Puppy Mill Dogs Are Headed Up And Down East Coast

The dogs seized from a Wayne County puppy mill are headed to various rescue shelters up and down the East Coast.

The United States Humane Society, which has custody of the 283 dogs taken from Thornton Kennels in Mount Olive last week, arranged for mostly out-of-area rescue agencies to help as animal shelters in Eastern Carolina are already overwhelmed.

Humane Society officials tell WITN they have spent more than $60- thousand in the last week on the animals and rescue operation.

They also say the dogs are doing very well and should make good pets.

This rescue operation has taken a huge amount of resources. If you'd like to help, you can make a donation to the Wayne County Animal Shelter or the United States Humane Society. (The links are below.)

Here are some of the places the animals are going: Washington D.C. Animal Rescue League, Montgomery County Humane Society, SPCA Tampa Bay, Dachshund Rescue of North America, Norfolk SPCA, Chihuahua Rescue and Transport, Pawfect Match Rescue, The Sterile Feral, Richmond SPCA, Humane Society of Charlotte and the SPCA of Wake County.

It's expected a full list of places helping the dogs and contact information will be posted later this week. We'll have a link.

Previous story, February 11, 2009:

Animal rescue teams from North Carolina and beyond are arriving in Wayne County to pick up the dogs rescued from Thornton Kennels in Mount Olive.

Officials say the Humane Society of the United States is still finalizing the list of agencies which will be taking the dogs, and as soon as the list is completed, HSUS will post that information on its website. (WITN will also post a link.)

"We are still receiving hundreds of calls from people throughout the state and country who believe we are in custody of these animals," said Justin Scally, Director of the Wayne County Animal Shelter. "Custody has transferred to the HSUS. As soon as the HSUS posts the list of agencies, we will put that information on our website."

The dogs were transferred to the Humane Society of the United States for a number of reasons.

"We still have a large number of dogs and cats that come through our facility," said Scally, speaking about the Wayne County Aimal Shelter.
"Approximately 7,000 each year. I can't - in good conscience- euthanize any of those animals simply to make space for these dogs - when I know HSUS can find good homes for each of the animals seized from Thornton kennels."

Scally went on to say the Humane Society will also pay for medical care and spay and neuter each of the animals.

"For all the people within driving distance of our facility who are looking to adopt a dog - I encourage them to come here and adopt one of the many other dogs we have in our shelter that need loving homes," he said.

Previous Story, 2/9/2009:

GOLDSBORO, NC - A kennel owner has agreed to give up ownership of some 300 dogs seized Friday in Wayne County.

In a settlement reached Tuesday afternoon, Virginia Thorton gave up custody in return for Wayne County authorities dropping civil charges against the dog breeder.

The Humane Society says after making sure all the dogs are spayed and neutered, they will place the animals up for adoption.

“Today’s surrender is a victory for these 283 dogs, who will soon be on their way to becoming the treasured pets they were always meant to be,” said Scotlund Haisley, senior director of Emergency Services at The HSUS.

A spokesperson for the organization says the Humane Society won't rest until criminal charges are filed, Thorton is placed out of business and stricter laws against puppy mills are put into effect in North Carolina.

District attorney Branny Vickory will now have to decide whether criminal charges should be brought against Thorton. The Humane Society says the D.A. was given the case information after today's settlement was reached.

The Humane Society says the 283 dogs will be transported over the next few days to humane groups across the region. The animal group says the dogs will then begin the social and physical rehabilitation necessary to ready them for their new lives as family pets.

“I am amazed at the unprecedented outpouring of compassion and dedication that we have seen in this rescue mission,” said Justin Scally, director of the Department of Animal Control for Wayne County. “It would have been impossible for us to save these animals without the support of all of the organizations and volunteers involved.”

Previous Story

The woman accused of housing hundreds of puppies in horrible conditions at a kennel in Mount Olive in Wayne County is set to appear in court Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Humane Society told WITN they will be testifying against Virginia Thornton in a Goldsboro court room Tuesday. That's when a judge may decide who gets custody of the 300 puppies rescued Friday from what's being called the state's largest puppy mill. Two of the dogs have already died.

The humane society says they have a ton of adoption requests already and hope to start the process as soon as possible.

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  • by Chuck Location: MountOlive on Mar 28, 2009 at 04:57 AM
    People seem to care more about animals than people.
  • by fran anderson Location: maryland on Mar 4, 2009 at 07:06 AM
    puppy mills are cruelty camps for dogs and need to be made illegal, its time to end breeding for greed and make abetter world for our beloved dogs.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 14, 2009 at 04:58 AM
    To ALPHA female. you have nothing against animals living in tiny cages in their own filth, being denied health care and healthy living conditions, just the price that places like that charge? Have to say that is different.
  • by ~ALPHA female~ Location: O84P on Feb 13, 2009 at 09:49 PM
    Everyone has a choice of where they get their animals from. I have nothing against the puppy mills or breeders except for the extravagant price tag for a pet. Two years ago I could have purchased a blue point Siamese kitten for $400.00, but instead my family went to the shelter in Washington. And you know what? We adopted a cat that was going to be put down that same day. I paid $35.00 for him... and he does the same thing a $400.00 cat does. He walks in front of me, he gets in the window, he bites the apples on the table, he gets drunk off of cat nip, he plays in brown bags... but there is one difference. When we went to the shelter... he stuck his paw out of the cage, and he grabbed at us and meowed over and over until we noticed him. When we were told that was his last day... I knew we found our cat. Animals at the shelter are so grateful... as if they know you've given them a second chance. I guess papers are suppose to make a difference.. not to me!
  • by Howdy Location: Washington on Feb 13, 2009 at 07:04 PM
    To Jim and Kitty: No, I wasn't in Beaufort county, I went to the humane society on the edge of Greenville. And they are a no kill, they only euthanize when medically necessary. I know of one cat that they had for well over 2 years, she was finally adopted last week. It is a very nice place. I intend on volunteering there over the summer. I paid 75$ to adopt my furbaby, and it was well worth it. He was fixed and up to date on all shots. I definitely couldn't have found a vet that cheap. I really wanted to bring home Zara, but I already had one cat, and Zara needs to be an only. Shelter pets make very good pets, and I encourage everyone to adopt rather than buy from a puppy mill or the like. When you adopt you are giving an animal a new lease on life. Also, if you agree to get them spayed or neutered please follow through. A fixed pet is a healthy pet!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 13, 2009 at 10:05 AM
    Marilyn, very well said about being informed about where you donate your money. If it is a rescue or humane socitey, go out to the facility, meet the the animals you will be helping, just like buying a dog from a breeder, you should be able to visit to see how all the animal are being kept and treated.
  • by Marilyn Location: North Carolina on Feb 13, 2009 at 08:48 AM
    HSUS have no shelters just lots of money from people that think they are doing a great job for dogs. They put to death more than the shelters. This is a State problem leave it to the State not a National organization. The state needs to inforce the laws on the books not make more. Puppy Mills are not Breeders. Breeders take care of their dogs or cats and belong to National groups and show their animals. Peta does not want anyone to own animals not even service animals or police or search and rescue, and yet they are in the paper all the time as if they are doing something great. Read up be informed and watch where you donate your money.
  • by Wondering Location: Maryland on Feb 13, 2009 at 04:10 AM
    Are the rescue groups charging the fee of Wayne County animal control to adopt at $50.00 for female animals and $35.00 for male animals as their web site indicates for a normal adoption? Or higher like $250- $350 per pup? Rescue a dog at a kill shelter please.
  • by Jim Location: Washington on Feb 12, 2009 at 09:40 PM
    Holly, as one rescuer to another...Well said. I also found the cats Howdy is talking about on the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina's webpage.
  • by Holly Location: Wilson on Feb 12, 2009 at 05:11 PM
    Many of these puppy mill animals will need months of care to get the to the point that they will be able to adjust to normal life as a companion animal. Sending these dogs to breed rescues is the best way to be sure that they are placed in the right home given their previous experiences (imagine living in a rabbit cage for 6-8 years just to have litter after litter). There are so many in the local shelters, if you go regularly, you will find a doxie or a chihuahua or just about any breed you can imagine. As a rescuer in Wilson, I implore anyone thinking about buying a dog to go to the breeder's facility, meet the parents of the pups and be sure that these are responsible breeders or you could just be supporting the mills like the one in Mt Olive. NEVER buy from a pet store! Those puppies are almost always the product of a puppy mill. Yes, you feel sorry for them but you are allowing it to continue.

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