Update: Humane Society: Largest Puppy Mill Raid In North Carolina

Approximately 300 dogs were seized from a kennel in southern Wayne County Friday morning after authorities say they found the animals in deplorable conditions.

Loftus/The HSUS

A spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States tells WITN that two of the puppies taken in the early morning raid have died.

Spokesperson Scotlund Haisley says this should be expected when animals are not well taken care of.

He goes on to say that two other puppies have been taken out of the emergency shelter into a hospital for animals.

"Medical examines were completed today, " Haisley said. He goes on to say that some information found in the examines will go into evidence against Virgina Thornton who is the owner of the dogs that were taken.

Underneath is the original story.

MOUNT OLIVE, NC - Hundreds of dogs were taken from a suspected puppy mill today in Eastern Carolina in what is being called the biggest puppy mill raid ever in North Carolina.

Friday morning approximately 300 dogs were seized from Thorton Kennels in Mount Olive, that's in Wayne County.

County animal control supervisor Justin Scally says they filed a civil injunction against Virginia Thorton, claiming the woman willfully deprived the animals of a proper living environment.

"I can finally rest easy knowing that these animals are no longer living in constant confinement," Scally said.

Rescuers say when they arrived at the property they were greeted by a gruesome scene. The dogs, mainly Lhasa Apso, Shih-Tzus and Chihuahuas, were suffering from serious medical ailments and housed in filthy conditions.

Animal control says many of the dogs were emaciated, had untreated lacerations, severely matted fur and serious skin and eye infections. Authorities say they were being housed in unheated cages inside unventilated barns and outhouses.

"These animals were denied basic veterinary care and socialization. This terrible cruelty could have been avoided if North Carolina had laws addressing the puppy mill industry," said Amanda Arrington, North Carolina state director for The Humane Society.

The Humane Society of the United States was called in for assistance after authorities realized just how many animals were involved.

A web site for Thorton Kennels says it specializes in small breed dogs and has been in operation for almost 35 years.

A Humane Society official tells WITN News that they are talking to the kennel owner about custody of the dogs. The official say they have asked the owner to surrender custody of the dogs. If that does not happen, the Humane Society said there will be a hearing Tuesday.

Once custody is resolved, the Humane Society says it will work with its local chapters and other rescue agencies in North Carolina so the animals can be adopted.

Thornton faces a hearing Tuesday in Goldsboro on the civil injunction.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Shelly Location: Seattle on Jun 9, 2010 at 01:44 AM
    Lisa, mange is not genetic. It is a parasite, parasites CANNOT be genetic. duh. You can't inherit bugs in your genotype. lol That may be why you have spent 4k on it, you need a new vet!
  • by lacey Location: brooklyn ny on Jun 3, 2010 at 11:37 AM
    hello my name is lacey i am a fan of animals but i am a vet technision and i stoped a puppy mill three years ago you could not believe the conditions they were in! i met this verey cute dog named downer she died because she was being eaten by fleas!!!!!!!! it is so sad to watch dogs suffer like this
  • by Lisa Location: Wilmington NC on Jul 22, 2009 at 08:06 AM
    We got a puppy from Thorton's in 2007. She should be put in a cage like the animals were. The only reason I got the puppy was my heart went out for the puppy. The place was NASTY. Gracie is 2 1/2 now, we have spent over 4000.00 due to genetic mange--This woman new this dog was sick, so glad i got her and saved her from a life like the other dogs lived. Thorton makes me sick. PUNISH HER
  • by Jessica on Jun 7, 2009 at 10:12 PM
    Virginia, Thats ridiculous! what do you think they are doing with these puppies? Adopting them out. Who in their right mind could care for 300 dogs properly?!?! No one. Don't tell me you can cause you can't. So stop supporting these abusive puppy mills.
  • by jandell Location: 112 marlet dirve on Apr 3, 2009 at 09:08 AM
    hey my name is jandell hutchinson and i am 16teen. and i want to work with animals. all i want to know is this place taking in any volunteers at this place is at so i can help them get animals off the street and save animal who are very sick so if u are looking for any help u got my vote.and witn i just love your news channle i wake up every day elary just to catch your news so very one on the mews cast i love you all have a bless day .
  • by fran anderson Location: maryland on Mar 8, 2009 at 07:28 AM
    "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated".-Ghandi.....Puppy mills no way to treat our friends ,the Dog.
  • by Janet Location: Denver, NC on Feb 16, 2009 at 11:57 AM
    I would like to adopt a small breed puppy/dog. Where and when can I go to adopt one of these rescues. Do they have any pictures that can be viewed. I would give one of these little ones a great inside home. We would go shopping on a regular basis at pet smart. Please contact me and let me know. Thank you
  • by Anonymous Location: NC on Feb 16, 2009 at 07:30 AM
    As a hobby breeder who has done quite a bit of rescue (including dog auctions and puppy mills) I have no doubt this "so called kennel" needed to be shut down. I've seen dogs in these conditions and just because they were fed and watered does not mean they were healthy or treated humanely. The North Carolina laws only call for food, water and shelter, and they are a little sketchy on the water part. However, I will not support a breeder bill as every one I have seen limits my ability to raise my own litters in my home with my family... this is what ensures that my puppies are happy and healthy and I will not give that up. I have read a lot of breeder bills and every one has wanted the puppies reared in an environment away from the house and in kennels, how is this different than the commercial breeders that we abhore? I have never raised a puppy like this and have no intentions of starting. I will oppose a breeder bill that removes my rights to rear my litters as I see fit.
  • by Jennifer Location: Raleigh on Feb 15, 2009 at 06:49 AM
    This bill just barely touches the tip of the iceberg...but it is a start to raise awareness and begin dialogue on the horrors of puppy mills in NC. Please e-mail Senator Don Davis with your support at Don.Davis@ncleg.net
  • by Brittany on Feb 14, 2009 at 04:32 PM
    My puppy came from here and was VERY sick when we got him.. Mites in his ears, ear infections, and he STILL has digestive problems from being so sick as a puppy (with some kind of infection we arn't sure exactly what)..My friend's mom actually got my puppy and knew something was up when she wasnt allowed to see my puppies parents.. my puppy is now a year and a couple of months and is doing better other than the fact he has to stricly eat ONLY Iams puppy chow or chicken and rice. Id like for anyone to tell me these dogs were mistreated because you are seriously wrong. My dog STUNK horribly when he was picked up and was way underweight b/c he was sick he was only 4 pounds at the time when he was suppose to be 7 and miniature dauchounds are little..he weighs 12 pounds now...which he is still thin since his diet is strict. So if you dont know frist hand how these dogs were then you dont know the facts at all. It very sad =[ and id like to adopt one.
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