Wilson, N.C. — A Wilson couple was charged Thursday with animal cruelty after more than two dozen large-breed dogs were seized from a breeding operation, authorities said.
The raid at a property on Evansdale Road is the second time this month that law enforcement officers and animal welfare advocates have seized dogs and puppies from a breeding operation in eastern North Carolina.
Wilson County deputies removed 28 Great Danes, Mastiffs and Dobermans from outdoor kennels behind a mobile home, with the assistance of the Humane Society of the U.S., the SPCA of Wake County and the Great Dane Rescue Alliance.
"What led to this was just years of complaints from consumers who were getting sick puppies," said Kim Alboum, state director of the Humane Society.
Alboum said state law doesn’t require inspections of breeding operations, and complaints weren’t enough for authorities to step in until animal cruelty could be demonstrated.
"What we saw in this particular facility were a lot of dogs with old and new wounds," she said. "We saw a lot of infection – staph, mange – but many of the dogs were just so, they just seemed broken."
Breeders Cyndi and Joe Williams were each charged with one count of animal cruelty, and authorities said more charges are possible. Their court date was set for Oct. 8.
Local rescue groups have taken in many of the breeding dogs the breeders have gotten rid of over the years, Alboum said.
"(One) dog's mother was surrendered four weeks ago, and she was in absolutely horrendous condition," she said. "When she was surrendered, (her puppy) was only 10 days old."
Veterinarians checked the dogs before 16 of the animals were sent to the SPCA of Wake County and the other 12 to the Great Dane Rescue Alliance for further care and housing.
Because the dogs were seized, their future could be tied up in court. None of the dogs will be put up for adoption until the legal issues are resolved, officials said.