On February 5, 2010, under the authority and request of the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office, the ASPCA dispatched members of its Field Investigations and Response Team to assist in the investigation of a puppy mill operating in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
More than 95 dogs, including small breeds such as Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Pugs, Yorkshire Terriers, Corgis and Chihuahuas, as well as one cat, were seized from the property. The severely underweight animals were housed in feces—encrusted pens and suffering from neglect—skin disease, rotted teeth, malnutrition, fur matted with feces, and various other infections were rampant. Several dead adult dogs and puppies were also discovered on the property.
Our team of investigators worked with local authorities to collected evidence for prosecution of a criminal case and provided for the animals' immediate needs. Also on scene were the American Humane Association, Marshall County Humane Society, Mississippi State University and Collierville (TN) Humane Society, who assisted in transporting the animals to a nearby emergency shelter. The animals were triaged by a team of veterinarians including Dr. Rebecca Coleman; Dr. Phil Bushby, a faculty member at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. Kimberly Woodruff, also with Mississippi State.
"The ASPCA works in partnership with local groups to rescue animals like these from deplorable conditions," said Matt Bershadker, Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty for the ASPCA. "Without their support and collaboration, this crucial, life-saving work would not be possible."
Operation Super Bowl
Two days later, while folks around the country celebrated Super Bowl Sunday, the ASPCA was in festive spirits, as well; that day, 34 of the rescued dogs were flown to the Big Apple via Pet Airways. The remaining dogs were transported to other animal welfare agencies and ultimately made available for adoption.
Used as breeding stock, the rescued dogs had spent their entire lives confined to tiny wire cages, which inhibited natural behaviors like running, playing and even stretching. Novel sights, sounds and sensations were tremendously overwhelming for them, and simple behaviors like potty training, sitting on laps or even walking on a leash were challenging activities.
"We are glad to have been able to be part of another major, collaborative effort to rescue these dogs from such deplorable conditions," said Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President, ASPCA Adoptions Center.
Meet a Few of the Lucky 34!
These pups were rescued from the Holly Springs mill and brought to the ASPCA Adoption Center. The following videos show them during their time with the ASPCA; we’re pleased to report that today, they’re all living it up in their forever homes!
Betty and Wilma
On May 28, 2010, the ASPCA confirmed through the Marshall County Prosecutor's Office that 96 charges of misdemeanor animal cruelty were filed against the owners of the puppy mill John and Nancy Garrison.
In December 2011, we learned more good news: The Garrisons both pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Each was sentenced to six months in jail, 11 months and 29 days of supervised probation, and ordered to pay $26,847.14 in restitution to the ASPCA and $2,793.19 to the Marshall County Humane Society, which will be suspended pending successful completion of the probation terms. As part of the probation, the Garrisons are prohibited from owning, harboring and/or residing at any residence with animals for five years.
“I am pleased that the cases are concluded with a message sent to others who attempt such practices in Marshall County: that puppy mills and abuse to animals will not be tolerated,” said Shirley C. Byers of the Marshall Co. Prosecutor’s Office. “My greatest satisfaction is that the 96 dogs and one cat rescued from the defendants are now happily living in safe and loving homes.”
To learn how you can help fight puppy mills, visit www.nopetstorepuppies.com.
The ASPCA is extremely grateful to the shelters and organizations that have aided in the housing and future placement of these animals. We are honored to recognize their generosity. They include:
- Atlanta Humane Society
- Marshall County Humane Society
- Olive Branch Animal Shelter
- MS State University Homeward Bound program