Puppy mill at its finest...
About a year or two ago, a friend of mine that lives four hours from me asked me if I could check into a "kennel" for her in Chickamauga, Georgia. I immediately went to the website that has red flags of "puppy mill" all over it: multiple breeds for sale, almost all are CKC (Continental Kennel Club) registered, vague information, normally high-dollar dogs for LOW prices, etc.
I spoke briefly with the owners, and I headed up there. Before I even got out of my car, I could hear hundreds of dogs barking and crying.
When I got out of my car (a good 50 yards from the kennels), the stench of urine and feces was overpowering. A young woman came out from a shed in the front of the kennels, asked if she could help me, and went and got the older male owner of the kennels.
He took me back to look at some dogs - Cavalier King Charles Spaniels - that my friend wanted me to look for. Frankly, I just went back to look at them to get an overall feeling of the place.
There were concrete runs with 5-6 dogs in them (runs were approximately 10 feet long by 2 feet wide). They were running in their own feces and urine, their hair was matted, tear stains matted near their eyes, and they were barking madly. We continued past several ROWS of these runs and into the first of two chicken houses converted into more kennels (I think there were 4 rows of kennels across and a dozen deep - approximately 48 pens in each chicken house). In these pens were terrified dogs that were barking aggressively or would throw themselves to the back of their pens when someone approached. The male owner yelled at them to "shut up" as we walked all the way to the back.
When we got to a run with the Spaniels in it, I was saddened. They ran up to the gate, but when we approached and when the owner opened the latch, they stumbled over each other trying to get away: tails tucked and to the back of their cages. He would grab one by the scruff, and the dog would have its tail tucked, completely stiff when picked up.
One dog had an old eye injury causing the eye to be "blued, " another dog had a skin irritation in which the skin on its back had bumps, sores, and had lost fur, and the other one was a fear biter. It would sniff my hand (through the cage), then snap and try to bite at me. I was more mad than anything else.
I asked about one of the Spaniels (who was lethargic and had a skin irritation), and the owner said he would "cut me a deal" at $300 for the puppy (these dogs sell for $1, 500 pet quality). Because I knew I could get it into a Vet, I took the dog and made note of everything.
He told me to "wait a minute while he got its shot records." We walked back past the runs of dogs, the stench overwhelming, and went to the little shed where the young woman had originally walked out of when I arrived. I was shocked at what I found: rabbit-sized chicken wire cages with adult dogs in them - "breeding pens" is what the young woman said. They were crammed with Yorkshire Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, and Chihuahuas. The shed was poorly lit and was an "impromptu" workshop for giving injections and deworming. The dog's "health records" came in the form on a tiny notebook sheet (the ones that are about 2" wide and 4" long) torn out with some dates and stickers scribbled down for vaccinations. Who knows if the dog ACTUALLY got them?
I left there and immediately placed a call into the Georgia Department of Agriculture Animal Protection Division. That wasn't good enough as they are still in operation today.
If you ever wanted to see what a "puppy mill" is, go to Chickamauga Kennels.