ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — After 150 dogs were seized from an alleged puppy mill in February, St. Landry officials have now seized more dogs from a connected property.
The first dogs were taken from a home on Lago Drive between Opelousas and Grand Coteau. Thursday’s warrant was for a barn on Louisiana Highway 754 in Sunset.
News Ten joined St. Landry Animal Control exclusively in Sunset where 11 dogs were found with cataracts and matting. Although animal control believes dogs were moved before they arrived they were too late when serving their warrant. Food was still in place for hundreds of dogs as well as room for them.
Those 11 dogs will be going through a similar process to the 150 dogs who came a week before them.
Terri Courvelle, St. Landry Animal Rescue Director, remembered what it was like inside the Lago Drive home. “No bedding. No food. No water. They were dirty. The stench was so bad,” Courvelle recalled.
The dogs were being sold online in what’s being called a puppy mill hidden inside a large home. According to Courvelle, about 275 were in the house and surrounding yard.
Once taken to a secure location, veterinarians found issues ranging from ear bites, infections, umbilical cord issues, a broken jaw, eyes popped out, fleas, matting, and more from inbreeding and neglect.
“One of the animals weighed 4.5 pounds upon arriving at the shelter. Once it was groomed, it weighed two pounds, so it was holding double its weight just in the hair,” St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard shared. He has been an advocate for providing the shelter all they need.
The animal care team worked four 14 hour days. Volunteer Vet Dr. Shelly Lyles with Spay Nation donated her entire day. Several local groomers took dogs offsite to warm baths as shelter water was depleted.
All the vet care and fees were paid for through the Bissell Foundation and nonprofits throughout the United States. The 150 dogs are being taken to other states for further rehabilitation and adoption Saturday.
Courvelle said the reason 100 dogs were left in the breeder’s home is that the legal process to seize the dogs through the court system would have left them in the shelter anywhere 12 to 18 months. The owner would only agree to release most of her animals under some conditions. She kept nursing mothers (about 20) and puppies (about 80), but animal control reserves the right to inspect the property at any time to make sure the dogs are not stuck in 2×2 crates and are kept in proper conditions.
“It was a mission to get them out and get them safe,” Courvelle explained. “We had to do what we could do to get as many as we could get.”
The assistant district attorney for St. Landry Parish is drafting new parish ordinances for animal conditions to be introduced in an upcoming meeting. Courvelle is hopeful stricter local laws will allow those who mistreat animals to face harsher punishments.
The youngest dogs are adapting quickly to rehabilitation, but Courvelle admits the older dogs have broken spirits. Thanks to the help of St. Landry Animal Rescue, all 150 dogs taken from the home were groomed, vaccinated, and saved. Donations of puppy pads, wet and hard food, toys, and money are still needed. You can drop off donations at 255 Hanger Rd. Opelousas, LA or call (337)948-6108 for more information.
The Lago Drive warrant was executed thanks to an anonymous tip received in mid-February. Sources say puppies are still being sold for prices between $950-$3,000 online despite their conditions. St. Landry Animal Control said this is a continuous investigation and is asking if you know anything about the dogs still out there or suspect anything related to perfectpekskennel, call St. Landry Crimestoppers.