan River Bullies on Tuesday, and all of the canines were surrendered to Stokes Animal Control.
Most of the dogs were French bulldogs and Chihuahuas, but other small breeds also were rescued.
Phil Handy, director of animal control for Stokes County, said he could not believe the conditions at Dan River Bullies.
"I'm relieved we were able to come to the aid of these dogs," he said.
The dogs are being transported to animal shelters around the state. Darci Van Der Silk of the Wake Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the Guilford County Animal Shelter is holding 14 dogs for Wake. She said Wake is willing to take more dogs if necessary. Wake SPCA plans to retrieve the dogs today.
The owners of Dan River Bullies, at 1560 Bob Mabe Road in Danbury, are Willis and Lucile Mabe. Their website, danriverbul lies.com, has been taken down. It said the couple bred and sold bulldogs, Yorkshire terriers, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas.
The site contained photos and descriptions of dogs written without punctuation: "this is my new French bull babies the brindle one is the male the girls is red with black mask AKC reg full reg."
The site lists the English bulldogs for $1,500 each and the French bulldogs for $2,000 to $2,500 each.
N.C. a magnet for mills
The Humane Society estimates there are 250 to 350 large-scale puppy mills operating in North Carolina. Because of the lack of regulations in the state, animal advocates think the problem will worsen as unscrupulous breeders flock to the state to avoid oversight.
A bill regulating commercial breeders passed in the state Senate in 2009, but died in the House after extensive lobbying by the Pork Council and other special interests. House leaders deemed SB460 "too divisive," and no new legislation was submitted in 2011.
Nineteen states have regulations for commercial dog breeders.