In October 2011, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team headed to Rowan County, Kentucky, to help care for 118 small-breed dogs including Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Papillons, Min Pins and Poodles—several pregnant and some just a few weeks old—who were removed from filthy, cramped cages on October 6.
The dogs were discovered after the Rowan County Attorney’s Office received complaints about the facility.
The dogs finally received the care they desperately needed; many of them were found covered in mold and matted fur, suffering from infection, dental disease and various other ailments.
An ASPCA emergency sheltering team and other veterinary experts helped care for and assess the dogs at the Rowan County Animal Shelter. ASPCA responders also completed thorough evaluations of the rescued animals and helped local authorities collect evidence to support criminal charges against the mill’s owner.
In order to house the puppy mill rescues at the Rowan County Animal Shelter in Morehead, Kentucky, responders needed to create space at the facility.
So, working with our Shelter Response Partnership network, we transported 27 dogs to the Capital Area Humane Society in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey.
The ASPCA’s Shelter Response Partnership network is a coalition of national and local agencies that provide a second chance for animals rescued from overcrowded facilities and cruelty investigations.
Because they were part of an ongoing criminal investigation, the dogs were not immediately made available for adoption. At an ASPCA temporary shelter, they received veterinary care, treats, toys and loads of human kindness.
The owner of the puppy mill dogs, Patricia Blevins, was arrested October 19, 2011. Blevins, 58, spent a night in jail before being released on bail. She was charged with 46 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one count of kennel mismanagement related to keeping more than 100 dogs in overcrowded conditions outside her mobile home in Morehead.
That wasn't Blevins’ first time in court for animal cruelty; she was reportedly charged with the crime in 2004, but the charges against her were dropped when her husband was convicted.
In March 2012, Blevins pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one kennel violation, and finally turned the dogs over to the ASPCA.
Soon after, we transported the dogs (including some new puppies) to shelter partners including the Kentucky Humane Society in Louisville; the Richmond SPCA in Virginia; St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey; and the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C. Shelter partners reported that most of the dogs were snapped up almost instantly and are now enjoying loving homes!