GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Close to 170 animals were removed from a suspected puppy mill in Alcorn County, MS Wednesday. And it wasn't just dogs and cats. Horses, ducks, chickens, roosters, bunnies, goats, a donkey and a miniature pig were all found living in filthy conditions without proper food or clean water.
Officials with the Alcorn-Corinth Animal Shelter said they became concerned after receiving several complaints about animals being sold at a flea market in Tupelo.
Wednesday morning, the Alcorn County Sheriff's Department served warrants on two properties and found nearly 123 dogs and puppies in wire cages. Officials said many of the animals were underweight and suffering from untreated medical conditions, including dental, eye, ear and skin problems. Two dogs were found dead.
Humane Society of the United States Public Information Officer Kaitlin Sanderson said a second site held 71 dogs, along with cats, goats, a donkey and a pig. HSSM's Krystyna Schmitt described the trailer where the animals were found as, "the worst case of hoarding, plus some."
The two sites were unrelated, but only about 10 minutes apart. The owners agreed to surrender most of the animals.
"These animals were living unimaginable lives for far too long – no animal should ever have to suffer like they did," said Lydia Sattler, Mississippi state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "We're thankful to Alcorn-Corinth Animal Shelter and the Alcorn County Sheriff's Department for stepping up to help these animals."
Workers with the Humane Society of South Mississippi were in Alcorn County helping with the rescue. Schmitt said 53 dogs were removed from the first site and taken to the shelter in Gulfport. Of those, Schmitt said 15 were puppies.
Schmitt said the dogs were held on a large piece of property in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. She said the barn where the animals were held had no ventilation, and there were maggots swarming under the kennels.
This was the second largest rescue in HSSM history. Schmitt said the total cost of the rescue is $65,000.
Charlotte Doehner, director and board president of Alcorn-Corinth Animal Shelter, said, "This rescue really exemplifies the need for stronger animal cruelty laws. I'm grateful that we could provide relief for these animals today. And I'm so appreciative of all of the groups that came together to help give them the care they deserve."The animals will be thoroughly examined by teams of veterinarians and receive any necessary medical treatment. The dogs will be moved to the Humane Society of South Mississippi and the other animals will be moved to the Mississippi Animal Rescue League and other care providers in the state.
The HSUS, Alcorn-Corinth Animal Shelter, All Animal Clinic, Atlanta Humane Society, Heinz Veterinary Services, the Humane Society of South Mississippi, Loving Friends Transport, Mississippi Animal Rescue League, Southern Pines Animal Shelter and local veterinarians assisted law enforcement with the rescue and removal of all the animals.
HSSM is asking for donation of paper towels, bleach wipes and bath towels. They are also accepting monetary donations.