Roughly 100 dogs were seized from a home in Montura today where agencies believe a suspected puppy mill had been operating.
In a joint operation between the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, Clewiston Animal Control and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), about 100 dogs and puppies were taken from a home on Avenida del Club and two people believed to be in connection to the alleged puppy mill were arrested.
Beatriz Perez, 46, and Alexei Fernandez, 47, were arrested on cruelty related charges by Hendry County sheriff’s deputies after a six-month-long investigation culminated this morning.
Tim Rickey, vice president of field investigation for ASPCA, said authorities were notified of the alleged puppy mill by concerned citizens.
“Florida is one of the few states that does not require a license to breed animals,” said Rickey. “But we expect people to provide a basic level of care.”
The dogs were reportedly being kept in substandard conditions in kennels in the backyard. Many of the dogs apparently did not have access to clean water or food and some were suffering from medical conditions, including skin and eye diseases and severe dental issues.
The dogs were allegedly being sold to pet stores in the Miami-Dade area. Some of the breeds of dogs seized included shih tzus, Siberian huskies, bull dogs, chihuahuas and poodles.
Pregnant mothers and puppies as young as two weeks old were seized and given immediate care by ASPCA veterinarians on scene. They are being transported to a temporary shelter until the courts decide their custody status.
The ASPCA said puppy mills are a widespread issue throughout Florida and the United States and many people are unaware that most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. The ASPCA has a national “No Pet Store Puppies” campaign that seeks to raise awareness about the connection between puppy mills and pet stores to end the demand for puppy mill dogs.
For more information, visit www.nopetstorepuppies.com.