ASPCA Assists Hendry County Sheriff’s Office in Seizure of Nearly 100 Dogs from Florida Puppy MillDogs rescued from unlicensed breeding facility now receiving medical attention
Clewiston, Fla.—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Field Investigations and Response team is assisting at the request of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office with the removal, evidence collection, sheltering and medical care of approximately 100 dogs from a substandard, unlicensed breeding facility located at 166 Avenue Del Club in Clewiston, Fla. An investigation of the facility began after several complaints were made by individuals in the community. The owners of the facility—Beatriz Perez, age 46, and Alexei Fernandez, age 47—were arrested Monday morning on cruelty-related charges.
The dogs—spanning small and large breeds including Siberian Huskies, Chihuahuas and Poodles—were discovered living in crowded, filthy pens, many with little protection from the elements. Many dogs had no access to clean drinking water or food and were suffering from various medical conditions, including skin and eye disease and severe dental issues. The ASPCA believes the facility to be a puppy mill, a large-scale breeding operation, where profit is given priority over the well-being of the animals.
“This is a tragic situation we see all too often,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA Field Investigation and Response. “Puppy mills are a widespread issue across Florida and around the country. Many people are unaware that most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and that buying pet store puppies indirectly supports these facilities. While the puppies are sold for profit, their parents are kept at these mills for years, subjected to incessant breeding and a very poor quality of life. Our goal is to remove these dogs from a life of neglect, help them become healthy and eventually find them safe and loving homes.”
“We have no tolerance for animal cruelty in this county,” said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden. “Hopefully this case will send a message and prevent similar situations.”
The dogs are being transported to a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location, where they will receive medical care from ASPCA veterinarians. The ASPCA will continue to care for the dogs at the temporary shelter until custody of the dogs is determined by the court. Additionally, the ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy department is providing ongoing legal support for the criminal case.
Clewiston Animal Control, Texas Humane Heroes (Leander, Texas) and the Humane Society of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) are also assisting with the seizure and sheltering operation.
Florida is among a minority of states with no laws regulating the use of dogs for commercial breeding. The state also perpetuates puppy mill cruelty nationally by allowing its pet stores to sell dogs from some of the worst breeders around the country. 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 www.nopetstorepuppies.com.
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.