183 animals rescued from suspected Jefferson County puppy mill

JEFFERSON COUNTY - A search warrant was served at the home off Mail Route road to James and Tara Best. The sheriff's office called in the Humane Society of the United States to help them gather the animals and take them to shelters.{}

A neighbor tells Channel Seven, the Best are good people with good hearts who pick up strays and take care of them. However Lafayette Woods, Jr., a spokesperson with the Jefferson County Sheriff's office says the address is listed as Busy B Pets. He says, "The evidence will show animals were actually being sold from this property for profit. We know that this is not a case of a few animals that got out of hand as pets."

He adds, "I worked as a veterinary assistant for 6 years, I have seen animals come in that were malnourished but I have never seen animals and the conditions like this before."{}

Major Woods says it is estimated it will cost $100,000 to temporarily house all the animals at local shelters. "The couple will be issued citations, Class A misdemeanor for cruelty to animals. But I am confident in saying that based on the conditions and the animals, those charges will likely be upgraded to aggravated animal cruelty which is a felony."

Neighbors tell Channel Seven they are concerned their missing dogs are being used for breeding at the alleged puppy mill.

VIDEO of some of the Dogs [Push Play]{}

One hundred twenty one dogs and more than 60 other animals were rescued from a suspected Jefferson County, Ark., puppy mill after authorities discovered them living in filth and suffering from a lack of basic care.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office called in The Humane Society of the United States and other area organizations, including Central Arkansas Rescue Efforts for Animals, The Humane Society of Saline County, Out of the Woods, Red Rover and Sallis Ranch Large Animal Rescue, Inc., to assist in the rescue and removal the animals.

The sheriff's office served a search warrant on the property and found that the animals were being housed in deplorable living conditions. Numerous dogs were living in an outdoor facility, while others were confined inside trailers on the property. Many of the animals were living in feces and filth and did not have access to clean water or food.

Tia Pope, manager of puppy mill response for The HSUS said: "No animal should ever be forced to live in conditions like this. We're thankful to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for taking action and letting us help rescue these animals. Now, they'll get the opportunity to live happy, healthy lives."

In addition, rescuers found more than 60 other animals, including 11 exotic birds, 19 chickens, 20 horses and multiple cats, bunnies and turtles on the property. Some of the animals were in need of immediate medical care; others were underweight, suffering from eye conditions and dental problems.

Sheriff Gerald Robinson said: "Irresponsible breeders fuel the animal overpopulation crisis, but through the concerted efforts of our office along with The HSUS, we are relieved that all animals rescued today can now receive the care that they've so desperately needed. These animals will no longer be subjected or forced to live in such deplorable conditions that we consider a 'sanitary nuisance.' Considering the cost associated with the shelter and veterinarian expenses of the rescued animals, our agency would not have been able to sustain the financial burden without the direct involvement of The HSUS."

The HSUS' Animal Rescue Team has removed all of the animals from the property pending the final disposition of this case. At the temporary emergency shelter, the animals will be thoroughly examined by a team of veterinarians, and will receive any necessary immediate medical treatment.

PetSmart Charities is providing the necessary food, supplies and enrichment items for the dogs.{} This raid was made possible, in part because of the generosity of Louis Dorfman, a dedicated constituent, advocate and supporter of The HSUS.

Arkansas is one of the most problematic puppy mill states in the country and currently there is no law to protect these dogs, As a result, Arkansas has become a haven for some of the worst operators in the country. The HSUS will be working with lawmakers to pursue legislation to change this in 2015.


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