Animal shelters from around Georgia were called in to help authorities rescue 700 dogs from a home in Valdosta.
News outlets report the shelters say the dogs were kept in small cages, and many of the animals rescued on Saturday had never been walked or held before. One shelter, Release Atlanta, calls it "an extreme hoarding puppy mill case."
A transport coordinator with the Humane Society in Valdosta, Tim Hill, says the dogs did appear to have been fed and watered. He says the owner had asked for help from the state Department of Agriculture.
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Reason Craig Gray, 58, of Nashville, was facing charges of animal cruelty and obstruction, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement late Thursday.
Gray ran a licensed pet-breeding business known as Georgia Puppies. It sold miniature breeds including teacup Yorkies and toy poodles for up to $600 per dog.
Releash Atlanta, an organization caring for eight of the rescued animals, said they "flinch at the feeling of grass under their feet" and were used to sleeping standing up.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the Atlanta Humane Society said the animals "have been living in crates their whole lives — one tiny crate stacked on top of another. They’re matted, covered in feces and have never been held or walked."
The Humane Society previously named Gray on its "Horrible Hundred 2018" list of “problem puppy mills and puppy sellers in the United States.”
The Georgia Department of Agriculture inspected his facility last week. Gray initially voluntarily surrendered 630 of the dogs, but police say he admitted to subsequently bringing puppies back onto the property. An additional 85 dogs were rescued Thursday after a search warrant was obtained.
The shelters say the dogs will be up for adoption once rehabilitated.