We all know about the incredibly deplorable conditions of puppy mills, most of us have seen the videos but even now and then there will still be something that really gets to you. This is one of those times for me. Today in Chicago police raided a house in the 6400 block of South Bell and discovered dozens and dozens of small breed dogs and puppies; Maltese, miniature Pinschers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Yorkies and other “high end” breeds.
These animals were living in bird cages, stacked one on top on another, living in their own feces. Watching the video you saw tiny little faces so scared and intimidated that it just broke my heart. You could see that these dogs and puppies were just pathetic. Most of them, unlike your average dog, didn’t wag a tail, they just scrunched deeper into their tiny little cage, their eyes terrified. Dogs and puppies stuck in playpens, corralled in enclosures, stuck in closets, on porches, outside, all over the house. Many of the dogs were too big for the little birdcages they were in. You could see some of them just turning in circles. Just heartbreaking!
“The dogs were stacked in cages, no food, no water. They were walking around in their own feces,” said Cook County Sheriff’s Police spokesman Steve Patterson. “They’re being kept in bird cages; some of the puppies are too big for them. Some are being kept in playpens.
“I couldn’t believe it. Honest to God, the chaos, the noise, the smell. Honestly, I was very concerned about stepping on one of the dogs, because they were running all around my feet,” said Sheriff Tom Dart.
Demetria Newell, 39, was charged with 67 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Dart says Newell was apparently selling the designer puppies for $475 or more each.
“They were stacked four or five on top of each other with the feces from the dog above them falling down below them in some cases,” said Dart.
From the vials and syringes in the house, it looked like she was also practicing some kind of rudimentary veterinary medicine as well.
“It appears the owner was also conducting her own veterinary clinic,” Patterson said.
“Antibiotics and stuff like this. It looks like they were doing a lot of it themselves. So I don’t know. I don’t think they actually took them out to any vets,” said Dart.
Her boyfriend, David Hayes, 37, was charged with one felony count of marijuana possession. Police found a pound of marijuana during their search. They also turned up a gun and a few thousand dollars in cash.
“They ran a business out of their house (through) word-of-mouth, repeat customers,” Chicago Police Animal Crime Team Sgt. Mark Georg said.
The front window of the house had a sign with a dog on it, kind of a “open for business” sign. Seems this was a well known operation in the neighborhood.
Apparently, someone could drive up to the house, go up to a window, give their credit card and pay for a puppy. One neighbor said they were paying as much as $1,000 for the puppies.
The sheriff department was tipped about the alleged puppy mill over a week ago and raided the home on Tuesday morning. They also found several dead puppies disposed of in the back of the home in a large garbage can.
The dogs have been taken to the city Department of Animal Care and Control where they will be evaluated. In general though, the dogs and puppies did not seem to be in too bad of shape unlike the house which was deplorable.
The dogs and puppies will be moved to shelters after they are examined and once they are cleaned up and deemed ready, they will be adopted out to homes.
Hopefully this will shut down one more puppy miller. I applaud every time I see the poor babies rescued from these horrible conditions. Luckily in this case, the dogs seem to be in relatively decent shape, all the better that they can get into good home, get socialized and learn what it is to be a dog rather than just a breeding machine.
Although it’s highly unlikely that Newell will face much punishment, authorities estimate that her “inventory” was worth about 30K… and maybe she will at least face some stiff fines since jail time is pretty much not going to happen. I just get so angry at these people who think these dogs are nothing the a paycheck for them. I’d like to slap them in a tiny cage and force them to deal with the same conditions and treatment they force these dog to endure. That might be justice! I keep telling myself that in the end justice will be served but dammit, I want them to face it in the here and now just like those poor dogs face hell on earth!