Pending legal action stalls adoption of 146 alleged 'puppy mill' dogs

Pending legal action stalls adoption of 146 alleged 'puppy mill' dogs

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Dozens of people lined up to adopt some of the 146 dogs removed from an allegedly illegal dog breeding operation were turned away at the Horry County Animal Care Center Tuesday morning.

The county attorney has ordered that the dogs not be made available for adoption Tuesday from the animal center, and said that a court hearing is pending, according to Horry County Police Department Lt. Raul Denis.

The attorney of the woman accused of operating the illegal dog breeding operation has filed a motion that would stop any developments regarding the animals in this case.

"The judge allowed it, which basically means they have to have a hearing now to determine whether or not the dogs are going to be returned to the owner," said Lt. Denis.

There is a hearing for the motion scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m., according to the judge's secretary.

On Tuesday morning, Horry County Police tweeted the following statements: "Dog adoptions postponed due to temporary restraining order filed by owner, reads one tweet. "Other dogs available, order freezes only those from last week's breeder case," another tweet reads.

The motion states that the defendant, Renee James, has moved to halt the neutering and spaying of her breeding dogs, to halt the planned adoption of her dogs, and to have all her dogs returned to her.

Since her trial date would be after the first adoption date, James' attorney argues adopting out the dogs would be taking away her business with what he calls a total loss in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The motion goes on to say the court is being egged on by people who think, "everyone should believe like them that it is acceptable for your dog to sit at the table with you and for you to cut it pieces of steak and feed the cute little poo eater from your fork."

The motion goes on to state that James requested a jury trial.

Shortly after the dogs were removed from the property and taken to the HCACC, the center stated that the dogs would be available for adoption this week. The center began posting images of dogs recovered from the alleged "puppy mill" on Monday, advertising them for adoption beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

A tip led Horry County Police to uncover an unlawful dog breeding operation last Wednesday officers removed over 140 dogs of various breeds from the property and charged a 49-year-old Conway woman for failure to provide proper care and treatment of animals.

The dogs were not expected to be ready for adoption from the HCACC until Tuesday. Debbie Saxon, with the organization Friends of HCACC, explained the animals were going through processing.

While her group is separate from the shelter, the two work hand in hand to get animals adopted. Saxon said many of the dogs are older or pregnant.

While 146 dogs seems like a lot, Saxon believes HCACC sees a similar number of animals brought in every two days during the spring and summer months. She said the 'live release' rate has nearly doubled over the last few years, meaning more animals are either adopted out or sent to rescues and foster homes.

The focus for the Horry County Animal Care Center, right now is solely on the future of the dogs.

"We'll continue to hold the animals, provide excellent care, and wait and see what the legal system has to do first," said Operations Manager Kelly Bonome.

If a decision is made to do put the dogs back up for adoption, Bonome said they will be released in small groups of 15-20 at a time. Each dog needs to be groomed, neutered and inspected before going to not just any home, but one that best fits.

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