DAHLONEGA — Lumpkin County sheriff’s officials raided an alleged puppy mill Wednesday, seizing close to 100 small dogs that were kept in what authorities said were crowded and substandard living conditions.
John and Angie Shults of Dahlonega face multiple counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and failure to vaccinate animals for rabies, Sgt. Lloyd Brewer said. The Shults bred Chihuahuas, poodles, Yorkshire terriers, Boston terriers, Pomeranians, Malteses and other dogs for sale, Brewer said. Some dogs brought as much as $400 and were sold at a flea market in Pendergrass, he said.
The dogs were kept in fly-infested outdoor cages surrounded by their own waste, authorities said.
About 30 to 40 percent of the animals had no water, said Dr. David Orton, a veterinarian with Chestatee Animal Hospital who examined the dogs.
One Pomeranian was taken for medical treatment for possible dehydration. All the other dogs appeared to be in fairly good health, Orton said.
"It’s just poor care," Orton said.
About 20 of the dogs will be kept at the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter, and the rest will be housed at a private kennel in Lumpkin County that authorities declined to name. Brewer said the animals will become property of Lumpkin County if the owners do not pay fines and fees and comply with numerous requirements within 10 days.
Mary Flowers, manager of the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter, said the dogs should be eligible for adoption in 10 days. She lamented the conditions the animals were kept in behind the Shults’ double-wide trailer located off Cavender Creek Road."The whole thing should be condemned," Flowers said. "It’s not adequate at all. What these people have done is overextend themselves and not hire any help. They needed at least five people to take care of these animals."
The Shults were out of town when the search of their property was conducted Wednesday afternoon. Brewer said he was told by their adult son that they were in Florida. He expected they would surrender to sheriff’s officials to be booked on the misdemeanor charges after returning home.
Brewer, head of the sheriff’s animal control division, said officials had been working with the Shults for three months to address issues of cleanliness, feeding and providing water.
"They cleaned it up a little bit, and then it would go back," he said. "It was a roller coaster."
Lumpkin County Sheriff Mark McClure said the Shults were "given warnings and given a plan to fix their problems, and they refused to do so".
"I have no problem with individuals who are animal lovers, but when they are mistreated like this, that’s when law enforcement steps in," McClure said. "We’re here today for the welfare of these animals."
For information about the possibility of adopting the animals, contact the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter at 706-867-7297.