Puppies seized from farm in rural Arthur

Puppies seized from farm in rural Arthur

ARTHUR – Douglas and Macon County animal control officials seized 55 dogs and puppies being raised at an alleged puppy mill at a rural Arthur farm on Friday morning.

At least three of the 55 dogs were pregnant.

Douglas County Animal Control Administrator Kathleen McManamon said on Friday afternoon that she was in the process of filing a report to Douglas County State's Attorney Kevin Nolan for possible prosecution.

McManamon said the name of the man running the alleged puppy mill and the address of the facility would not be released until criminal charges have been filed.

Since Douglas County's animal shelter is too small to handle 55 dogs and puppies, the animals have been taken to the Macon County Animal Control and Care Center in Decatur.

Macon County Shelter manager Teresa Weybright said she received a tip on Monday afternoon that somebody was operating a puppy mill in the country east of Arthur.

According to McManamon, a puppy mill is defined as "a large-scale breeding operation in which the dogs receive little food, little water, no veterinary care, poor housing and consistent breeding over and over again with the intent of making profit from the sale of puppies."

The location was outside of the Macon County Animal Control's jurisdiction, but Weybright decided to head to the location on Tuesday, which was her day off.

"When I arrived at the home, I saw a big sign reading, 'Cockers for sale,'" Weybright said. "I went in and asked the man there if he had any puppies. I didn't tell him I worked for the animal shelter."

Weybright said she was shocked at what she called "horrific" conditions where the dogs and puppies were housed.

Numerous dogs were kept in small kennels with wire floors in a hut, and some had no food or water.

Weybright said the wire cages were stacked three high and were so small there was barely room for the animals to stand or move.

"There were at least two dead puppies in one cage, and the owner tried to push their feet back up," Weybright said. "The man was trying to pressure me to buy a puppy, but I said I had to talk it over first with my husband and went home."

Weybright reported the situation to the Humane Society of Illinois, who referred the case to Douglas County Animal Control, which had jurisdiction of the case.

McManamon explained that Douglas County didn't have enough facilities to take care of 55 dogs, so Weybright contacted Capt. Steve Jones with the Macon County sheriff's office.

"I asked what we could do to help these dogs," Weybright said. "These dogs were going to die down there unless we acted soon."

Macon County officials soon agreed to assist Douglas County Animal Control with the situation, and the Macon County Animal Shelter agreed to accept the dogs and puppies.

At about 10:30 a.m. Friday, Weybright and her chief warden, Roy Austin, took two trucks, preloaded with numerous clean cages, and drove to Arthur to meet McManamon.

"We pulled in and began to impound the dogs," Weybright said. "McManamon spoke with the owner and convinced him to surrender the dogs to us."

Weybright and McManamon said among the 55 dogs were three mother Lhasa Apsos, one with a litter of five puppies, one with a litter of six puppies and one with a litter of seven puppies.

"There were at least two very pregnant cocker spaniels and a pregnant Chihuahua," Weybright said.

They also found an assortment of poodles, other cocker spaniels, Lhasa Apsos and one schnauzer mix, Weybright said.

"What I saw today shocked me both as a member of this community and as a veterinarian," McManamon said. "No animal should be treated so poorly, and I am committed to seeing that these dogs get a better life and those responsible for these conditions are brought to justice."

Weybright said her staff will spend the next week assessing the dogs that were seized from the Arthur farm.

"These dogs have had no socialization, so we'll have to give them a lot of love," she said. "They have no idea that a human isn't going to hurt them.

"They all need baths, and we will give them heartworm tests. They were all covered with fleas and their own urine and feces. One Chihuahua's leg is limping. We've got a poodle with an old wound in her foot from being caught in a crate."

Weybright said the dogs will eventually be made available for adoption.

"The older adults will be harder to find homes for because they have never been anybody's pet," Weybright said. "Today was a great day because we were able to rescue these dogs from this inhumane treatment."