public service announcement: puppy mill rescue

You know about me and dogs if you spend any time reading this weblog at all.

Here’s something you probably haven’t heard, as it happened way up here in the northern most Pacific Northwest. Skagit County sheriffs raided a puppy mill yesterday and found 400 animals, mostly small breeds, in deplorable conditions. Confined to cages filled with feces, starved, matted, sick, with infections and diseases. They found seven dogs that had died as much as three months ago in a cage. They took only 200 of them away.

More details (if you can bear it) from an article in The Bellingham Herald (below). The rescue is being coordinated by SPOT of Skagit County. They need help, as you can imagine. If you can spare a couple bucks or supplies, please get in touch with them. The telephone number provided has a mailbox that is full, so email is the better way. Their website, with a link to email:  SPOT (Saving Pets One at a Time)

Also, here’s a link to an article with video and images.

More than 200 dogs seized from Skagit Co. puppy mill

Biggest dog seizure in Skagit history; animals not up for adoption yet


Authorities seized more than 200 dogs in two separate incidents in Skagit County Wednesday, and the owners of both kennels could face animal cruelty charges, authorities said.

More than 150 dogs, filthy and crowded into small spaces, were seized from a Little Mountain area home outside Mount Vernon after the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office linked the homeowner to a ring of Snohomish County puppy mills.

Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Will Reichardt said it was the biggest dog seizure in Skagit County’s history. He estimated that another 200 dogs were left behind because they appeared healthier, cleaner and better cared for. Logistics played a role in deciding how many animals to take, he said.

Most of the dogs taken from the home of Marjorie and Richard Sundberg are being kept temporarily at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.

The mostly small “designer dogs” were found covered in feces and urine and packed into small wire crates, said Teresa Letellier, a volunteer with the Burlington-based organization Saving Pets One at a Time or S.P.O.T. Many of the dogs imprisoned themselves into still smaller spaces yet, she said, crouching into bins in their crates because the rest of the space was so piled with feces.

Seven dogs — puppies and adults — were also found dead inside of a bin, Reichardt said. They likely died about three weeks ago, he said, but cause of death has not been determined.

At least four dogs were taken to area vet clinics, Letellier said. Three suffered from dehydration or lethargy and a fourth was found wearing a T-shirt, which when lifted revealed an infection and open sores, she said. Another dog and her litter were taken to the home of a S.P.O.T. volunteer, Letellier said.

In the other incident Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies seized about 40 miniature Australian Shepherds and Italian greyhounds and two ponies from a home near Big Lake, Reichardt said.

The Big Lake case was not connected to the larger seizure at the Sundberg home nor to a string of Snohomish County searches.

No charges had been filed in any of the Skagit or Snohomish County cases as of Wednesday night. But the Sundbergs and the Big Lake kennel operator could face animal cruelty charges, a felony, Reichardt said.

The Sundberg kennel has long been known to Skagit County officials because it has been operating for years without the necessary permits and has infuriated some neighbors. A county animal control officer had previously visited the breeding operation without requiring any dogs to be taken away.

However, past counts put the number of dogs closer to 150 to 200, far short of the roughly 400 dogs and puppies found Wednesday at the Sundbergs’ operation.

Reichardt said some of the dogs may have recently been brought to the Sundberg kennel from a home in Snohomish County, which was one of three homes searched recently by authorities there.

The three homes appear to belong to two of the Sundbergs’ daughters, according to Vicki Lubrin, licensing and animal control services manager for Snohomish County. Lubrin said a tip led the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to a home owned by one daughter near the town of Gold Bar on Friday.

There, they seized 155 dogs, four cats and three parrots, Lubrin said. Many of the animals were sick, and 87 of the dogs were crammed into an attic, she said.

Deputies found evidence at that house that led them to two other locations, Lubrin said. One was a home owned by another Sundberg daughter where there were 44 dogs, Lubrin said, but all appeared in adequate condition and were left in her care.

The third home, which belonged to the same daughter who owned the Gold Bar-area property, had no dogs on site, Lubrin said, but there were signs that animals had been there.

Reichardt said witnesses saw dogs moved from that home in the middle of the night, and evidence found there suggested they were taken to Marjorie Sundberg’s home.

Reichardt, sheriff’s deputies, S.P.O.T. volunteers and animal control officers from neighboring jurisdictions were greeted with the smell of urine and feces when the arrived at the Sundberg kennel Tuesday.

Inside two buildings, as well as the Sundberg residence and an outbuilding, they found hundreds of dogs — some without food, water or heat — locked into crates encrusted with excrement.

“The urine smell was so strong it hurt your nose,” Patrol Deputy Rhonda Lasley said as she nestled a weeks-old Chihuahua inside her coat at the fairgrounds.

She called the tiny sleeping dog “Justice.”

For now, none of the dogs are up for adoption and still legally belong to the Sundbergs, Reichardt said. But S.P.O.T. is looking for experienced volunteers and foster homes to care for the dogs temporarily.

Letellier said donations of food, supplies, money and grooming help are also needed for the Sundbergs’ dogs and those seized from the Big Lake home. Call 360-336-5388 and leave a message with your name and contact information if you can help.

13 Replies to “public service announcement: puppy mill rescue”

  1. There aren’t strong enuff words..what gets me as that the offending/offensive parties involved will probably get off with slap on the wrist or at worst a fine. Should lock that whole family up in there own kennels.

  2. A situation of puppy mills was recently reported here – investigators posed as potential buyers to uncover what was going on. I don’t have a dog, despite much begging from the resident children, and it’s mainly because I know I won’t have the time to care for it the way it deserves. Hard to make the head rule the heart in these things. So hard to imagine what makes the maltreatment of animals okay to some humans. Well, not so hard to imagine, disgusting to imagine.

  3. I don’t want to take away from the horrible act, and I do feel really bad for the dogs, but I just gotta say, couldn’t this writter have said “urine” and “feces” a little less. I know it must’ve been awful, but man, he really got the point across that these poor animals were stuck in there own excrements.

  4. I think maybe that many people who buy puppies go to the local pet store, pick a cute one out, and take it home, not having any idea of what they’ve bought. Thus puppy mills have an outlet.

    We decided, after losing 2 goldens to cancer, no more goldens. Maybe there was a genetic predisposition. So, we eliminated a number of breeds, then found several websites advertising what we wanted and one within 40 miles. We made 4 visits to the breeder, looking at all the dogs there and the conditions they were being bred and raised under. Finally the day came, and we’d narrowed it down to 2. Of course, the one who climbed into my lap and gave me kisses was THE ONE.

    But how many people go to such lengths to decide on the breeder, the breed, the one? We paid big bucks for what we wanted. In that price were all the baby shots and a chip if he ever gets lost. Of course in that price were the parents, the land, the building, the dog runs, the piped music, the heated baby room, the industrial washing machine and dryer, etc. I just don’t think many people go to these extreme lengths to make sure everything is just right or to pay for those rightnesses. Or even know to go to those lengths.

    And he’s asleep beside me, my perfect dog, give or take a few bite marks on the furniture.

  5. I have six dogs in the house right now — five are ours (2 Boston Terriers, 1 black Pug, 1 Lab/Pit mix, 1 Boston/Pug mix), and one is my daughter’s dog (Chihuahua mix) who I’ve been keeping until she and her husband finally settle down in one place. It’s a noisy, smelly house but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We lost one of dogs (another Boston) to cancer on December 6 — it was sudden and totally unexpected and we are still grieving. Still, my heart is big and I found a face on Petfinder I could not refuse (the Boston/Pug mix). One of my older dogs (a Boston)was a breeder in a puppy mill. She was rescued, then I got her. She was two years old then, had some mental issues and was totally deaf. Today, she is 10, happy and is my shadow. All of our dogs are rescues, save one. Indiscriminate dog breeding is one of my soapbox issues.

  6. This is a soapbox issue for me too. Every one of my three dogs and eight cats are rescues. After working in a rescue group I cannot and do not want to less than my share for the animals. And yep, they are expensive and sometimes loud and smelly. But they are living, feeling, amazing creatures. Even more, they are family and deserve the best we can offer. I wish everyone understood how important it is to get terrific animal companions from shelters, and to spay/neuter. You know, not all puppy mill dogs are sold to pet stores either. Many go to “research” (i.e., torture) labs. The puppy mill owners *should* be locked in their own filthy kennels. Off soapbox for now…

  7. It occurs to me that my last 4 pets were “rescues”..A boxer I’d found on the highway, miles from anywhere. A cat “Kitty”, she had thumbs! I “rescued” from a second story balcony one particularly cold winter night. A rotti some boza had dumped in a dumpster and a calico that was homeless and half wild that I took in after it’s owner died. I’m either a soft touch or a cheap bastard hehe.

  8. I find it hilarious how people condemn with out knowing the FACTS.

    The large seizure is warranted. Dogs should never be kept in that condition.

    The small seizure of the Mini Aussies is a JOKE. I know this person. She is my Mentor. I breed Mini Aussies too.

    She is an amazing person. He dogs are groomed well, feed expensive food. She shows her dogs. She doesn’t breed for profit. Out of 5 buyers only one will be allowed a pup from her.It has to be the right dog for the right home.

    She rescues.
    She boards dogs.
    She teaches grooming.

    Most of her dogs are Champions.

    The reason her dogs were taken ????

    Because the dogs she has in her house are crated.
    Can you believe that ?

    They got the warrant on the basis that crating a dog is inhumane.

    EVERY single dog trainer out there recommends crate training !!!

    This is insane and we are all pooling for her legal fees and when she gets her dogs back, she is suing their butts of.

    As a sidebar, the dumb Humane Society workers that “took” her dogs broke the leg of one.

    How humane is that ?????

    1. Hello,

      Regarding the comment about the aussie’s from Big Lake. From a reputable breeder. This is the first I’ve heard of this… why is that. They are talking on Craigs List about the puppy mills and I’ve been looking for additional information. As I have aussie’s. If she is as you say, please, get that info out there, contact some of the newspapers and TV channels.


  9. Hi, I was wondering if anyone knew what I would need to do , or who I would need to contact to adopt one of the australian shepherds that were taken from the Big Lake breeders.

    Thank You!!

  10. UPDATE: 28 of the 40 Miniature Australian Shepherds that were seized in the smaller raid have been returned to the Owner. The Courts ruled the warrant invalid based on stale dated information.

    To date no charges have been laid on the remaining 12 dogs.

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