American Humane Assisting with Animal-Handling and Sheltering Operations in Mississippi Puppy Mill Investigation

DENVER, Feb. 4, 2010 – The American Humane Association, at the request of the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and under the authority and request of Shirley C. Byers of the Marshall County (Miss.) Prosecutor’s Office, is assisting in animal-handling and sheltering operations in the investigation of a Marshall County puppy mill, where 96 dogs were seized today.

This morning, the team discovered the dogs living in feces-encrusted pens and filth. They include small breeds, such as Shih Tzus, Lhasa apsos, pugs, Yorkshire terriers, corgis, and Chihuahuas. Manny Maciel, an animal handler volunteering with American Humane’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services™, said that many dogs appeared underweight and appear to have skin problems, among other medical conditions. Several dead adult dogs and puppies were found.

Also on the scene with the ASPCA and American Humane, personnel from Marshall County Humane Society, Mississippi State University and Collierville (Tenn.) Humane Society are removing and transporting animals to an emergency shelter site at the Marshall County Humane Society Clinic in Byhalia, Miss. There they are being triaged by a veterinary team and temporarily sheltered before being transferred to other animal welfare agencies and ultimately made available for adoption.

“Collaboration among animal welfare groups, such as this effort between American Humane and the ASPCA — both national organizations — as well as several local organizations, is an effective way to address the needs of animals in situations like puppy mills and other emergencies,” said Debrah Schnackenberg, vice president of American Humane’s Animal Protection Division and director of its Animal Emergency Services. “Together, we can respond quickly, assemble the best resources, and provide the necessary treatment and care to help get these animals on the road to recovery and into the new, loving homes they all deserve.”

Veterinarians, including Dr. Rebecca Coleman of Memphis, Tenn., Dr. Phil Bushby, a faculty member at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Kimberly Woodruff, also with Mississippi State, are examining animals. Those requiring immediate medical care will be treated.

The investigation was set into motion after local officials contacted the ASPCA several weeks ago. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, led by Sheriff Kenny Dickerson, served a warrant, along with Sgt. Kelly McMillan, Investigators Gary Byrd and David Pannell, and Officer Tracy Jefferies. Charges against the puppy mill’s owners are currently pending, but the dogs have been signed over to the ASPCA.

Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations where animals often live in filthy conditions that foster disease, and frequently suffer from neglect and the absence of veterinary care. Adult dogs are bred excessively and often spend their entire lives in small runs or cages. For the puppies, neglect of emotional needs due to lack of socialization, isolation and the trauma of transportation at an early age is a serious problem. In addition, ignorance or indifference to good breeding practices often results in dogs with genetic problems, and puppy mills add to the already critical problem of pet overpopulation.

American Humane seeks to eliminate puppy mills through enforcement of current laws and regulations, enactment of legislation, and public education to eliminate the market for such animals.

For more information about puppy mills and how to fight animal cruelty, please visit

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