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Pet stores usually buy their dogs from federally licensed breeders, meaning kennels with five or more breeding females that breed a lot of pups.
"Puppy mills house breeding dogs in small, wire-floored cages, separate puppies from their mothers at a very young age, and ship them hundreds of miles to pet stores around the country," says Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA.
Bred for profit, most of them would have been sold in pet stores or on websites by their third or fourth month of life.
HSUS staffers had gathered evidence that the breeder, Patricia Yates, was selling puppies on multiple websites without a license, and had a stack of buyer complaints lodged against her.
Once triaged and tagged, they were loaded into crates on the Humane Society's mammoth truck, an 80-foot land-ship with clean-room conditions, and taken to a staging shelter.
One hundred and five dogs came out of that house, many of them pregnant or in heat.
They wept and bayed and spun in crazed circles as we toured the maze of cages.
That vastly ups the chances that the dogs are from mills, not from reputable breeders.The house on Hilton Lake Road was unremarkable, a brick one-story with an under-watered lawn and a scrimshaw of patchy shrubs.It was flanked by bigger and smarter homes on a two-lane strip in Cabarrus County, 25 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina, but nothing about it suggested to passersby that inconceivable cruelty lived at this address." That evening, I caught up with Sára Varsa, the senior director of operations for animal rescue at HSUS.Varsa, a veteran of 50 animal-welfare raids, was quarterbacking the care of those hundred-plus dogs at a temporary shelter in a warehouse.