A vacant building on U.S. 301 became a temporary hospital Wednesday for 56 dogs that were surrendered by a Sampson County kennel.
Veterinarians examined the animals one by one, finding ear infections, extensive tooth decay and malnutrition.
Elisa Sumakeris, a veterinarian volunteering with the Humane Society for the day, opened the mouth of a 9-year-old Papillon to reveal that most of the dog’s teeth were missing.
“Anyone who’s had a toothache can tell you the pain he was in for years,” she said.
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The owners of the Royal Acres Kennel in Sampson turned over the animals after sheriff’s deputies conducted a search of the property.
The kennel had about 100 dogs in its care, and owners Roger and Marilyn Hall have agreed to seek medical treatment for the dogs they did not surrender.
The sheriff’s office is not pressing criminal charges, spokesman Eric Pope said.
“Our animal control officers will be working with them to make sure that follow-up is taken,” he said.
Mary McBride, a veterinarian with the SPCA in Raleigh, accompanied deputies and Humane Society officials on the visit. She said the dogs were kept in clean conditions, but they weren’t receiving adequate medical care.
Roger Hall, in a telephone interview, accused the Humane Society of targeting him and his wife unfairly. He said most of the dogs surrendered were in poor health because they are old.
But McBride said the dogs needed routine trips to the vet.
“If these dogs had been seen by their local vet, they would not be in the shape they’re in,” she said. “I’m very concerned about the dogs that remain.”
Kim Alboum, director of the state chapter of the Humane Society, said the organization had been watching Royal Acres for months. But it hadn’t been able to do anything about it, she said, because North Carolina lacks regulations for dog breeders. Instead, the Humane Society has to wait for conditions to slip below the standard for animal cruelty, she said.
The organization is now pushing for stricter laws and a licensing requirement.
The Humane Society is working to place the dogs with rescue groups and shelters across the state, which will then try to hook the animals up with foster and adoptive families. Members are hoping to place the dogs by the end of this weekend.