Over 600 dogs, cats, horses, and pigs were rescued from a filthy and disease-ridden no-kill shelter in what is being reported as one of the largest animal rescues in U.S. history.
The rescue was carried out in Raeford, North Carolina in a joint operation carried out by local police and the ASPCA.
“These animals were betrayed by the promise of going to a place that is a safe haven for animals, and it is anything but that,” said Tim Rickey, senior vice president of field investigations and response for ASPCA. “We’re finding lethargic and lifeless dogs throughout the property and the same thing with cats.”
The animal organization noted in a statement that the unlicensed,122-acre facility afforded the animals “no protection from the elements” and said the over 600 animals removed from the site “are suffering from serious, untreated medical issues including open wounds, severe upper respiratory disease and emaciation.”
According to the Hoke County Sheriff’s office, shelter owners Stephen Joseph Spear and Linden Spear were arrested and charged with several counts of cruelty to animals and possession of controlled substances.
The Asheville Humane Society, which also participated in the raid, reported that the animals were kept in “filthy kennels, cages, outdoor pens and paddocks, many without protection from the elements.” The group also said many of the creatures suffered from a variety of ailments.
The facility has been under scrutiny by local authorities and in September the Agriculture Department citied the owners for the wretched conditions in which the animals were kept. The Associated Press reported that the raid was arranged after the sheriff’s office and the Dept. of Ag reached out to the ASPCA for its assistance.
The Washington Post reported that the Raeford raid is the second largest animal rescue on record. The only larger raid removed over 700 animals from a failed facility in Florida in 2012.
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