UPDATE: The Humane Educational Society is caring for nearly 50 animals seized from a puppy mill in northeast Arkansas last week. The dogs and cats are in poor condition and in Chattanooga receiving emergency care. Many of them were malnourished, some starving to death after their owner died.
Officials say these animals have spent their entire lives in cages breeding puppies. Some of the dogs are deformed from inbreeding, abuse and confined spaces.
Chattanooga's Humane Educational Society has its hands full with dozens of dogs and cats receiving emergency care.
"We took in 42 dogs and 7 cats in regards to a puppy mill situation that happened over in northeast Arkansas last week. Now they're all here and we've worked on them ever since they arrived last Friday," said Executive Director Bob Citrullo, Humane Educational Society.
Citrullo tells us all of the animals have been bathed examined and vaccinated. He says 13 dogs have heart worms, nearly all of them have abscessed teeth or dental issues.
"A lot of times these animals don't even know what it feels like to walk on grass," said Citrullo.
Some of the dogs can barely walk.
"The big thing will be the teeth that we need to take care of and then there are some open wounds and we found some tumors that have to be removed," said Citrullo.
The surgeries and medication all come out of pocket. HES receives county funding to facilitate Hamilton County's animal control, but that money is not used in emergency rescues like this one.
"The money does not, for a rescue of this size or any rescue, does not come from those funds," said Citrullo. "It comes from fund raising we do. We receive approximately 50% of our budget for these contracts. The rest which equals $600,000- $700,000 I'm responsible to raise every year."
Citrullo says the shelter was the closest to the Arkansas puppy mill with vacancy. The animals have been released by an Arkansas court, making them available for adoption as soon as they are healthy.
"They just are starved for the attention, they just want to be with somebody so by the time we are done I think all of these are going to be a success story," said Citrullo. " I really do because they are going to make some great animals for people, we just have to get them over the hump now and take care of their issues."
Some of the rescues will need several more weeks of care, while others may be ready for adoption as early as next week.
HES sends animals that have not been adopted to other facilities out of state, in hopes they find a forever home. 49 local animals were sent to New Jersey and Wisconsin over the weekend and another 20 were sent to South Carolina today .Dozens more will be leaving later this week to make room for new animals in need of care.
PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga's Humane Educational Society is helping the Humane Society of the United States, Northeast Arkansas Humane Society and Greater Good to help rescue nearly 50 dogs from an Arkansas puppy mill.
Nearly 50 dogs rescued from an Arkansas puppy mill have been brought to Chattanooga. Volunteers tearing up as they unload them. @WRCBpic.twitter.com/0i0mZ8qNWO
All of the dogs found on the property were malnourished. Some were found starved to death, and many others required immediate lifesaving care. They will receive the appropriate vaccinations from Northeastern Arkansas Humane Society before traveling across state lines.
Many of the dogs were born with genetic defects due to inbreeding and lack of medical care.
"There's a little pug that they identified that was in such bad shape unfortunately he had to be euthanized but he had no lower jaw, but it was still there for one purpose only, and that was to breed and make them money," said Bob Citrullo, Executive Director of Chattanooga Humane Educational Society.
Once they arrive at HES Friday afternoon, they will be treated for severe neglect. HALO pet food will provide food for a feeding program to help them regain a healthy weight. Some of them have untreated ear, skin and eye infections.
Will take hours for volunteers to unload the 42 dogs, 7 cats & get them checked out. Right now they're getting much needed love. @WRCBpic.twitter.com/bxhkERbAcp
HES expects that it will be some time before any of the dogs are ready for adoption as they have physical and emotional wounds that need to heal.
Some dogs might be ready for adoption in a few weeks, while others could take months.
"We need help financially to take care of these animals, and that's what I'm doing right now, I'm asking for support from the local community people that care like you and I, about these animals and really want to make a difference and an impact," Citrullo said.