Over 150 Dogs Seized From Alleged Puppy Mill With 'Poor Conditions' in South Carolina

Authorities have seized more than 150 dogs from an alleged "puppy mill" in Pickens County, South Carolina.

The seizure comes following an investigation initiated on February 7 after the Pickens County Sheriff's Office's Animal Enforcement Unit received a complaint of animal neglect, according to a statement.

Animal Enforcement deputies visited the location—a home located in the city of Pickens—and attempted to make contact with the property owner. While at the residence, deputies spotted several well-fed dogs living in "poor conditions," as well as some additional dogs living in kennels.

On February 8, deputies returned to the property and conducted a search under warrant in order to document the living conditions of the animals.

Two days later, Animal Enforcement Deputies, alongside officials from Pickens County Animal Shelter, Pickens County Building Maintenance, Anderson County Paws, and the Charleston Animal Society, removed 166 dogs from the property.

The dogs were taken to the Pickens County Animal Shelter and other shelters in the area where they will be held temporarily, pending the outcome of the criminal case against the owner of the property.

Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark said in a statement: "It is a testament to what teamwork and cohesion can accomplish when agencies work together.

"The amount of time, effort, and resources that are tied up in these types of cases cannot be understated, but I am grateful for the dedication of our Animal Enforcement Deputies and the other entities that came to our assistance to ensure the wellbeing of these animals."

Puppy mills are mass-breeding operations that produce dogs for profit, according to The Humane Society of the United States.

Dogs from puppy mills are often sick, have not been socialized properly and their basic needs are often unmet. Mothers can spend their entire lives in cramped cages with little-to-no personal attention. When they are no longer able to breed, they are often abandoned or killed.

The puppies produced by these facilities frequently suffer from a variety of health issues due to issues such as poor sanitation, overbreeding and a lack of preventative veterinary care.

The Humane Society estimates that there are around 10,000 currently active in the United States, while around 2.6 million puppies originating from these facilities are sold each year.

The owner of the Pickens property, Judith Lynn Brown, 68, cooperated with authorities throughout the course of the investigation and turned herself in to the Pickens County Sheriff's Office's Detention Center on February 9.

Brown has been charged with two counts ill-treatment of animals and one count of rabies control violation.

Pickens County Administrator Ken Roper said in the statement: "How a society treats its most vulnerable creatures speaks volumes, and we are so heartened by the assistance from other counties such as Anderson and Charleston as we deal with the influx of these precious animals that are now in our care."

A spokesperson for the Pickens County Sheriff's Office told Newsweek that local authorities have never performed an animal seizure of this magnitude.

When it comes to what will happen to the animals, the spokesperson said "the owner, Judith Lynn Brown, signed over her rights to the dogs to the Pickens County Sheriff's
Office."

"We have in turn relinquished them to various shelters who will be adopting them out."

Update: 02/21/22, 10:56 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comments from Pickens County Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

A corgi
Stock image showing a corgi puppy in a cage. Authorities have seized more than 150 dogs from an alleged puppy mill in Pickens County, South Carolina. iStock