The Humane Society of Hall County has given shelter to 57 purebred dogs that were seized this week from an alleged puppy mill in Cumming.
“The (Georgia Department of Agriculture) doesn’t have a shelter for this type of thing, and they asked if they could bring the dogs here,” said humane society president Rick Aiken. “We were lucky we just happened to have room at our shelter. Usually we don’t.”
The dogs, which arrived Wednesday afternoon, are all small breeds: Yorkshire terriers, dachshunds, poodles, papillons, shih tzus, Pekingese, schnauzers, miniature pinschers and chihuahuas.
“Small dogs are just what most people are looking for these days,” Aiken said. “These are some nice-looking little dogs, and most of them seem pretty sociable.”
Aiken said he didn’t think the breeders were deliberately cruel. “These animals weren’t being starved,” he said. “But they were somewhat neglected because the breeders had gotten in over their heads (financially) and couldn’t take care of them.”
Venessa Sims-Green, manager of the Georgia agriculture department’s animal protection section, said the dogs were taken from a kennel on Oak Grove Circle in Cumming, owned by Heather Duckett.
“(Duckett) had a license to sell animals at the Pendergrass flea market, but she did not have a license to house dogs at her home location,” Sims-Green said.
Duckett also is indirectly connected to another neglect case earlier this week.
On Tuesday, agriculture officials seized 134 dogs from a puppy mill in Cherokee County and turned them over to the Atlanta Humane Society. Authorities were responding to a complaint about a sick dog purchased from the Pendergrass flea market.
The dog had sarcoptic mange, a serious skin disease that usually is a sign of neglect. Inspectors visited the kennel where the dog was bred and found unsanitary conditions. Co-owner Garnelee Richards agreed to surrender 134 dogs to the state.
While investigating Richards’ case, inspectors became aware of Duckett’s involvement. “She was brokering animals for the Richards kennel, which may have led to the spread of mange (from one kennel to another),” Sims-Green said.
Duckett’s license to sell animals at the flea market was shared by Mary Reynolds of Jasper.
“Reynolds also co-owned some of the animals on Duckett’s property,” Sims-Green said.
She said it was Reynolds who agreed to surrender the dogs from Duckett’s kennel. Reynolds also has her own business, K&T Kennels, in Pickens County. It does have a state license, but the license expires March 31.
Sims-Green said she didn’t know whether Reynolds’ license will be renewed. No evidence of neglect has been found at K&T Kennels.
Sims-Green also didn’t know whether any charges would be filed against Duckett. “That would have to be handled locally,” she said.
She said investigators found a number of problems at Duckett’s kennel.
“There were issues with ventilation, sanitation and humane care, with some of the dogs having severe matting,” she said. “Also, excess fecal matter and urine had soaked through the enclosures.”
But Aiken said the dogs are surprisingly healthy considering the environment they had been living in.
“They need some grooming and teeth cleaning, and some may be treated for ear infections or parasites,” he said.
All of the dogs will be spayed or neutered, and all will be given medicine to prevent them from developing mange, Aiken said.
“We (the humane society) will be footing the bill for this,” he said. “So our adoption fee will be higher than usual, to compensate for the added expense.”
The dogs are quarantined now and not available for public viewing, but Aiken said most of them probably will be ready to put up for adoption within 10 days.
Though the majority of the dogs are adults, Aiken said there also are a few puppies.
“We’ve got some 4-month-old dappled dachshund puppies that are just as cute as they can be,” he said. “Our staff spent all day (Thursday) getting all these dogs bathed and groomed, and they’re looking a lot prettier now.”