ALLEGAN, Mich. (WZZM) -- Allegan County deputies and animal control officers have seized more than 350 small dogsand other animalsfrom a Cheshire Township breeder.
More than 350 Shih Tzu and Pomeranian-mix dogs were taken from a Cheshire Township breeder. Investigators believe the breeder's intentions were good, but the number of dogs grew so large she could no longer care for them.
Animal control officers and deputies found most of the dogs covered in feces and fleas.
"Just atrocious," says volunteer George Clawson. "Just how bad it is for the dogs...how horrible it is for the dogs."
"It's heartbreaking to see what people can do," says volunteer Cathy Gren.
The shelter's veterinarians, vet technicians and volunteers are confronting a wide variety of ailments among the dogs.
"Eye conditions, ear problems...a lot of them I looked at had abcessing or missing teeth," says technician Becky McGehee.
"We are looking to find the sick ones and the ones that need immediate treatment and sort those out from the ones that are just plain covered in filth," says Dr. Jim Connell, a veterinarian.
While many of the dogs will require medical treatment, some are simply being cleaned and shaved to remove the waste and fleas.
Although the animals were suffering, they do not show symptoms of deliberate mistreatment.
"I wouldn't say abused...not abused," says McGehee. "They were all of good weight. Only a few that were thin. Theywere all fed. Just basic needs weren't being taken care of."
"That would be howI would classify it," says Lt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department. "They are breeders. They are animal lovers. They are someone who is in the business of taking care of animals and just got out of control."
The shelter workers and volunteers from local animal rescue groups are using mostly donated supplies. They say nearly all of the dogs will be nursed back to health and offered for adoption.
"They are in tough condition, but these guys want to learn and want to love and they want to be house pets," says animal shelter administrator Julie Kowal.
Although the animals were seized, the dogs' owner is not under arrest. The county prosecutor will review the sheriff's deputies' report and decide if the owner will face any charges, which could range from a misdemeanor to a felony.
The shelter is also seeking contributions of canned dog food, blankets, bleach and money to help its staff care for the animals.