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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