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Rescuers seek homes for puppy mill pooches

/ Source: The Associated Press

The 371 miniature American Eskimos rescued from a puppy mill are responding well to the kindness of rescuers who are working to find them good homes.

Adoptions may start soon because the owner of the kennel has agreed to give the dogs up, said Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor.

“As you can see, these little babies need to have a home,” Taylor said Thursday as a fluffy white puppy, now named Snowball, nuzzled against his cheek. “Isn’t she just darling?”

Taylor led dozens of detectives and specially trained volunteers Wednesday to confiscate the dogs from Sun Valley Kennel in Kennewick, which Humane Society officials called one of the nation’s largest and worst puppy mills. It took more than 13 hours to move the animals to the Benton County Fairgrounds, where temporary kennels awaited them.

All of the dogs needed some medical care and some needed extensive treatment, Taylor said.

Had kennel owner Ella Stewart not agreed to give up the dogs, the sheriff’s office would have had to keep control of them until her court case was completed. She has pleaded innocent to one count of second-degree animal cruelty in Benton County District Court, but could face additional charges.

The Humane Society of the United States is working to get the dogs into shelters across the state and possibly Oregon and Idaho so they can be adopted. The dogs range in age from a few days old to their late teens. Two females are set to give birth.

The younger pups will need foster care until they’re old enough to be adopted, while others may need extensive medical attention. Rescuers said some dogs had matted coats, urine burns, dental issues as a result of poor diet, bite wounds and old scarring.

“The hope is to have the dogs moved out in a couple of days,” said Inga Gibson, state director with The Humane Society of the United States’ West Coast regional office.

Information on adopting the dogs can be found at The Humane Society’s Web site.