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Donations pour in to support puppy mill animals

Delta Animal Shelter Manager Susan Gartland holds “Annika” and three of her puppies Tuesday. These dogs — and 130 others — were rescued from a nearby puppy mill Tuesday and are currently being cared for at the shelter. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Jordan Beck)

ESCANABA — Volunteers at the Delta Animal Shelter were hard at work caring for 134 dogs rescued from a nearby puppy mill Tuesday. The mill, located in Maple Ridge Township, was busted by police on Monday.

“All the dogs are safe at the shelter and being processed and medically cared for,” Shelter Manager Susan Gartland said.

Initially, troopers from the Michigan State Police Gladstone post had been sent to check on a horse in an area roadway. During their investigation, police discovered a puppy mill at a Maple Ridge Township residence.

Sixty-five adult dogs — almost all female — and 69 puppies were taken from the puppy mill by police. Many of the dogs were pregnant or had recently had a litter of puppies. Most dogs found at the puppy mill, such as Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, German Shepherds and Australian Shepherds, were from larger breeds; some smaller dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers and teddy bear dogs were taken, as well.

MSP said that on Tuesday, troopers returned to the residence and seized 11 miniature horses and seven horses. Several of the miniature horses were pregnant.

All horses were transported to a local boarding facility and were to be evaluated by a veterinarian.

The Gladstone post was assisted by the Delta County Sheriff’s Office and the Delta Animal Shelter.

“We assisted in the removal of the (134) dogs from the premises,” Gartland said.

Gartland described living conditions at the puppy mill — particularly for adult dogs — as “deplorable.”

“There was very little if any food; most cages had no water; shelter was sketchy,” she said.

Many dogs also had open fly strike wounds and severely matted coats covered in feces and urine. Right now, the shelter’s primary goal is to give these dogs the medical care they need. As part of this, they are being vaccinated, dewormed and treated for fleas. They will also be spayed and neutered before they leave the shelter.

According to Gartland, the dogs are not yet ready to go to new homes.

“No dogs are available for adoption at this time, as this is an active police case,” she said.

The shelter expects to release a request for people to foster, socialize and otherwise help the dogs near the end of the week. Donations are currently being sought to help cover their medical expenses.

The Gladstone post’s investigation of the puppy mill is continuing, and possible criminal charges against its owner will be sought with the Delta County Prosecutor’s Office.

“If anybody suspects they have adopted from this person or know anything … alert us or the Michigan State Police,” Gartland said.

People who suspect they have found signs of a puppy mill should report their findings to law enforcement, as well.

Gartland said local residents have already stepped up to support the shelter in response to this case.

“I’m so humbled that the community cares so much and is donating so these dogs never have to live like this again,” she said.

Due to this influx of support, the shelter has been unable to keep up with messages. People in the area who are trying to get in touch with the shelter are asked to be patient at this time. Messages will be returned as soon as possible.

Gartland hoped the discovery of the puppy mill will serve as a reminder for people looking to buy dogs to only buy from reputable breeders.

“If you can’t see Mom and Dad and walk the property, that is a red flag,” she said.

She was also glad to help these dogs live better lives.

“As overwhelming as this is … I am so happy this got shut down,” Gartland said.

For more information, find “Delta Animal Shelter” on Facebook.

To donate, visit the shelter’s Facebook page where pictures of recently groomed rescue dogs can be viewed.

According to one report, in excess of $50,000 had been donated through online fundraising.

Jordan Beck can be reached at jbeck@dailypress.net. Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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