Pinal County Animal Care and Control officers stopped a possible puppy mill operation being run in the Apache Junction area.
Officers responded to the residence following a report from case worker with Child Protective Services who said they witnessed an animal skull in the front of the residence. The report also indicated a strong urine smell emanating from the area. The caseworker reported seeing 25-36 dogs on the premises, along with kennels filled with feces. There was no water or food for the animals.
Arriving on-scene, officers found the residence exactly as the case worker described. Upon further inspection, officers found the kennels with six or more dogs housed in them. The animals had contaminated water to drink, but no food to eat.
"These animals were being kept in horrible conditions," said Animal Care and Control Director Kaye Dickson. "The kennels had nothing covering them such as a tarp or any other material. We decided to seek a search warrant due to the conditions we found outside the residence."
The officers were able to execute the search warrant on Wednesday, Dec. 14. Investigating officers found several record books detailing sales, vaccinations and other documentation pertaining to animals previously on premises. Records for the animals currently being housed by the owner were not up-to-date. The majority of the animals seized were Chihuahuas and Pomeranians.
Inside the residence, officers found some of the animals being kept in small kennels stacked on top of each other. Many of them were caked with feces and had urine-soaked towels inside. The smaller kennels lacked any signs of water for the animals.
After a discussion with the owner, Animal Care and Control officers seized all of the animals on the premises, including 13 dogs that were being boarded at the location. Animal Control officers located the boarding clients and safely returned the animals to their owners.
The vet serving Pinal County Animal Care and Control found that four of the caged animals were pregnant. One other dog recently gave birth to puppies.
"The resident had, at one time, obtained a kennel permit. The permit lapsed earlier in the year," Dickson said. "The permit allowed them to have up to 20 animals on the premises. The owner clearly was not in compliance with the permit and was not providing humane care and proper treatment for the animals, including basic food and water. Some of the statements the pet's owner made to our officers lead us to believe that some these dogs were being used in a puppy mill breeding operation."
The case remains under investigation and review for potential charges, therefore the name and address cannot be released at this time. The animals seized from the home are currently being cared for at Pinal County's Animal Care and Control shelter. The animals will be held as evidence and not available for public adoption unless the owner surrenders the animals or until the case is finalized.