Raleigh, N.C. — At least three dozen people lined up in front of the SPCA of Wake County on Monday to adopt some of the 39 dogs seized from a Brunswick County puppy mill earlier this month.
Brunswick County deputies and animal rights advocates rescued 163 dogs, 26 birds and one cat in an Aug. 3 raid of a breeding operation at a Leland mobile home.
Many of the dogs were matted, caked in filth, covered in fleas and in need of veterinary care, and some had broken jaws from severe tooth decay. The double-wide trailer where they were housed in cages had no electricity, authorities said.
At least one puppy died after the rescue, but the rest of the dogs were sent to animal shelters as far away as Greensboro and Charlotte, officials said.
"It was horrific. The smell of the ammonia, the bugs, the roaches, it was horrible, horrible conditions, so we were very blessed to get these guys out," said Darci VanderSlik, community outreach coordinator for the SPCA of Wake County.
The dogs cared for by the SPCA have received veterinary care and undergone extensive grooming, officials said. Most of them will be put into foster homes for socialization before being put up for adoption.
"There has been a great demand in the community and a great response for adoption of these guys. We want to get them into their new homes as soon as possible," VanderSlik said.
The SPCA said last week it didn't expect a problem finding loving homes for the dogs. Those interested can check the organization's website or Facebook page for more information.
"I'd take all of them home if I had a lot of money," said Dottie Thorne, a potential adopter.
Andrew and Amelia Millis, of Wilmington, were charged with animal neglect and animal cruelty and were held in the Brunswick County jail under $1.5 million bonds.
Two North Carolina lawmakers have said they plan to introduce legislation next year to better regulate dog-breeding operations.
"The most frustrating part of it is that it's just going to be a matter of time before this happens again, before we get another call of another puppy mill bust. Legislation needs to be changed," VanderSlik said.