CBS46 News was the only news organization there as Cherokee County Marshals raided a puppy mill in Cumming Tuesday and found up to 500 dogs packed into cages.
The dogs were housed in a wooded area off Cumming Highway and were not visible from the road. They barked incessantly as marshals surveyed the property.
"Almost every cage had feces in it," said Dr. Michael Good, a Cobb County veterinarian who helped with the rescue efforts. "They're designed that when they urinate, and I guess when they mash it down enough, it will fall through the grates."
Good was joined by animal activist and TV personality Victoria Stillwell.
"It's absolutely disgusting, the conditions these animals are living in," said Stillwell. "They are suffering physically, but they're also suffering emotionally."
The floors of the cages were made of grates, which rescuers said was painful for the puppies to stand or sleep on.
"I saw dogs sleeping in food bowls so they could get off the wire screen," said Good. "Imagine living your whole life on something like that. It's got to have an effect on your ligaments and your joints."
The owner, Joy Wise, appeared in court Tuesday morning. Her attorney asked that her case be moved from magistrate court to state court. No date for a new hearing was released.
Wise's husband told CBS46 News that his family has raised and sold puppies for 40 years and that the animals were well taken care of. He promised to fight to keep ownership of the dogs.
Authorities were alerted to the location after a North Carolina woman purchased a puppy on the internet. Brittany Scruggs said she paid $350 for the Yorkie-Chihuahua mix, but it died days after she got the puppy home. Scruggs said Wise refunded her money but she spent $600 in veterinarian bills.
The rescued dogs were taken to the Cherokee County Animal Shelter, where they will be cared for until the court case is settled.
"These people, they're not breeders," said Stillwell. "They're puppy millers that basically do factory farming for dogs. They don't care about the dogs themselves. All they care about is the money. That's it."
Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.