More than a month after they were taken to the Great Plains SPCA Independence campus, all of the 51 dogs rescued from a puppy mill in Madison County, Arkansas, have been either been adopted or have an adopter lined up.
Those 51 were among 295 canines rescued on March 3 in Arkansas, found to be living in filthy conditions and without clean water and food. Five were found dead when the Humane Society and local sheriff's deputies arrived at the puppy mill. More than a dozen other shelters from several states besides Great Plains – many of them in Florida – also took in dogs.
The woman running the puppy mill, Joyce Johnson, surrendered the dogs without incident that day and faces two misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. Arkansas has no laws against commercial breeding.
Great Plains spokesperson Rachel Hodgson had said when the dogs arrived in Independence March 7 that the Humane Society had given Great Plains some of most serious medical cases. A few required amputations, she said Wednesday, but none had to be put down. Initially workers thought a female dog or two were pregnant, but examinations showed they instead had some enlarged organs due to squalid living conditions. Almost none had been spayed or neutered before arriving, but all the dogs soon received those procedures.
After initial examinations and processing when they reached Independence – thanks to an army of staff and volunteers – all 51 dogs were bathed to remove caked mud or fecal matter. Some had fur so matted they required a shaving. Among the breeds they received were Doberman, Cocker spaniel, Shih-Tzu, boxer, beagle, Maltese terrier mixes and poodle mixes.
“We had an eye removed and some toes removed, but we really try to keep that as a last resort,” Hodgson said. “A few needed some dental work. There were blood issues or infections due to ticks.”
Hodgson said she did not know the status of dogs that went to other shelters, and the Humane Society could not be reached Thursday for information. The Humane Society driver who helped transport dogs to Independence said a couple pregnant dogs bound for other shelters gave birth to litters after they were rescued.
“They were spread throughout so many places,” Hodgson said. “We took in a lot, and others took in a dozen or a couple dozen.”
Hodgson said the first dog to be adopted, one of the healthiest to arrive, went home about a week after arriving at Great Plains.
“We had so many people come around, and people often fall in love when they see a dog with a story like this,” Hodgson said. “The entire metro area has supported our care for them, and so many are in their forever homes. Sometimes the foster (caregiver) falls in love with the dog.
“The first couple days (after the rescue) we did receive some donations, and that covered a lot of the cost. Some of the (medical) cases were costly.”
One of last dogs lined up and waiting to go to its adoptive home is a German shepherd puppy named Daniel, who initially couldn't walk on his front legs due to rickets, a bone deficiency disease often caused by severe malnutrition. He was recently cleared for adoption. Daniel's mother was the first dog taken into the Great Plains shelter and was among the initial wave of adoptees, Hodgson said, as by then Daniel wasn't as bonded with her.
“He made a lot of progress in the first days and weeks,” Hodgson said of the puppy. “He's a really sweet boy and doing well.”
Great Plains still has hundreds of animals at its Independence and Merriam, Kansas, shelters awaiting adoption, she said.
Call 816-783-5104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Independence campus, or call 913-742-7324 or email email@example.com for the Merriam campus.