Clewiston Puppy Mill: Bad Breeders Busted, Over 100 Dogs Seized From Facility

In Florida, a Clewiston puppy mill was raided after police acted on complaints by local residents near a large-scale breeding operation. About 100 dogs were found living in squalid conditions on Avenue Del Club, Wink News reports.

Puppy mill owners Beatriz Perez, 46, and Alexei Fernandez, 47, were arrested and face charges of animal cruelty.

Hendry County Sheriff’s spokesperson, Susan Harrelle, says authorities have been conducting undercover work for quite some time on the Clewiston puppy mill case.

“We’ve worked with people who have come in and made some [undercover] buys, or been able to just offer up photos or information about what was going on,” Harrelle says.

Among the many breeds that were housed in the breeding facility were Siberian Huskies, Chihuahuas, and Poodles. The animals were discovered living in crowded enclosures. According to officials with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a lot of dogs lacked clean drinking water or food. The animals were afflicted with a variety of medical conditions that included skin, eye, and dental issues.

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said that there’s “no tolerance for animal cruelty in this county,” and hopes that this sends a message to others running unethical operations in similar situations. Authorities reveal the Clewiston puppy mill was selling dogs to pet stores around the Miami-Dade area. The dogs taken during the raid are being transported to a temporary shelter at an unknown location, where they’ll also receive medical care.

According to CBS Miami, Cherie Wachter of Broward Humane Society said that the mill owners were breeding, making puppies, then posted them for sale online or taken to pet stores “all over South Florida.”

Forty-five dogs were seized in the puppy mill raid after animal control officials had been watching a puppy mill in Clewiston for a few weeks. Authorities did a raid on Tuesday and took the dogs; they learned that the breeding facility had over 250 dogs inside.

Nearly 100 dogs seized at Clewiston puppy mill

— John Bolin (@Bolin555) November 16, 2015

News-Press reports that aside from not having adequate food and water, the dogs had little protection from the elements. The eye and skin diseases were a direct result of the low-quality care that the animals received at the hands of Perez and Fernandez.

Vice president of ASPCA Field Investigation and Response Tim Rickey released a statement that this is a widespread problem across not just Florida, but the nation.

“… Many people are unaware that most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and that buying pet store puppies indirectly supports these facilities,” Rickey said. “While the puppies are sold for profit, their parents are kept at these mills for years, subjected to incessant breeding and a very poor quality of life. Our goal is to remove these dogs from a life of neglect, help them become healthy and eventually find them safe and loving homes.”

Apparently, the animals are sitting in air-conditioned containers at their new shelter and are playing with toys. Veterinarians and caretakers say the dogs were in filthy conditions and in desperate need of baths. Volunteers say that overall, the dogs appear to be quite healthy.

The undisclosed shelter will maintain custody of the dogs until the court determines what’s next. The ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy department is providing legal assistance for the criminal case.

Additionally, Clewiston Animal Control, Texas, Humane Heroes from Leander, Texas, and the Humane Society of Broward County from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, are helping with the seizure and sheltering activities.

Wachter hopes that many of the dogs confiscated in the Clewiston puppy mill raid will be available for new homes as soon as this weekend.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]