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Puppy Mill Crisis in the Northwest
Giant bust knocks out multi-million dollar enterprise

UPDATE: The number of pregnant dogs may have been erroneously reported. According to a story in The Herald, as few as 20 are expecting. "On Monday, officials said fewer than 20 of the 600 dogs likely are expecting puppies." Let's hope they've got the right count.

The news about the bust of one of the largest puppy mill networks in Snohomish County (north of Seattle) keeps getting worse. Of the nearly 600 Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers and other small breeds rescued from shocking conditions (the dogs crammed into cages were sick, covered in feces and urine, dehydrated and starving), 80 percent are pregnant. (See update.) The challenges of the already epic rescue will be compounded exponentially.

The coverage of the raids (much of which has been aggregated at puppy justice.com, a site created by the tipster who set off the investigation) reveals not only how extensive these operations can be but also how big the money. We're talking millions.

How to help: Money, supplies and foster families are needed. Contact the Everett Animal Shelter, S.P.O.T. (Saving Pets One at A Time) and/or the Humane Society of Skagit Valley.

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Thumbnail image: Kevin Nortz, The Herald.

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Submitted by Pet Profiles | January 30 2009 |

It is stories like these that I believe in the "Eye for an eye" punishment. The people behind these puppy mills need to be locked in a cage covered in their own poo and pee.

Submitted by Brandon | January 31 2009 |

An eye for an eye would be very well justified I think. I had never heard of this publication or website until last night. Hats off to the developers of it, its a nice website.

I knew about their operation for a long time, however I did not know it had gotten as large and out of control as it had. While on a trip to visit my mom, I stopped by my best friends house. Because of his dogs, I was the only one that he would let into his house. 155 dogs in a 2,000 sq ft home, It was just out of control.

Its a long story, but and his wife were my best friends of 20 years. When I saw their living conditions and not to mention the 2 teenage girls living quarters, I knew that I was the only one that had the insight needed to turn them over to authorities.

I would like to tell my story to someone here, I think it needs to be told so that others, like myself, can be educated on why and how these horrible puppy mills start. I am not an activist now nor was I before.

I sent an email to editor@thebark.com (i think) last night. Looking forward to someone getting back to me

Submitted by Anonymous | February 5 2009 |

I can deeply deeply sympathize with the mental and emotional turmoil the tipster must have gone through because I went through the same thing only it was MY MOTHER hoarding not only cats and dogs but horses too. At one point she and her "husband" had over 40 horses on 6 acres in unbelievable conditions in Maple Valley, King County, Washington. No one in the family was able to stop it and we ended up turning her in to the authorities along with all the neighbors and the breed clubs that were aware of that situation. To compound all of our emotional agonies king County animal control sent most of the horses to the auction where they went to slaughter - how would you like to have to live with that guilt??!! And no slaughter is not humane and is arguable that it is "better than starving to death" especially when there was little opportunity for legal rescues to step in and help these horses. I changed my name and moved to another state because even many years later I was still getting buttonholed and bitched out by people local to Seattle who knew my mother and what she had done - as I am sure the tipster for this puppy mill had a similar experience with people who knew the former relationship and were ready to "tar with the same brush" no matter how heroic the efforts were to resolve a horrific situation. Hoarders and mills hurt others besides the animals and the hurt to people lasts forever because this isn't something that can be mentally set aside, ever.

Submitted by Carolyn | February 5 2009 |

I'd like to read an article in The Bark on this issue. I've never understood why we even allow puppy mills or how they get so out of control. I don't understand the motivations of people who profess to like animals ... and then treat them so inhumanely. Good on the whistle blower for stepping forward.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 5 2009 |

Another correction: The vast majority of these animals came from Skagit County, which borders Snohomish to the north. The dual-county status makes investigations and prosecutions even more complicated.

Most important, though, I want to give credit to the agencies and organizations in Skagit County, who have been caring for the 483 dogs seized.

I also want to mention that N.O.A.H. (Northwest Organization for Animal Help) in Stanwood, Snohomish County, has taken in 72 dogs seized in the Skagit County raids. Austin Gates is a miracle worker and they deserve credit.

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