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MANLY — Animal neglect charges are pending after nearly 170 dogs were rescued from a Worth County puppy mill Monday morning, officials said.

Following the execution of a search warrant Monday morning, more than a hundred Samoyeds were found living in “appalling and overcrowded conditions and exhibiting signs of neglect with no access to clean water,” the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said in a news release.

“Many of the dogs were found in filthy, dilapidated kennels in below-freezing temperatures with minimal protection from the elements,” the ASPCA said.

The organization is assisting the Worth County Sheriff’s Office with collecting evidence, transporting and sheltering the dogs from the commercial breeding facility.

The ASPCA said the puppy mill is located in rural Manly.

Debris was scattered throughout the property as responders worked to safely remove fearful, undersocialized dogs, the release said. A few cats showing signs of neglect also were found inside the residence.

“We have tried to work with the individual in addressing the growing concerns about the welfare of her animals over the past several months and unfortunately met resistance,” Worth County Sheriff Dan Fank said in the release. “This is a large-scale breeding operation involving many animals, and we asked the ASPCA and their affiliates for assistance in removing them from the property and ensuring that they get much-needed care and treatment as we continue our investigation.”

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An American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals truck and trailer is parked outside the scene where a search warrant was executed at a home west of Manly to remove nearly 170 dogs from a puppy mill on Monday. The truck was one of three needed to transport the dogs, which were found living in "appalling and overcrowded conditions," according to a press release. 

The sheriff’s office began an investigation several months ago when local animal welfare groups were concerned about the breeder’s inability to care for the animals and alerted local authorities to investigate the matter. Criminal charges are pending.

The breeder was previously licensed through the USDA, despite failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care, food, clean water and sheltering.

USDA inspectors in 2012 noted dilapidated, filthy conditions at the property, according to an inspection report posted on ASPCA’s website. USDA’s site only lists actions from 2015 to present.

The report said the dogs’ kennels were dirty and soiled, noting bird feces on walls, floors and wire panels of primary enclosures, which also had chewed, worn and soiled wood walls. The breeder’s license is no longer active with the USDA.

“Many commercial breeding operations prioritize profit over the well-being of the animals, often producing puppies that suffer from health and behavioral problems,” ASPCA Vice President Tim Rickey with Field Investigations and Response said in a statement. “Thanks to local animal welfare groups for raising their concerns and the Sheriff’s Office for taking swift action in launching an investigation, we were able to support the case by providing expertise and resources to remove these dogs from this heartbreaking situation.”

The ASPCA is transporting the animals from the property to a temporary shelter where they will receive ongoing daily care until custody is determined by the court.

Once medical exams are conducted, behavior experts with the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior team will evaluate each dog and implement “enrichment protocols” at the temporary shelter.

“The ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy department will work closely with law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure the best outcome for these animals,” ASPCA said.

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Companion Animal Practices North America, Dubuque Regional Humane Society, Humane Society of North Iowa, Humane Society of Scott County, Nebraska Humane Society, Veterinary Centers of America and Wichita Animal Action League are providing assistance.

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