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Marsha Chaney walked through a feces and flea covered building rescuing, one-by-one, dogs living in deplorable conditions as part of an alleged puppy mill in Corinth.
In all, 11 dogs, nearly all Pomeranians, were taken from the building, which featured a tattered ceiling, dusty and dirty cages, turned off fans, an occasional mouse and plies of feces.
“The dogs have no water in there,” Chaney, the Grant County Animal Shelter director, said, taking a second to catch her breath before heading back inside. “There’s no telling how hot it is in the building.
And, the feces is just mounded.”
“A lot of them are hairless,” she said. “They’re covered in fleas and matted together where they could have maggots underneath. Some of them couldn’t walk. I can tell you, from my experience, most of them we carried out were females and they have very enlarged breasts. I am very sure that (the owner) uses them to have babies and sells the babies. They’re puppy mill dogs. They behave like puppy mill dogs.”
The white block building, with closed windows, no lights and no comfort from the heat, sits next to a trailer on Dixie Highway in Corinth about a half mile past Bruce’s Grocery.
“There just isn’t any words to describe it,” Chaney said. “It’s horrible in there. The ammonia just about knocks you out. The heat. There’s feces everywhere. Urine. It’s just horrific.”
Outside the building, more metal cages and dog carriers are strewn throughout the unkept property. A pile of gasoline cans sit just feet from the door of the building while a sea of bleach and liquid laundry detergent bottles lay near the trailer next to the building.
Some of the dogs are in cages. Others are roaming throughout the building, hiding behind boards and cages because of their lack of social interaction.
“Puppy mill dogs are not real social,” Chaney said. “They’re made to breed. They’re not used to human touch. It’s been difficult to catch them.”
Inside the trailer next to the building, another dog would sporadically stick its head out an opened window, letting out a bark or two before retreating inside.
Chaney first got a hunch that she could be dealing with a case of animal cruelty in early July when a Pomeranian was brought to the shelter. The dog was so infested with parasites that it could barely move.
It had suffered severe, permanent health problems from the lack of care. Through anonymous tips, Chaney received information that the dog came from a residence on Dixie Highway in Corinth.
While at the residence, Chaney could smell an overpowering odor of dog feces coming from the nearby block building. She could also hear the barks of numerous small, adult dogs and puppies inside.
“I came out here numerous times and had (Sheriff) Chuck (Dills) come with me, but (the owner) would never answer the door,” Chaney said. “He left a door hanger and (the owner) came to the shelter the very next day. (The owner) came and bought nine tags for dogs. The majority of them were Pomeranians. So, I knew I was on to something.”
Chaney said she learned that the owner also had residences in Covington. Chaney called flea markets to see if she could locate where the owner could possibly be selling the dogs, but she had no luck.
“I asked (the owner) when she came in for the tags if she would let me in to see the dogs because there had been some complaints,” Chaney said. “She gave me every excuse under the sun.”
Having trouble sleeping at night with the thought of the endangered dogs, Chaney went to County Attorney Joe Taylor on Aug. 26 pleading with him to file for a search warrant of the property.
The warrant was granted Aug. 27 and Chaney and another animal shelter worker were joined by Dills and Deputy Mike Webster at the residence. The owner was not home as the group worked to remove the animals.
The Corinth Fire Department assisted by providing lighting.
“They have fleas and everything else,” Dills said of the dogs.. “One of them looked like its ear had ear mites.”
They will be taken to the Grant County Animal Shelter, then they will be seen by a veterinarian.
There is a possibility not all of the dogs will make it, said Chaney, adding some could also be pregnant.
“A couple of them are pretty bad,” she said. “We don’t want to make a judgement call until they see a veterinarian.”
After seeing a vet, the dogs will then stay at the shelter until any potential court proceedings.
Dills said animal cruelty charges are pending as the sheriff’s office continues to investigate and attempts to locate the owner of the residence.
“This is animal cruelty at its best,” Chaney said.