A minivan containing 62 dogs trapped in filthy conditions was discovered in an Ohio hotel parking lot after the vehicle broke down over the weekend.
The minivan, owned by Indiana dog breeder Jonas Fisher, was discovered in a parking lot of a hotel in Hebron by a hotel employee who called authorities after seeing the condition of the dogs.
Licking County Humane Society Executive Director Lori Carlson described the dogs as having been stacked "bottom to top" in the van with their coats covered with feces and urine, some of the animals being just a few weeks old, the Associated Press reported
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"By the time we got them into our care, it had almost been 24 hours that they had been in the van," Carlson told local NBC affiliate WCSH6.com
Among the breeds contained in the minivan were a mix of Poodles, Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Bichon Frisés, Shar Peis, Boxers, Boston terriers, Golden retrievers, German shepherds and several other popular breeds, USA Today reported.
In several of the cages, small dog breeds were forced to share the space with significantly larger breeds according to Carlson, who says she found one enclosure in which a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which generally weighs between six and eight pounds, was squeezed between a Rottweiler, a Labrador retriever and another large breed.
"I've been doing this for 15 years. Of everything I've done as a humane agent and in animal rescue, nothing has affected me like this," Licking County Humane Officer Paula Evans told USA Today. "These animals don't deserve it."
Dog breeder Fisher could be facing criminal charges. Fisher claimed he hired a driver to transport the dogs – 50 adults and 12 puppies – to an animal shelter in New Jersey, the AP reported.
All 62 of the dogs were transported to area animal shelters in Ohio where they will be assessed by behavior specialists who will determine whether or not they can be put up for adoption.
"They are scared, they are just terrified," Carlson told USA Today. "They have probably never been on leashes. They've never had treats. They are not used to people being nice to them."
"We suspect big-time USDA violations," Carlson added.
Fisher's Country Boys Pets breeding facility has received violations from the USDA in the past, the latest being three violations reported following an inspection in August 2013, including failing to provide the minimum required space for a puppy in its breeding facility and selling puppies that were younger than eight weeks, which is harmful to their health.
The vast majority of pet shops across the U.S. rely on commercial breeding facilities or puppy mills, as they are commonly referred to, as the source for the dogs to sell.
The mistreatment of dogs will continue until individuals take a stand and educate themselves about puppy mills, Evans told USA Today, adding, "Don't buy a dog from a pet store unless it's affiliated with the local animal shelter or humane society."
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