ASPCA Manages Triage, Sheltering of 175 Dogs Rescued from Puppy Mill in Hot Springs, Ark.

<p>Responders provide daily care of animals in Garland County Sheriff’s Office’s animal cruelty investigation</p>
November 10, 2011

NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), at the request of the Garland County Sheriff's Office, has spent the past three days managing the medical triage and sheltering of 175 dogs removed from a puppy mill facility on November 7 in Hot Springs, Ark. The animals are currently housed at an emergency shelter where veterinary and sheltering teams, led by ASPCA medical director Dr. Rhonda Windham, are assessing, diagnosing, treating and providing enrichment for the dogs.

Many of the dogs exhibited various signs of neglect and suffered from skin problems and flea infestation, among other medical conditions. Several deceased dogs were discovered on the property, and were sent for forensic necropsies to determine the causes of death.

"One of our concerns was the spread of deadly diseases, and we were able to complete forensic examinations and provide vaccinations to all dogs seized from the property," said Dr. Windham, medical director of the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response team. "The forensic examinations are being processed and will be submitted to the Garland County Sheriff's Office to support their investigation. We will continue to monitor the conditions of these animals and provide supportive medical treatments and environmental enrichment while they are being housed at our emergency shelter."

A search warrant was executed on November 7 for the removal of the dogs, and Pam Thomas, the owner of the facility, was subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty. This came after a two-year investigation led by Garland County Sheriff's Investigator, Corporal Angela Graybeal. The Garland County Sheriff's Office, through undercover visits and purchases, and with support from investigators with the Humane Society of Garland County, in cooperation with Stop Animal Cruelty, determined that Ms. Thomas was operating a puppy mill.

"Any additional charges against Ms. Thomas will be determined based on the medical conditions reported by the ASPCA," said Lieutenant James Martin of the Garland County Sheriff's Office. "The Garland County Sheriff's Office appreciates the outpour of support from the community, and hopes these animals can move on to a better place soon."

The ASPCA's anti-cruelty behavior team will be conducting evaluations of the animals in order to assess each animal's personality and temperament. The ASPCA will work on placement of the animals once the final disposition has been determined by the prosecutor.

More than 30 responders are assisting with the daily care of the animals, including staff and volunteers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Humane Society of Garland County. The operation is also being supported by PetSmart Charities, Inc., which provided much-needed sheltering supplies for the ASPCA's emergency shelter.