Yesterday, The HSUS assisted the Wolfeboro Police Department with a puppy mill intervention not on a farm in Arkansas or a shack in North Carolina (two states where we’ve done major actions to help dogs), but rather in a mansion in northern New England. It is one of the most unexpected puppy mill operations our Animal Rescue Team has helped uncover – with 84 Great Danes caged inside a cavernous home where they should have been treated like canine kings and queens.
The mansion looked stately and opulent from the outside, but when our team entered the dwelling, they discovered something totally at odds with the elegant facade. They told me that the first thing that hit them was an overpowering rancid and putrid smell, with ammonia levels so high in some rooms that the rescuers’ eyes teared up. There were feces and debris smeared across all the walls to the point where the windows were opaque.
There were big dogs who had spent countless hours in cages. There was no sign of available water, just some remains of raw chicken parts strewn around the dogs.
When we think of puppy mills, we think of small breeds, such as Yorkshire terriers, French bulldogs, or Bichon Frises. Here we had one of the biggest of dog breeds, with their big paws, droopy faces, and friendly manner. But time and lack of care had changed some of their features. Some animals were underweight and looked sad or broken. Their paws were especially large, even for Great Danes, and appeared to be infected. Others had irritated eyes, made bright red or swollen shut like human boxers that had taken too many hits in a long fight.
Our team members said they are as large as ponies. One five-foot-tall rescuer said she stood eye to eye with some of the dogs.