ASPCA Assists Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office to Seize More Than 130 Dogs from Alabama Puppy Mill

Neglected dogs to receive medical care, behavioral enrichment at ASPCA temporary shelter
March 4, 2015

Choctaw, Ala.—At the request of the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is assisting in the removal, transport, sheltering and medical treatment of more than 130 dogs from a large, substandard breeding facility—frequently referred to as a puppy mill—in Needham, Ala.

Upon arriving at the facility, ASPCA responders discovered the dogs—including Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers and Pomeranians—living in filthy, deplorable conditions. Many of the dogs are malnourished and suffering from medical issues such as hypothermia, dehydration, dental disease and painful ocular damage resulting in blindness. The remains of puppies were also found on the property. The dogs were being housed in ramshackle kennels on properties owned by Rebecca Miller and Janice Freeman.

Both owners of the facility were detained Wednesday morning and cruelty charges are expected to follow. Law enforcement also discovered illegal drugs and nearly $20,000 in cash on the property. The arrests and seizure are the result of an investigation that began after local authorities received numerous complaints about conditions at the breeding facility. Several dogs acquired from the facility were discovered to be severely ill soon after purchase.

“It’s clear that profit was put above the well-being of these dogs,” said Tim Rickey, vice president for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “As is the case with most puppy mills, these dogs were treated as products for sale and not valued as living beings. They’ve gone most of their lives without basic necessities or positive human interaction. We will provide them with much-needed medical attention and socialization and hope to place them with animal shelters to be made available for adoption once custody is determined.”

“Without the ASPCA, we wouldn’t have the resources or capabilities to provide for these hundreds of animals,” said Choctaw County Sheriff Scott Lolley. “The ASPCA has been a great aid to us in putting forth the effort and wherewithal to rescue these dogs.”

The ASPCA has established a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location where the dogs will receive veterinary exams and care along with behavioral enrichment from the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior team. The ASPCA forensics team is also collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. The Montgomery Humane Society has played an instrumental part in the operation, assisting with the removal and logistics of the seizure. 

The ASPCA’s new Medical Animal Surgical Hospital (MASH)—a custom-built, mobile medical unit—will allow veterinarians to provide critical care to dogs on-site. The vehicle includes exam tables, a surgical suite and technology allowing for immediate diagnostics.

Agencies assisting the ASPCA with the seizure, transport and sheltering operation include: Capital Area Humane Society (Columbus, Ohio); Charleston Animal Society (North Charleston, S.C.); Davis County Animal Services (Fruit Heights, Utah); Florida Disaster Animal Response and Transport (Bushnell, Fla.); Humane Society of Greater Savannah (Georgia); Humane Society of Vero Beach & Indian River County (Vero Beach, Fla.); Kansas Humane Society (Wichita, Kan.); MSPCA-Angell (Boston, Mass.); McKamey Animal Center (Chattanooga, Tenn.); Monadnock Humane Society (Swanzey, N.H.); Montgomery Humane Society (Alabama); Quincy Humane Society (Quincy, Ill.); Saving Slim Foundation (Escondido, Calif.); Stephen Memorial Animal Shelter (Oskaloosa, Iowa); Texas Humane Heroes (Leander, Texas); Washington Animal Rescue League (Washington, D.C.); and Wayside Waifs (Kansas City, Mo.).

Additionally, PetSmart Charities® has provided supplies, including treats, enrichment toys, pet crates and food to support the rescue operation.

The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team has rescued countless dogs from puppy mills across the nation. Furthermore, the ASPCA’s Government Relations department has been active in promoting legislation at both the state and federal levels to strengthen regulations and raise minimum standards of care for dogs in puppy mills. Alabama is one of only 20 states without any regulations in place to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities. The ASPCA’s national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign seeks to raise awareness about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores to end the demand for puppy mill dogs. For more information about puppy mills and how to fight animal cruelty, visit