The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Animals rescued from alleged “puppy mill” remain at shelters in three states

The 131 dogs rescued were sent to half a dozen rescues in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Sara Stumpff
Puppy mill rescue dog gets pets by Devon, who works at the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center in Iowa City on September 15, 2023. (Sara Stumpff/Daily Iowan)

After 131 dogs were rescued from a Johnson County dog breeder in August because of extremely poor living conditions, the animals were sent to shelters and rescue centers in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 

The neglect is still under investigation by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. After their rescue from a commercial breeder located at 3027 500 St. in Riverside, Iowa, the dogs were carefully spayed and neutered by a local veterinarian.

RELATED: IC animal shelter treating half of 131 dogs surrendered to police in investigation

Following the dogs’ release into the Iowa City shelters, the Bissell Pet Foundation — a private foundation that supports animal welfare organizations located in Grand Rapids, Michigan — reached out to the center through the Animal Rescue League of Iowa in Des Moines. 

Chris Whitmore, the director of the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, said the foundation offered to help place 90 of the dogs, which were then sent to Traverse City, Michigan, and other shelters in Eastern Iowa. Of the 40 or so dogs that were left, 20 of them went to Dane County, Wisconsin. 

The rest remained in Iowa City and were sent to local rescues including Fluffy Butts, Last Hope, Paws and More, and others, Whitmore said.

The dogs were also spayed and neutered by a veterinarian out of Safe Haven, an animal shelter located in Amana, Iowa. 

“Safe Haven has been a godsend. We couldn’t thank them enough. They were truly lifesavers,” Whitmore said.

Barbara Roland, a retired veterinarian, volunteered to help treat 13 of the injured dogs. During the week of Sept. 11, two to four dogs were brought in each day and treated. Once they arrived, physicals were conducted, and startling discoveries were made.

“Many of the dogs came in with ear infections — they had lacerations and bite wounds on their limbs and bodies,” Roland said. “It was terrible.” 

In the early stages of spaying and neutering, many of the puppies had contracted parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that affects dogs. Some of the younger dogs died.

“We are finding a lot of other chronic issues that people who adopt are going to have to deal with such as bad elbows, bad hips, genetic problems that were not initially noticed,” Whitmore said.

Of the 20 dogs that remain at Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, the center has received numerous inquiries for adoption. Four of them have already been adopted out, Whitmore said.

“As soon as the rest get spayed and neutered, they will be getting adopted as well,” Whitmore said. “They are being adopted so quickly and even some of our long-term residents are getting adopted due to the news and how many dogs we have.” 

Last Hope Animal Rescue received several dogs with immediate medical needs. The rescue is a primarily foster-based organization located in Cedar Rapids.

The very first dog taken by the rescue came in with a large open sore across the outer and inner part of its limb, Development Director of Last Hope Amanda Rushton said. 

The dog was immediately sent to an emergency veterinarian that night.

Many of the Bernese Mountain Dogs had severe open sores and lacerations on their faces, Last Hope Founder Sonia Brandley said. 

This was a result of what is known as “fly strike,” when open sores and lacerations are a direct result of flies eating away at the fur, Brandley said.

Rushton said commercial breeders are required to have a veterinarian regularly overseeing operations. However, that clearly was not the case for these animals, Rushton said. 

Currently, the dogs placed in the care of Last Hope have all been placed in foster homes, and the rescue encouraging people to adopt new and long-term dogs alike.

“There are plenty of really great animals,” Brandley said. “Being open to looking at some of the dogs that are already here as well as the newer dogs will mean a lot.”

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About the Contributors
Shreya Reddy
Shreya Reddy, News Reporter
Shreya Reddy is a freshman at the University of Iowa. Coming from a small town in Kansas, Shreya is double majoring in English and Political Science on the Pre-Law track. Before coming to the Daily Iowan, she has written for her neighborhood magazine and her schools literary magazine as well as writing an investigative journalism piece.
Sara Stumpff
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.