A Kentucky judge granted legal custody to Animal Rescue Corps on Saturday of 127 animals the group seized from a puppy mill in Monticello, Ky. with help from Lebanon’s New Leash on Life.
The property owner, Clara Preat, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and surrendered 122 dogs, four cats and one of two parrots seized in a Sept. 19 raid.
One parrot will remain in the care of ARC while a court determines custody. Placement of the animals with approved shelter and rescue partners started Sunday.
“We couldn’t do this scale of operation without the cooperation of our partners. It truly takes all of us working together to end suffering of this scale,” said Animal Rescue Corps President Scotlund Haisley. “Animal Rescue Corps and our partners stand united in a commitment to helping these animals and bringing an end to puppy mills.”
ARC’s network of placement partners will be tasked with finding permanent homes for all of the animals who have been cared for by teams of volunteers working around the clock for the past week in a temporary emergency shelter set up at Cumberland Valley Shows warehouse in Lebanon.
The list of placement partners for this rescue, dubbed Operation Unbridled Spirit, is not yet complete, but includes New Leash on Life, Chicago French Bulldog Rescue, AGAPE Animal Rescue, and Small Breed Rescue of East Tennessee. Additional placement partners are expected to be announced on ARC’s Facebook page. Anyone wishing to submit an adoption or foster application may contact the placement partners directly.
“Having come from a puppy mill, these animals all have special needs,” said New Leash on Life Director Amy Haverstick. “They will need foster and adoptive parents who have the patience and knowledge to teach them how to live as family members for the first time.”
The ARC also assisted authorities in Ohio County, Ky., where more than 50 dogs were found at a property of a known hoarder and convicted animal abuser, according to ARC officials.
Following an assessment of the situation by an ARC field team, ARC is assisting with sheltering and placement for 24 of the dogs from the case.
These dogs were brought back to an ARC emergency shelter in Lebanon, where the 128 animals from Operation Unbridled Spirit are currently under care. Officials said the efforts will help to alleviate the need for space as Ohio County animal control continues to address this issue. Ten dogs from the case already placed with other rescue groups currently remain at animal control awaiting transport.
On Sept. 19, a variety of small breed dogs, including newborn litters, were found crowded into small, dilapidated, outdoor wire and wood hutches and pens encrusted with urine and excessive piles of feces. The only water sources were dirty and green with algae growth. The dogs, the majority of whom were underweight, were suffering from severe eye and ear infections, significant fur loss and matting, urine-soaked fur, skin issues, and extreme internal and external parasites, such as fleas. The parrots and cats were living in similar conditions, their cages and food bowls also covered in feces. All animals lacked adequate living conditions, socialization and veterinary care.
Animal Rescue Corps performed Operation Unbridled Spirit in conjunction with Wayne County Animal Control, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wayne County Attorney. New Leash on Life, Cumberland Valley Shows and Mars Petcare US, Inc. also contributed equipment, supplies, space and other needed items.