BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – A family in Argyle volunteered to surrender 42 animals that were caged in their home as part of an alleged illegal breeding operation.
Lee County Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on the property in rural Lee County after a tip was received about a possible unlicensed breeding operation at the home.
According to sheriff’s investigators, the owners of the property were cooperative with law enforcement and workers with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa who came down to take custody of the animals.
Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said evidence from the search warrant was turned over to Lee County Attorney Ross Braden for possible charges.
Investigator Chad Donaldson said Iowa code regarding hording of animals for breeding is complicated, but did confirm that there were no permits or licensing for the breeding that was occurring on the property. He said the owners were cooperative with investigators and are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Animal Rescue League posted today that they are looking for homes for the 42 dogs that were taken from the property. They also posted a fundraising mechanism on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ARLIowa and have raised more than $6,000 for the animals in less than two days.
Local authorities were provided a tip about the alleged operations last week and went to work notifying appropriate agencies that would be involved in investigation, as well as obtaining the search warrant.
The search was conducted Tuesday morning at about 9 a.m.
According to the ARL’s Facebook page, the groups Mobile Rescue Team not only pulled more than 40 dogs from the scene, but they also rescued 41 hamsters that were piled into two cages.
Additional animals on the property included ducks, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks.
“Nearly every room in the house was packed with dogs and puppies in wire cages – everything from Great Danes and Weimeraners to Dachshunds and Corgis. The cages were stacked on top of each other, sometimes with two or three adult dogs to a cage, or moms with litters of puppies barely able to move. They were living in their own waste and the smell of urine was overpowering.”
“One by one, our rescue team moved all of the dogs into clean kennels for the drive back. Our Miracle Medical Team was waiting when they arrived and immediately began examining, vaccinating, and treating the dogs. Many are thin – some very thin. Their teeth are rotten and they were crawling with fleas. Nearly all will need spay/neuter surgeries. Our animal care team worked into the evening to get the dogs settled into warm, clean beds with full bowls of fresh food and water and immediately sent the most vulnerable – moms with nursing puppies – to foster homes for round-the-clock care.”
ARL staff worked into the evening on Tuesday to get the animals evaluated, cleaned, and into safe accommodations.