McDONALD, Tenn. - Small-breed dogs seized last month from a McDonald puppy mill are now finding homes locally and abroad.
"We have received a lot of public interest in these dogs even before we had them in our care," said Tricia Sebes, animal care coordinator for McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga. "The day the story broke people were calling us asking if we had taken any of the dogs."
McKamey recently received 15 dogs from the Humane Society of the United States, which took possession of just over 100 of 247 animals that were discovered in overcrowded and filthy cages while Bradley County sheriff deputies were responding to a "verbal domestic" situation on June 11.
Four of the dogs received by McKamey have been adopted and the remaining 11 are available for adoption, Sebes said.
During the two-week period following the discovery of the puppy mill, the Humane Society set up a temporary shelter in Charleston, Tenn., where the recovered animals were assessed and treated.
The Humane Society distributed the animals to McKamey and five other "outstanding Emergency Placement Partners" across the country, said Kaitlin Sanderson, a representative for the Humane Society, in an email.
Sanderson expressed gratitude toward the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Bradley County, a private organization that provides animal sheltering services for the county, and local law enforcement for their response to the situation.
Prior to the Humane Society operation, over 140 of the dogs were taken by a small number of local rescue and adoption groups, including A Paw and a Prayer, Trooper's Treasures and Pet Placement Center.
Although those groups were responding to a crisis and meant well, they took animals from the site of a criminal investigation said Leighann Lassiter, Tennessee state director for the Humane Society, in an address to the Bradley County Commission. SPCA received three of the rescued animals from A Paw and a Prayer in early July, shelter director Bobbi Anderson said.
Hundreds of pounds of food and $6,000 were donated to SPCA in response to the crisis, said SPCA's former media director Beth Foster in a WRCB-TV news report on June 13.
Information regarding the current total of donations received by SPCA was not made available.
"I have no control in the day-to-day operations or decision making of the SPCA," said Betti Gravelle, president of the organization.
Anderson referred financial queries to SPCA treasurer Jack Burke for accuracy.
Burke did not respond to attempts to reach him by phone or email.
A Bradley County Sheriff's Office investigation has resulted in one charge of animal cruelty filed against puppy mill owner Rebecca Vanmeter, 56, on June 13.
The investigation is ongoing, said Bob Gault, spokesmen for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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