By BRENNA GRITEMAN
UPPER SANDUSKY — Staff at the Wyandot County Humane Society are frantically working to process over 100 small dogs that were seized from a suspected puppy mill last week.
And they’re asking the public for help by way of financial and physical donations.
Linda Balz, one of the founders and directors of the Upper Sandusky shelter, says 149 live dogs were removed from the puppy mill, and “we took them all.” They are all small breeds and include shih tzus, poodles, schnauzers, Brussels Griffons and cairn terriers.
None of the dogs have yet been placed for adoption, as shelter staff need to assure they are given thorough health checks and are all spayed or neutered. Many of the dogs will need eye surgery, and some also have serious dental issues.
Balz says shelter staff and the agency’s two full-time veterinarians have been pleasantly surprised at the disposition of most of the rescued animals.
“We expected them all to be little hellions,” Balz admits.
“Once you cut through the dreadlocks — the literal dreadlocks — there’s some nice-looking dogs under there. They’re so darn cute,” she adds.
The Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office raided the suspected puppy mill at 5046 Ohio 53 North, Upper Sandusky, on Thursday, in response to reports of neglect or cruelty to animals. Due to the living conditions found at the facility, 150 dogs — including one that was dead — were removed.
The owners of the facility are Orville and Debbra Alabaugh of Tiffin. The Alabaughs face potential criminal prosecution, as well as charges through the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
While evaluating all the dogs remains a “work in progress,” Balz says nearly all of the rescues will be available for adoption. Some are on track to go to reputable national rescue organizations.
Anyone interested in adopting one of the dogs is encouraged to watch the organization’s Facebook page, as they will all be made available to the public on the same day, rather than one at a time as their rehabilitation allows.
In the meantime, the humane society is praising the local community for its kindness.
“We have had such an outpouring of support — it’s astounding,” Balz says.
Donations of soft and small-bite foods are being sought. Balz says the flat, soft rubber feed pans sold at farm stores are also being collected, as they are washable, “wonderful beds for little dogs.”
A GoFundMe account has also been set up with a fundraising goal of $5,000. Money raised will help cover veterinary procedures, vaccines, spay/neuter, staff overtime and supplies.
The shelter notes it typically takes in over 1,000 animals a month this time of year. The sudden influx of animals requiring special veterinary treatment, however, is taxing the agency’s space and resources.
Donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at the humane society, 9640 County Highway 330. The GoFundMe page can be found by searching “Puppy Mill Rescue-Wyandot County Humane Society” at www.gofundme.com.