National response to Bradley Co suspected puppy mill - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

National response to Bradley Co suspected puppy mill

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CHARLESTON (WRCB) - Help from the national level has come to Bradley County to nurse hundreds of dogs back to health. Last week, the Bradley County Sheriff's Office discovered around 240 dogs living in filthy conditions.

They were found at a home on Candies Creek Road in McDonald. Many are facing serious medical problems. The owner, Rebecca Vanmeter, has been charged with one count of animal cruelty.   

It took a few days to get all the dogs off Vanmeter's property, where she ran a breeding business. The national humane society has received complaints before but there was no evidence of bad living conditions. That was until*the sheriff's department was called out last week on a domestic dispute.

Teams of veterinarians are now evaluating the dogs and sharing with investigators how much some have suffered.

From rotting teeth, to eye infections, to mange so bad they're bald, veterinarians are finding all sorts of problems, inside and out.

"We're seeing a lot of medical issues. We've only just started the full exams," The Human Society of the U.S. Director of Animal Cruelty Response Adam Parascandola said.

The Humane Society of the United States stepped in, opening up an emergency shelter at an old store building they're leasing in Charleston for the short-term.

"We get a lot of requests from around the country for assistance and so we really look for where our resources are most badly needed," Parascandola said.

More than a hundred dogs are there, while others were dispersed to other local rescue groups. They say while it's a heartbreaking sight to see, they know this is the good part of it all.

"These dogs have a wonderful opportunity for a new life because they have these resources to get the very best care," said Beth Foster with the SPCA of Bradley County.

National groups are funding this immediate care, but the SPCA of Bradley County says thousands of dollars already received from local donors will go to continued care for the ones that stay in the area for adoption.

"I know there's some frustration that these dogs aren't available yet but we just want to make sure they're in the very best condition and that we get them into the right homes," Foster said.

Investigators with the Bradley County Sheriff's Office are on-site to learn more about their conditions.

"They have free access to whatever medical findings our vets find," Parascandola said.

Workers hope this case serves as a warning for anyone who considers buying a dog online.

"If you're looking at getting a dog, just be aware that what you see on the web site is not always what the conditions are where the dogs are found," Parascandola said.

For people who want to adopt the puppies currently at the emergency shelter, you can go ahead and fill out an application with the SPCA, and be put on a waiting list until the dogs are ready. That will be at least another week.
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