(HANNA CITY) WEEK - It may break your heart to see the condition nearly 200 dogs were in when they were rescued in Tate County, Mississippi from a puppy mill.
The Director of the Tunica Humane Society reportedly received a tip a few weeks ago and shared it with local police there, who then got a search warrant that led them to 170 dogs, living in deplorable conditions.
The bust, called, Operation Breathe was inspired by the clean air rescuers say the animals will have access to. Some of them described the makeshift sheds the dogs were kept in, as pungent, ammonia filled spaces that were barely breathable.
Many of them were covered in filthy, matted fur that covered their entire bodies; others were blind and terrified of anything but the rabbit hutches they'd spent their entire lives in.
"They seemed to be left at the back of the property and just forgotten about." said Connie Davis, the Executive Director and Founder of Sam's Stray Animal and Midway Shelter.
Davis is one of many animal advocates across the country who have opened their hearts and shelters to care for the rescued animals.
Saturday she and her boyfriend drove to St. Louis to pick up seven Chihuauas and bring them back to the Hanna City shelter to prep them for foster care, and eventually find them forever homes.
Two of the dogs have stitches where their eyes should be, while another has a heart worm, which is eventually fatal.
Despite the heinous condition they were found, Davis and her team of dedicated volunteers were all smiles Saturday when the dogs arrived, realizing many of them were experiencing fresh air and actually touching the ground for the first time ever.
"They just are not used to being around people. They're not used to socialization." Davis described, adding that even a paper bag blowing down the street is enough to startle some of them who've never interacted with people or been shown any type of love or attention.
The NBC affiliate in Missisippi reports the backyard breeder who owns the mill, does run a legitimate puppy business, which makes it tougher for law enforcement to prosecute her for any animal neglect crimes.
The dogs at SAMS are estimated to about five years old which Davis says unfortunately makes it tough to pinpoint exactly how long they'd been suffering.
She drew in a deep, sad sigh however, and said it was "probably years." Davis added she was both shocked and not shocked to learn that the woman who owned the business, wasn't arrested.
"Laws in most states are not sufficient for these types of things. There's just such minimal standards for people to meet to keep that pet and if they're not violating those standards then there's nothing the authorities can do. And unfortunately there's not much we can do either." Davis admitted.
But what she knew she would not accept, was standing by idly as the newly rescued dogs were shipped to different parts of the country.
She offered immediately to partner with Tunica Humane Society to take in as many dogs as she could.
"We'll take whatever. We're like 'we don't care.' We just wanna save some lives and we have room for seven in foster." she joked, at the no brainer that was her decision to be a part of the pets' recoveries.
Though it'll take significant money, medical attention, patience and love to get the Chihuahas on the right track, the SAMS team said they are optimistic they'll find the right families for the dogs.
If you'd like to contribute money or supplies or any other items to ensure these dogs get the care they need, SAMS Stray Animal Midway Shelter can accept you donation here on their Facebook Page or their website SamsRescue
They shelter is completely volunteer run and operates off donations. Connie Davis and the SAMS crew says every penny goes a long way and they're grateful for the community's support.