ASPCA Assists Pierce County Sheriff’s Office to Seize nearly 50 Dogs from Wisconsin Puppy Mill

Dogs now receiving urgent medical care
April 22, 2016

Elmwood, Wis.—The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and Animal Humane Society (AHS) are assisting the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office with the seizure of 48 dogs from a substandard, unlicensed breeding facility in Elmwood, Wis. The dogs were seized from the property Friday morning after warrants were served, and the owner of the facility was booked into the Pierce County Jail for mistreatment of animals, not providing proper food to confined animals and improper animal sheltering.

The 35 adults and 13 puppies, all yellow Labradors, were discovered living indoors in small, filthy travel crates, with no access to food or water. Numerous deceased animals were also found on the property. The ASPCA believes the facility to be a puppy mill--a large-scale breeding operation designed to generate profits at the cost of the animals’ health and well-being.

“What we saw here is no way for a dog to live,” said Kathryn Destreza, director of investigations for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The puppies at breeding facilities are sold for profit, but many people don’t realize that their parents are often kept there for years, subjected to incessant breeding and usually lacking basic care and socialization, resulting in a very poor quality of life.”

 “Large scale animal cruelty cases are not something that we encounter often here in Pierce County,” said Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove. “When we are made aware of any animal cruelty issues we do the best we can to investigate and hold accountable those responsible. This case started with a complaint from a concerned citizen who was appalled by the conditions these animals were exposed to. Deputies responded to the complaint and determined the allegations had merit. Citizens are encouraged to contact law enforcement when they are made aware of these situations so they can be addressed accordingly.”   

The dogs have been transported to AHS (Golden Valley, Minn.), where they are receiving urgent medical treatment from ASPCA and AHS veterinarians. At this time, the dogs are considered evidence and will be cared for by AHS responders until their custody is determined by the court. The ASPCA is also collecting forensic evidence and providing legal support to strengthen the case and ensure the best legal outcome for these dogs.

"We’re proud to be known as the go-to resource for investigations in this region," said Janelle Dixon, President & CEO of Animal Humane Society. "Our humane agents investigate hundreds of reports of animal cruelty and neglect each year. As a result, we have the experience and ability to care for large numbers of animals, and the medical and behavioral expertise to provide the specialized care these vulnerable animals need."

The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team has rescued thousands of 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. For more information about puppy mills and how to fight animal cruelty, join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade at